Author: Emiliya Tsaneva
The more, the better is not always the case, especially when it comes to personal development and therapy. Does it sound weird to you? Well, me personally, for many years I was thinking that the more books I read, the more seminars I attend, the more insight I have, the more work I do on my wounds, traumas and dysfunctional patterns, then the more knowledge I will have and the better life will be for me. On one hand this is true, however, on the other hand many of us don’t know how to dose all this self-development efforts correctly and this doesn’t lead to optimal results, on the contrary, can sometimes even harm us. We rarely take into consideration that we need time to integrate what we have learned. We simply can’t keep up devouring new knowledge all the time, without giving ourselves the time to assimilate them. And if we don’t give ourselves this time, let’s call it a rest, then we don’t get better, we simply get very confused.
How could reading books or attending workshops possibly harm us? Well, when we overdo it, even the healthiest things become damaging or at the very least inefficient. When we read book, after book, after book, after book, after book and we don’t give ourselves the time to “chew it” – to have a thought what we would like to take for ourselves from that book and incorporate it into our lives and what is not suitable for us and it’s better for us to leave it aside, then we don’t get the most out of the book and what’s worse – we even stuff ourselves with someone else’s rules and ideas, without judging whether they are good for us or not – well in this case reading books starts having disruptive influence on us. Imagine that you suddenly find yourself in a situation, about which one book says one thing, however another book you have read says totally the opposite. You didn’t put the effort to “chew” the content of those books and filter out what you don’t need, so in this case you simply get an enormous headache out of the situation, because you have no idea what to do – to follow one book or the other, being yourself doesn’t even cross your mind. And this happens especially in aspects of our lives where we have difficulties, because exactly in those fields we read the most, since we want to solve the problems so much, right? Which traumatizes us additionally, because sooner or later we will reach the point, where we start feeling sorry for ourselves and we fall into despair: “I have put so much effort, I have read so many books, I have been trying so hard and yet again I can’t seem to manage those bloody situations…”
Furthermore, when we keep reading so hard and tend to overdo it, we live only from our heads – we mainly think and re-think which rule to apply, without including our body and emotions in the process and this doesn‘t bring us any good – there is no authenticity, no joy, no pleasure from being alive, there is only attempt to control everything, even the tiniest detail, so that everything goes according to the plan and we achieve the results we want. Example from my personal life – throughout my teenage years the topic of male female relationships was extremely interesting and problematic for me, so I was constantly reading and reading all books I could get my hands on regarding this topic. However, I didn’t have critical thinking and didn’t filter what I want to take from those books and what not. Guess what the result was! Over the years I have had so many situations, where, instead of being spontaneous and acting authentically, I have kept wondering and thinking over and over and over again how exactly to behave, because one book said one thing, the other one – exactly the opposite, and I just took both books as they are, without trying them on to see whether they fit me or not. So in such situations I was constantly panicking, because I had no idea how to behave and as a result my behavior was always quite awkward. What’s worse – I was getting extremely stressed out by dates or even talking to people I like and didn’t manage to have any fun or enjoy it. And what’s the point of going on dates, when you can’t really enjoy them that much?
Don’t get me wrong, I adore books! However, nowadays I am doing my best to make sure I read them one by one and filter them properly – after I finish reading a book, I take time to decide what I am taking out of this book, what I am going to put into practice in my life and when exactly I will do it. Then I decide what is not suitable for me and it’s better for me to filter it out of my mind. This way reading personal development books becomes really useful for me and stops causing me getting stuck with ideas and rules that are actually hindering me.
Another aspect – do you constantly think that you don’t know enough, you haven’t read enough books, you haven’t completed enough diplomas, you haven’t attended enough seminars or workshops… I have to read exactly this one book more and my life will become perfect, just this one seminar and I will be an expert! Well done, Mr. Marketing… It makes us believe that exactly this one thing, no matter what it is, is the answer to all our questions… But this is rarely so, not to say never. Even if “the thing” has an answer to some of our questions, it won’t give us the answer to all our questions and it definitely won’t make us feel good enough and capable all of a sudden. I will share a secret with you – feeling that you are not good enough has nothing to do with the number of books read or educations completed, it comes from a totally different place and no matter how many books you stuff yourself with, it won’t disappear. Not good enough doesn’t come solely from the mind – yes, it’s good to work with our inner critic, who often nags: “You have just screwed this up again as always!”. Not good enough has most probably roots in our childhood, teenage years and unrealistic expectations towards ourselves, as well as unrealistic image of how perfect other people’s lives are… Well, not good enough can’t be cured by increasing the number of books read or seminars attended. Confidence and trust in oneself comes from within, you can’t stuff it from outside…
When it comes to personal development workshops, the same logic applies – they could be very useful, however there is no need to overdo them and it would be good if one selects them wisely. Just pay attention to how you feel about the person giving the workshop and ask yourself whether the topic is suitable for you and whether this is the right time for you to take part in it. Some time ago I wasn’t choosing the seminars I was attending that wisely and I was going to everything that came my way and I could afford. Of course, some of them were really useful for me, however, many were rather damaging due to me not “chewing” – taking what’s good for me and filtering out the rest. Nowadays, I believe that the best solution is to put effort into self-development, gaining awareness and learning new things, combined with giving yourself enough time to get a good rest, doing sports and just having fun. Because balance is what creates fruitful ground for personal development, not the extremes.
What to say about therapy? There are times in life where one struggles so horribly that they need very intense therapy until they get out of the black hole and become stable enough to stand on their own feet. However, when this tough time has already passed, therapy should be dosed in a more balanced way. This doesn’t mean to abandon therapy since the crisis is over and the person feels good at the moment. You need to keep working on yourself, so that you can know yourself better and create the life you want, just try not to overdo it. Me personally, I love overdoing my individual therapy. I was always thinking the more, the better. The more therapy I undergo, the faster I will solve my problems, the faster I will develop good patterns, the faster I will get better… However, in therapy such thing as “faster” does not exist. Each of us has a certain capacity and timing, which are pretty similar to the timing of a blooming flower. A flower blooms when the right time for it has come, the same way we have insight and manage to change for better, when the right time has come for it, we can’t force it. When you see a rosebud, you wait for it to bloom on its own, right? You won’t even think of pulling its petals in order to make it bloom faster! Then why do so many of us keep trying to pull their own petals and expect they are going to bloom faster like this? Well, this way it’s quite possible to break them, violence towards yourself can never lead to beautiful results.
Another important thing in therapy is that we need time to integrate what we have learned exactly the way we need time to digest the food, before eating again. If we constantly stuff ourselves with food, we digest it badly and we assimilate very little out of its nutrients. Therapy works the same way – when we overdo it, we don’t manage assimilating all that comes up for us and it becomes too much for us, which makes us horribly tired, even confused and feeling unwell. We just need more time to integrate what we have realized. And don’t forget that therapy is not always pleasant – very often we need to go through a lot of pain, anger, sadness, hard memories… That is why it’s necessary to get the right dose of therapy, otherwise it can become too much for us (personal experience). It would be good if we are more compassionate and gentle towards ourselves. It would also be good if we start working through our issues step by step and finally accept the fact that in order to change our patterns and ultimately our life and in order to heal our traumas, it takes not only effort, but time as well. There is no “faster” or “right now” when it comes to therapy.
It’s wonderful that we want to get to know ourselves, to develop and learn something new. However, it’s time to balance it with enough laughter, playfulness, pleasures and joy. This way we will gain the most benefit out of self-development, we will feel better while doing it and will go further! So try it! Go with the balance and good dose!