Seven Secrets of Success

How to defeat the British Empire

Posted Jul 04, 2020

Over the years, psychology has contributed a great deal as the mule driver of wagons seeking new terrain within ourselves. Remedies, from mindfulness to cultivation of our family histories, have led Americans to the foreground of a revolution of the interior.

And yet, despite the broad impetus, we suffer from the despair of the pandemic, racism, double-digit unemployment, massive closures of businesses, the end of spectator events for the foreseeable future, an international ban on Americans seeking to travel outside of the United States, environmental degradation, and deep, economic uncertainty.

All these stressors come about within the remarkable context of countless books and articles on self-help.

How is that possible? One might think that with over 75 years of introspection, we would be better off.

We’re not. We’re worse off than we have been in decades.

But that’s not really surprising when you give a cursory look at the term, “self-help.” After all, when it is the self that’s the focus of psychology, it becomes the gift that keeps on giving, fueling an industry that stays in business wholly dependent on ongoing stress.

Without stress, there would be no need for self-help.

We are living in a “Groundhog Day” of psychology—the day-to-day repetition of stress, perpetuated and conditioned by social forces, and then patched up by self-help practitioners who collaborate with the individual to maintain a closed system, day after day, seven days a week.

That system obviates more pressing concerns that are essential to maintain the stressors.

But did Rosa Parks give lectures on mindfulness? Was Martin Luther King, Jr. an advocate of individuation?

Gandhi, we all know, was too busy taking on the British Empire to write a book about yoga.

The great French film director, Olivier Assayas, is fixated on the adage of integrating action with ideas. As well-meaning as one’s ideas are, they mean next to nothing if one’s day-to-day actions do not embody them. In his memoir, he decries “petit-bourgeois individualism,” which he describes as being, “rancid, egoistical self-sufficiency, closed in upon itself and upon its complete narcissism…lost in contemplation of itself.”

The seven secrets of success are to be found in the confrontation of the stressors that perpetuate the taking on of personal, emotional debt. Each day of the week affords us the opportunity to break free of the myths that self-help maintains in attempting to push us inward without awareness of how we got here or where we are going.

Assayas writes of, “the very undertone of consumer society, the colonized unconscious,” and it is evident that that consumption of books and articles that focus strictly on helping the self are fundamentally a part of that colonization.

References

Assayas, Olivier.  "A Post-May Adolescence: Letter to Alice Debord."  Vienna, Austria: Synema Publikationen, 2012

Debord, Guy. "Society of the Spectacle." London, England: Black and Red Publishers, 2002.