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Something You Should Know About What You Should’ve Known

“I should have known better.”

Famous last words.

Perhaps it is true that you *should* have known better, but that doesn’t change the fact that you only could’ve known what you actually knew.

Wallowing in guilt about what you think you should have known isn’t going to make you one bit smarter. In fact, it might just delay the process of you learning from your mistakes and moving forward in a constructive manner.

Instead of condemning yourself for not having known something in the past, celebrate the fact that your experiences have made you more prepared for the future.

What you “should” have known doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what you’re willing to do in the present moment to become a better version of yourself.

Self-Help or Self-Hurt?

Carren CouchEven though Self-help books are designed to help us help ourselves, they sometimes end up having the opposite affect. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve met many people who’ve picked up self-help books with a great deal of optimism only to finish reading them with less hope than what they started out with.

What’s going on in these instances? Why do some people seem to be worse off after attending motivational seminars and studying the works of various gurus? I was recently interviewed by Carren Smith and we delved into this very topic. In this episode of her podcast, Carren’s Couch, we discuss the importance of critical thinking, the value of Both/And logic, the role of metaphors, how to avoid self-destructive thinking, and we even talk a little bit about the nature of money and how to create true wealth.

Here’s what Carren had to say:

Welcome back to Carren’s Couch, the amazing thought leader and philosopher, T.K Coleman!!!

Today we are talking all about the Self Help industry and how it actually works with us in today’s age of progress and principles!

As always, T.K holds nothing back as he analyses the validity and value of what we learn and how it contributes to our ability to make decisions for ourselves. Thinking in accordance to principles and outcomes rather than rules and regulations are always going to challenge some of us, and this podcast really opens up the conversation between self help, self love and self initiation!!

Another awesome, thought provoking conversation!!

Here’s the link if you’d like to listen:

CC 80 : Is Self Help actually Self Hurt?

I truly think you’ll enjoy this episode. If you do, please drop me a line and share your thoughts.


T.K. Coleman

Self-help is as dangerous as it is helpful: It all depends on how you approach it

For every principle, there’s a variable.

Hard work pays off (except for when it doesn’t).

Being friendly is a great way to make friends (except when it isn’t),

Do what you love and the money will follow (except for when things just don’t work out that way for whatever reason).

Be assertive and people will respect you (except for when you run up against the guy who doesn’t respond to your assertiveness training tips).

Meditation and visualization techniques can help enhance your performance (except for when they just make you cranky, impatient, and annoyed).

These are only a few examples. An exhaustive list would fill volumes.

The general point is this:

Establish a principle and reality will provide you with an anomaly that refuses to be accounted for by that particular precept.

Principles, in and of themselves, are not safe. Every principle has at least one set of conditions that is capable of rendering it inapplicable.

The solution to such quandaries, however, is not the abandonment of all principles. The solution is the addition of critical thinking.

There is no path to personal development that will yield successful results without a vigilante commitment to 1) thinking for yourself 2) weighing everything you learn against your own subjective convictions and experiences 3) experimenting with different approaches even after you’ve had several failures and 4) taking personal responsibility for the outcomes you create through your choices.

If you’re looking for a fool-proof approach to self-help, there isn’t one. Every good piece of advice that has ever been given is fully capable of making your life worse if you aren’t careful, conscious, and creative in your personal application of it.

Good self-help always begins with the self. Each person is, in the end, responsible for dealing with the variables of his own life. There is no system or teacher that can save any of us from this responsibility. The most beautiful bit of wisdom is immediately transformed into an ugly tool of destruction as soon as it is placed in the hands of someone who surrenders this responsibility to another.

You’re free whether you like it or not

The ability to say “I hate my life” does not make one a victim.

Not liking reality isn’t the same thing as being devoid of power.

Personal freedom is not a mood. It’s an ontological fact.

Its existence does not depend on the absence of unwanted conditions.

Its presence is not always confirmed by an abundance of positive emotions.

Feelings wax and wane, but the fundamental being-ness of freedom always remains.

You can wait until you feel free or you can decide to live as if you are free.

I feel like a victim today, but I know better

This past weekend, I experienced an unprecedented variety of unanticipated inconveniences.

The amount of time I lost almost made my blood boil.

I had to reassign so many tasks that I am now in the unenviable position of managing twice my already abnormal workload.

I woke up this morning thinking thoughts like “I should have never promised A that I would do B” and “I should have never told X that I would attend Y.”

Deep down inside I truly felt like a victim.

I felt like I was being forced to do all sorts of things that I didn’t want to do.

I felt completely powerless.

I felt as if I was being pushed around by a universe that refused to take it easy on me.

That’s how I FELT!

Here’s what I KNOW:

I am always creating my own reality even when I don’t feel excited about the consequences of my choices.

My ability to say “I don’t like this” or “this doesn’t feel good” does not make me a victim.

The process of manifesting and maintaining the things that are important to me involves creative challenges that sometimes seem to push me to the brink of frailty. Taking ownership of these creative challenges are part of parcel of what it means to be a self-determined being.

Buying a new car means dealing with the DMV. Choosing to travel means sorting out the nuances of flight details. Being part of a business means actually doing something that improves the business. Having a job means showing up for the job AND doing some work. Having successful relationships means making time for the people I love even when it’s easier to make excuses. Wanting good health means investing valuable energy into making healthy decisions even though it’s ten times more convenient to just grab a whopper with cheese and call it a night. Having dreams means getting out of bed and getting physically involved with those dreams.

It’s so easy to say things like “I have to eat this”, “I have to go here”, “I have to stand in this stupid line”, “I have to stay up late”, “I have to make time for that”, “I have to get this done by that deadline”, and “I have to cancel this”, and “I have to sacrifice that”, but such talk is all a distraction from the simple fact that we are choosing, in every moment, how we want to live.

We decide what’s necessary. We choose what’s important. We make up the rules. We are the glue that holds our commitments together. If we really wanted to, there’s nothing that stops any of us from saying “to hell” with all of the things we allegedly have to do.

“I have to do this” really means “I am determined to do this, regardless of the inconveniences involved, because I am THAT passionate about the results I freely decided I’m going to create.”

C.S. Lewis defined “Faith” as the art of holding on to what we know to be true in spite of our shifting moods.

Sometimes my mood says to me “T.K. life is being so hard on you right now.”

I’m in touch with my mood cycles enough to know that “this too shall pass.”

But until then, it feels good to know that my faith will see me through.

If you’re in a similar place, I hope the same is also true for you.

Cheers to knowing that it’s always up to you,

T.K. Coleman

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