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“Laws of the Universe”, “Objectivism”, and tough talk (or “Why I’m Critical of Secular Self-help”)

January 17, 2015

Spinning off of  where in some of the comments, I went into a tangent about secular self-help teachings; and which also touches upon this.

It’s like a total “objectivism” (Rand’s well known philosophy named for this is the political version) I’ve been seeing a lot, that makes a point to totally disregard people’s feelings and tear into them with the “truth” of what they must be doing wrong if they are in a place where they’re not satisfied in life.
It’s obviously the same philosophy used by conservatives who try to blame the poor and other struggling classes for their own financial problems, and insist the rich are all where they are because they did everything right. They were even “smarter”, or “better than you” at “providing value”. 
It’s also the secular counterpart to the “Christian victory” teaching, and basically, health & wealth as well, where there are “laws” established which if one follows, almost guarantees success, and if one is not successful, it is all their own fault, and not only that, but they need to be curtly motivated with cutting rhetoric, whether (from the Christians) “you’re sinning by holding on to your fear and anger and not ‘trusting God'”, and from the secularists” “you need to get off your a___ and do something”, or “stop whining”, “you did it to yourself”, “you think the world owes you something”, “your disappointment is that you’re mad at yourself for not doing better”, etc. and always the comparison about how miserable they’re making themselves, while the speaker while perhaps once being that way, now has it all together, and is above these people wallowing in their misery.

So to start, here is the world’s counterpart to the “divine laws” regarding our “attitude” that Christians appeal to:

You’re going to get the EXACT energy back from the universe that your put out in it.
Have you ever noticed that the same people who constantly stay mired up in negativity, hate, anger, fear, despair, and doubt a lot of the times tend to be the same EXACT people who spend most of their lives being sick, miserable, depressed, or are always complaining about one thing or another not being right in their lives?
I honestly think most people who make those actions a habit are addicted to those negative feelings and secretly love being the victim, and wouldn’t know what to do with true inner peace if it came up and kissed them on the cheek.
Nowadays, I avoid that kind of energy in people when i see it coming. I used to try to take it on as some kind of ‘ people fixing project’ but not anymore. i have learned to silently pray for folks from a distance, help wherever i possibly can- but son, i gotta keep it movin’ or else that type of energy will attempt to attach itself to the next available empty vessel. if you don’t believe me, just try being in a good mood and have an uplifted spirit and go visit someone who is negative, they will drain every last bit of your energy- and you’ll leave feeling exactly the way they feel.
For years I thought this world owed me something and was going to lay it at my feet because i was deserving of it, boy was i ever wrong.
I’m glad i finally figured that out otherwise I might be sitting around crying victim, making a ton of excuses, and blaming the world for my shortcoming.
Remember, start changing your energy from negative to a positive and watch your life change for the better.
It’s a law of the universe.

(And I had just been given that “universal law” line by someone else in person, a week before seeing this. [original comment last July] The same people who have trashed theism’s “absolute truth” now give this other philosophy that title, and just as dogmatically as the most fiery preacher of old).

Several people in the comments agreed, as they always do with these types of statements posted on social media; which are numerous, and from almost every “friend” at one time or another.
But I can’t help thinking “where is all of this positive energy” in the world, then? Where is all of this “peace”? Only inside of people, but then the only thing that comes outside is all the stuff you see in the world of people? All the backbiting, fighting, robbing and cheating, etc.

I grew up hearing this stuff preached, in the very act of spewing a lot of negativity and not even being able to practice it onesself (which I was told was “no excuse” for my own response to the mixed message; the very failure to “practice what one preaches” the Church is universally decried for by these “secular” adherents).

The whole “I once was that way, now I’ve pulled myself out of it, compared to all these losers out there who still think that way”. The whole argument would be nothing without all these “others” (whether directly even mentioned or not) to compare to. Getting that kind of “counsel” always felt to me like rubbing in how far I fell short, and need to go to get to that person’s position. And they would keep gloating of how “hard” and slow it is; all the “steps”, and trial and error, etc. (And then in cases like my father, he really did not have it all together at all, but ended his life in almost the sad state he kept warning me about!)

I like how the Bible puts it (which even Chrstians who get caught up in these teachings, or political rhetoric ignore): “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7)

People at work (a heavy STJ environment, and a lot of these sentiments reflect an STJ “SiTeFi” functional perspective: Si memorized “concrete” facts +Te external impersonal decisions based on fact + Fi internal sense of humane worth)* where things often go completely awry, affecting all of us who depend on schedules, often spout this “positive attitude”-“don’t let it sweat you” attitude; and I know good and well they are likely going home and taking it out on their families, because I’ve seen it myself.

*(Ni “internal sense of conceptual meanings” can be substituted for Si, giving us talk of “the universe” not based on more solid fact, which you’re likely to hear from the similar NTJ’s).

It’s all the same shadow projection for the sake of the almighty Persona, that the world has correctly pointed out in religion. They’ve only stripped it of “eternal Hell” (“Hell is what you do to yourself here on earth” is their mantra), and basically ended up taking the same stereotype of a “cruel God” they’ve condemned in religion, but stripped Him of any personal characteristics, calling it “the universe” (whose “laws” seem self-creating). The only difference to them, is that this “universe” doesn’t care who you sleep with, or if you get high, drink and curse.
But it’s the same grace-less “sink or swim” system of self-effort, disguised as a “simple choice”, but it’s really a hard, long daily “struggle” that nobody has really mastered, at least not behind closed doors. Yet they talk like they have mastered it, and most importantly, use this to judge others not seen as having this right “attitude”, or at least not trying hard enough to develop it. (And to coldly shun them. Can’t let them “defile” us. Just like Christians who cite Proverbs 22:24 and Hebrews 12:15).

All of this ties into what’s called “The Law of Attraction“. From this site:

The Law Of Attraction is the belief held by many theorists is that the universe is governed by a set of universal laws; these laws cannot be changed, cannot be broken and apply to every individual, regardless of age or nationality. These laws are the riverbanks which guide the flow of their lives on its journey to its ultimate end.
The law of attraction is one such law. The law of attraction is the belief that anyone can determine their destiny through the power of their minds.

There is no such thing as chance. Law maintains everywhere, and all that happens because of the operation of Law. You cannot name the simplest thing that ever occurred by chance – try it, and then run the thing down to a final analysis, and you will see it as the result of law.

It is as plain as mathematics. Plan and purpose; cause and effect. From the movements of worlds to the growth of the grain of mustard seed – all the result of Law. The fall of the stone down the mountainside is not chance – forces which had been in operation for centuries caused it.

And back of that cause were other causes, and so on until the Causeless Cause is reached.

And Life is not the result of chance – the Law is here, too. The Law is in full operation whether you know it or not – whether you believe in it or not.

You may be the ignorant object upon which the Law operates, and bring yourself all sorts of trouble because of your ignorance of or opposition to the Law. Or you may fall in with the operations to the Law – get into its current, as it were – and Life will seem a far different thing to you.

You cannot get outside of the Law, by refusing to have anything to do with it. You are at liberty to oppose it and produce all the friction you wish to – it doesn’t hurt the Law, and you may keep it up until you learn your lesson.

Fall in with the operations of the law. Make it a part of yourself. Get into its currents. Maintain your poise. Set your mind to the keynote of Courage, Confidence and Success. Get in touch with all the thoughts of that kind that are emanating every hour from hundreds of minds.

This sounds a lot like what you hear in religious preaching from movements of all stripes (sabbatarian “lawkeepers”, regular Sundaykeepers who also focus on “Law”, including fundamentalists and Reformed, and especially the health & wealth teachers). “Law, not chance” is the main point.
It is a total generalization of some observable principles in life. A blog called “Throne of Eden” points out one of the main reasons this is becoming so popular is due to the language that is used to describe it.

Right from the start, you get the word “law”. Thanks to our incredible advancements in the study of science and mathematics, we have been able to determine many forces in the universe which are described as acting within prescribed sets of ‘laws’. For instance, the law of gravitational force, the laws of thermodynamics, Newton’s three laws of motion, Einstein’s Laws of general and special relativity, the law of conservation of mass and so many more.

So these [“The Secret” DVD authors] write a book about energy. What do they do? They try and exploit people’s basic understanding of physics by using the word Law to describe their own personal theories of attraction.
The difference between the law of attraction and the laws of thermodynamics is that the laws of thermodynamics are not theories. In fact, the word “law” which is used to describe them pretty much implies they are physical facts of the universe which can be tested and applied to observable objects. The law of attraction, on the other hand, is not a fact. It’s not even a good theory, because there is no basis for testing it. If you can’t do experiments which can yield results for or against a theory, then you have no right calling it a law. Again, language being used to mislead people into believing that something is more important than it really is.

Of course, what I’ve found from both the secular and religious variants of this, is that they say it IS testable. The problem is, it’s not instantly testable. It’s a lifelong slow “process”. And if you don’t start now, and keep at it everyday, then you’ll never see the results.
It’s not like a car you can try out, and then return with no commitments if you don’t like it. You basically have to presuppose it’s true first, and then commit to it, in order for it to work. This is not how scientific testing works, but it is how scams can work. (Recall, most people who teach stuff like this, both religious and secular, are often selling something in one way or another; or if not, they are trying to convince themselves that what they’ve trusted in and committed to is the right way).

If you try it and find it doesn’t work, then it must be you did something wrong, and in such a long hard “process” with multiple “steps” and “laws” to adhere to, there are so many places where you could have gone wrong, so you can’t argue against that; and by that time, it’s too late to undo whatever waste or other consequences from all the time and commitment you’ve put into it.

This lack of “testability” becomes the strength of such nebulous enterprises. Someone can tell you anything all authoritatively, and proclaim it absolute TRUTH, and you can’t refute him, just DO it, or prove yourself an ignorant skeptic.

East vs West?

While Christianity was co-opted by the West (which makes it suspicious to some), a lot of the secular version of this philosophy is influenced by the East (such as India). The overall “religion” Law of Attraction philosophy is basically apart of is something called “New Thought“, which while seems to be attributed to strictly Western sources, does resemble Eastern religion. (This is taken as evidence it is apart of “universal law”).

Many of the secular-minded people will condemn the Christian concepts as a control tool, in which case, Eastern and Eastern-like philosophy has been generally what became the attractive alternative, but fail to realize both East and West have histories of mind control using philosophy. So I can see where both can use this “positive attitude” concept, and harshly condemn “victims”, to pacify the masses and essentially justify the powerful. (Like over there, you have the Caste system).

(The philosophy says “Abundance will not come to you out of the sky, neither will it drop into your lap”, but conveniently ignores the role of things such as being born into the right circumstances, and being given the right “timing, talent and temperament”, along with downright cheating ⦅abuse of power, “pulling strings”, deceptions, etc.⦆ to aid in their success; and on the flipside, those with legitimate disabilities.
They make it entirely “choice”, including the right “thoughts”, so the “justice” of this “law” has already been enacted in people’s success or failure. When acknowledging this, they’ll then just say “well life isn’t fair; those with disadvantages just have to try harder to succeed”; but sometimes, the disparity is too great. But this can’t be allowed under this “law”, for it makes those on top look less than ‘good’ masters of their own destiny).

And if people keep complaining too loudly (to where the powerful feel threatened), how quickly do the powerful themselves adopt the “victim” complex, in different ways. Just the act of blaming any ‘negative energy’ that affects you on this other person is playing a victim! If you’re so affected, then it’s shown to still really be inside of you, only suppressed into the “shadow”.
(So overall, the message is just like the conservative politics —whose ultimate aim is to justify the colonialism and oppression of the past by casting current “victims” as bad and “detrimental” to society).

This “suppression” masqueraded as some sort of tapped “power” I realized, when hearing it from the secularists and Christians alike, and that’s precisely why I became so skeptical of this teaching; whichever overall belief system it’s extracted from. (The secular variant getting the same intellectual scrutiny religion has been given).
Introverted Thinking (Ti) looks for logical consistency, which is less important to the extraverted Thinking and introverted Feeling perspective these philosophies usually hail from. Like one of the “universal laws” the person mentioned earlier was telling me about is “forgiveness” (self, others, etc.) as the universal key, but then both Christianity and Jung alike, and even mainstream psychology were dismissed as “the white man’s philosophies”, because “the white man dismissed us, so why should we listen to him”.

Yeah, “forgiveness“, all right! An ideal that is far easier said than done. Didn’t think it would extend to an issue like that! (Let alone “universal truth”, which by its very nature can come from any source, and that these New Thought concepts are just such examples of concepts with some amount of observable truth filtered through Western sources! Why is Phineas Quimby, the originator of this school of thought, more trustworthy or less “white” than Jung or some preacher?)

This is the way it always is with effort-based philosophies. Just like the racially corrupted religion that focused a lot on “morality”, but condoned oppression (that people like this are still resenting in the first place). It’s what Jesus was talking about in the Sermon on the Mount, about what sins such as “murder” and “adultery” really entail! A lot more than even the most strictest adherents think!
At this point, people will then appeal to being “imperfect”, but then my whole point is more grace is needed, rather than speaking as if one has it all together.

Matters of different perspectives

Should also mention this site I saw the week before all this: 31 Days of Self-Love – It reminded me a lot of the advice I used to get from my STJ (Sensing-Thinking Judging) immediate family. Now looking at it typologically, it’s clearly a heavy introverted Feeling (Fi) perspective in tandem with extraverted Thinking (Te).

People don’t realize how typological differences will affect the way we see or receive these things.

[Moved (Discussion of type functions involved): ]

What most bothered me, is that such instructions essentially tell you how to feel. Like when they start talking about “attitude”, dealing with frustrations, difficulty is good, “take heart; God is in control”; all these memes you see daily on the social media wall. (Again, both secular and religious). One person talking to me goes as far as to even mimicking the “process” he was telling me to embark on (self-forgiveness), by sighing, breathing in, lightly beating the chest, and saying whatever you’re supposed to say to yourself.
All of this just drives me up the wall. It’s like, damn; you should just put a puppet or robot in my place, and pull the string or program it how to respond to life!

So when things don’t go right, to just tell me, basically, “if you love yourself it won’t matter”, “just forgive”, “don’t hold onto things”, “your reaction is only hurting yourself” (i.e. which feels like a cruel double-bind), etc., I feel like my whole humanity is being totally dismissed, and I’d become a walked-on nothing! (Inasmuch as they almost paradoxically claim this is the way to becoming a powerful “somebody”).
And this is from both secular self-help as well as religion (which often mixes this up with concepts such as “regeneration”, and usually substitute “God/Christ/Spirit” for “self”. But it’s really the same process everyone else is describing, even though they claim it is “supernatural” and exclusive to believers).

And those exercises! Ugh! Looking in a mirror and expressing love and other stuff to yourself, hugging yourself, writing stuff to yourself, and all the other “rules” and “steps”. Seems totally illogical and like almost crazy.

My family insisted this was “universal truth”. The ST perspective insists “this is the way it is” and allows no “excuses” or other reasoning. NTJ’s will focus on a more theoretical angle, such as a “[universal] Law of Attraction”.
They (especially the religious teachers) often present it as so “simple”, and always stress “choice”, but then it’s really a lifelong process.

[5-20-16 edit: Utter irony is that the very person who wrote that particular statement at the top of the article spends a lot of time spewing complaints about (among other things) Chicago “black on black crime” stories, and how they’re always “ignored” by the press and black activism (which isn’t even true). Yet he offers absolutely no solutions.

The rare occasions I or others (beside his agreeing fans) voice another view, he gets defensive and accuses us of talking “intellectual bs” or “making excuses”, [identical to the debate tactic I discussed in the second comment, below] for the black community, “wallowing in problems and just blaming others”, because he never let anyone keep him from “achieving”. But this isn’t about you, fool! The fact that you’re comparing an individual (who can be responsible for his own actions) to a whole group consisting of many individuals, with many different experiences and mental conditions, who no one person can be responsible for, and so cannot all be controlled by anyone), he apparently sees as an “intellectual” “excuse”. But there can only be an “excuse” if you’ve given a clear course of action that we’re refusing.
He just gets frustrated and says he doesn’t want to argue it (but then a week later, making some snide reference to the discussion in the next post about Chicago), if not cutting us off. (I say, good riddance, then! For this is nothing but, dare I say, —“negativity”! Nothing positive at all, like even so much as an idea for a start of solution. (See also,
This, recall, is the same person who earlier spoke of others “mired up in negativity, hate, anger, fear, despair, and doubt…always complaining about one thing or another” and that it was “negative energy” we should avoid. And that’s all I’m seeing here. The opposition he gets is never seen as the “exact same energy” he put into the universe coming back to him, as he said. It’s always the other person being ignorant).

This is obviously a “motivational” minded person, who’s read or studied some form of the Law of Attraction, but it’s gone to his head, especially when [despite his obvious “alpha male to the third power” persona, his ego is so weak that] he cannot deal with being questioned or challenged. Judging by both him and the others cited above, is this what the LOA is teaching people? That you’re so “positive” that you’re always right, and whoever disagrees is always wrong (and thus bringing in the “negative energy”? I guess the question is answered in the first comment below, where we see speakers talk of the “greater power” confronting the “narcissists” who react to being talked to like trash by the speaker).
You can’t allow some belief system to completely cloud your thinking like that where you must shut out everything else. What kind of “wisdom” or “truth” is that? It’s the same sort of indoctrination used by religious cults. It’s exactly what you accuse others “mired” in all these problems of doing.
(I thought he was an NTJ, but now it seems like he’s an ESTP on Se overdrive; hence making observations of “what is”, yet the ego being for whatever reason so immature, as to cling only to the dominant perspective and not give it any “rational” sense with a judgment [T], let alone giving it any real meaning with iNtuition. So any N and/or even [aux] T product is just dismissed as vain “intellectualizing” or “excuse-making”. An even less mature Fe also seeks a following of people who agree, and disengages people who don’t. The immature form of this type preference, particularly in black culture where it’s common, is discussed here:

Ths point here is, how this is a perfect example of how even under such motivational tough talking about “positivity”, and “avoiding negative energy”, there is a deep shadow of pure NEGATIVITY being projected onto others; i.e. you see it only in others, and talk about the need to “avoid” them, thinking you’ve got it all licked in yourself. But it’s clearly there! Coming out at others! Both in the initial endless complaining without solution, and in the response to others’ input.

This is why, whether secular or religious belief system, it’s best to follow Jesus’ instruction of cleaning the plank out of your eye before seeing to point out the speck in someone else’s, and to have mercy and patience with others, for you are ultimately at the end of the day no different, and no better!]

  1. Cracked, which is supposed to be a comedy magazine like MAD, now offers its own tough talking article:

    It starts out

    Feel free to stop reading this if your career is going great, you’re thrilled with your life, and you’re happy with your relationships. Enjoy the rest of your day, friend, this article is not for you. You’re doing a great job, we’re all proud of you.

    For the rest of you, I want you to try something: Name five impressive things about yourself. Write them down or just shout them out loud to the room. But here’s the catch — you’re not allowed to list anything you are (i.e., I’m a nice guy, I’m honest), but instead can only list things that you do (i.e., I just won a national chess tournament, I make the best chili in Massachusetts). If you found that difficult, well, this is for you, and you are going to f___ing hate hearing it.

    It uses a good analogy, regarding whether an emergency operation of a bullet wound would better be done by a “nice” guy” with a pocket knife, or a true surgeon.

    Its central theme is its citation of Alec Baldwin’character in the movie “Glengarry Glenn Ross”.

    Baldwin’s character — whom you assume is the villain — addresses a room full of dudes and tears them a new a__hole, telling them that they’re all about to be fired unless they “close” the sales they’ve been assigned:

    “Nice guy? I don’t give a s___. Good father? F___ you! Go home and play with your kids. If you want to work here, close.

    It’s brutal, rude, and borderline sociopathic, and also it is an honest and accurate expression of what the world is going to expect from you. The difference is that, in the real world, people consider it so wrong to talk to you that way that they’ve decided it’s better to simply let you keep failing.

    This assumes talking like that is the only way to motivate someone (which is the key fallacy of this whole “tough talk” approach).

    What’s most striking, is (as some commenters have mentioned) how he continuously second guesses people’s answers, including commenters:

    “What, so you’re saying that I can’t get girls like that unless I have a nice job and make lots of money?”

    No, your brain jumps to that conclusion so you have an excuse to write off everyone who rejects you by thinking that they’re just being shallow and selfish.

    Citing another blog:

    “If you were in that room, some of you would understand this as a work, but feed off the energy of the message anyway, welcome the coach’s cursing at you, ‘this guy is awesome!’; while some of you would take it personally, this guy is a jerk, you have no right to talk to me like that, or — the standard maneuver when narcissism is confronted with a greater power — quietly seethe and fantasize about finding information that will out him as a hypocrite. So satisfying.”

    “Greater power”? Is the speaker “divine” or something? Or so in touch with the divine, which to these people is likely some impersonal abstraction like “the life force”?

    The person being cursed at is the “narcissist” only; not the self-appointed thunderer of “truth” bellowing such words as if he’s ascended above the same ‘humanity’ that values its own ‘inertia’ (my term for what he describes, especially in point #1)?

    On one hand, we’re taught not to be rude to people, and so growing up learning that, for some people, including even the ones teaching you that you should be nice, even scolding you for being rude, to suddenly talk like that, and it’s supposedly justified, that sends a mixed message. (And so does a philosophy that only “gives” to others to get for one’s self, and says that a person is only as good as what he “does”. A saying goes “we’re human beings; not human doings”).

    So of course the person will naturally feel “how dare he talk to me like that”. How is that “narcissism” on his part? It sounds more like “narcissism” on the part of the person arrogating the authority to “break the rules” of social interaction. It’s like the people are all blinded, so I have to go against proper etiquette for a ‘higher purpose’. (And then tell the person I’m dressing down how they cause their own problems, by among other things, not using proper etiquette to make himself more likeable, or whatever the case; and thus is not really a “nice guy”.
    Which may or may not be true, but then where do you get off thinking you have the license to be so not nice? Because you don’t want anything from that person like he wants from others [as they might argue]? You seem to want him to hear and receive your message!)

    The worst aspects of old-time “religion”

    So they see themselves as the “humble messengers”. If you go against them, you’re “shooting the messenger”. It’s basically what’s called the “messiah” and “martyr” complex, taking after Christ, the ultimate divine messenger killed because people didn’t like the message. (And it was a little bit more than not liking a message; there was a whole political aspect to that as well).
    But these people put themselves in that position, like they’re the prophet of God, thundering the truth at you, and you either accept it, or you’re a subjective narcissistic fool! (It’s like the secular counterpart to religious “emulation”; ⦅see ⦆, and again, God has been replaced by “the universe”).

    But it’s like you do not even have the right to be offended. That just all the more proves something’s wrong with you. You’re not “enlightened” like these “messengers”. (Again, you wonder how people in the world who respect or follow this could ever resent the old hellfire preachers the way many of them do!)

    Again, just love how they tell you the right way to feel [likely inferior Fi; see link in above comment]. And again, it ignores the influence of personality type, making it seem like there’s only one “right” type to behave like in life (likely something like ENTJ, ESTJ, or ESTP [strong Choleric types], and at one point, he even says “You might even have to change your personality“).
    We all might as well be puppets, programmed how to respond.

    “You don’t have to like it. I don’t like it when it rains on my birthday. It rains anyway. Clouds form and precipitation happens. People have needs and thus assign value to the people who meet them. These are simple mechanisms of the universe and they do not respond to our wishes.”

    It’s like the universe itself is “god”, and there’s apparently, absolutely no concept of “grace”. (But to be fair, as this is secular, you cannot expect them to acknowledge the theological concept of “grace”. But what we end up with is a de-personalized version of the most fearsome aspects of God; of Law without Grace).

    He makes a good observation about Christians who just say “let me pray for you”, which absolves them from actually having to do anything, and this leads into a citation of Jesus:

    “Jesus said something to the effect of ‘a tree is judged by its fruit’ over and over and over. Granted, Jesus never said, ‘If you want to work here, close.’ [note: thank God, quite literally. Though some portions of the church act as if He did say that!] No, he said, ‘Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.'”
    True, but this is in a particular context, of doing work for His Kingdom; and for that generation of “firstfruits”. He would also go on to say that the one justified is the one who admits his imperfection and pleads for mercy; not the one who can boast of all his accomplishments. Such philosophers will cite scripture only as far as it appears to support their points.

    Give and take in the world of people

    It should also be pointed out that the whole “nice guy” thing is not just something a bunch of narcissistic knucklehead egos made up just to stroke themselves. It’s based on what we’re taught in society. To put it in the terms I outline here: humans are governed by a sense of “equilibrium”; that when we make the “expense” of moving from a state of “inertia” in such things as making an effort to be “nice” and not just follow animal instincts, then we should be rewarded with some form of gratification. This is precisely what the defenders of those with the most power (the “beneficiaries” of the way of the world) appeal to when they dub them the “makers” who “deserve” all the wealth even while others (expensees) struggle.

    But of course, this article, as well as this one:,* point out that success is not really based on this concept of “equilibrium”, but rather, basically, what would amount to giving others direct “gratification” (being “nice” is more “neutral”, such as merely the lack of bad qualities, as they point out, and not really giving anything); and not through simply the “quality” of the product, but rather the number of people impacted, as the latter site stresses.

    Like being “nice”, and even suffering in itself is just that, only a form of “being”, and thus doesn’t produce “value” for most in the world. Hence, many people suffer many different things endlessly with no compensation. Only “doing” produces value, which it is assumed, is a kind of suffering; but more voluntary and active (thus, “expending”, and giving up “inertia”; more on this below).

    Still, the fact that equilibrium does still play a large part of human affairs (like in laws, sales, and basic “give and take” among your immediate circle), it should be understandable why people would expect being “nice” should be enough. (It does have an element of “doing”, because it involves a measure of restraint from other not-so-nice things you could be doing, and that our natural “inertia” to turning from our instinctual drives would inhibit constraint).

    *This site outlines three “rules” of life, regarding our perception of “fairness”:

    Rule #1: Life is a competition
    Rule #2. You’re judged by what you do, not what you think
    Rule #3. Our idea of fairness is self interest (i.e. another person we fancy is a different person with different experiences, etc. and so hence may not fancy you back; bosses who do things you don’t like may see things you don’t, etc. and so are not judgments on us. It can be summed up as “free will”).

    It concludes

    Our idea of fairness isn’t actually obtainable. It’s really just a cloak for wishful thinking.
    Can you imagine how insane life would be if it actually was ‘fair’ to everyone? No-one could fancy anyone who wasn’t the love of their life, for fear of breaking a heart. Companies would only fail if everyone who worked for them was evil. Relationships would only end when both partners died simultaneously. Raindrops would only fall on bad people.

    Shadow poking; and how everyone gratifies themselves, even in producing value

    But it’s in point #1, where he for all purposes tries to probe into the reader’s very shadow, and throw it in their face; as to how and why they will respond as they do.
    A lot of this may be true, but then you wonder who appoints someone such an authority [which naturally is similar to some of the objections he pre-supposes].

    He speaks of offended people looking to dig up something in the speaker’s life to use to dismiss him; but it’s true, that people who “preach” like this, often have something big in their shadow they’re suppressing. They’re just extra good at suppressing it (though it still comes out in various, subtle ways). Yet by speaking like that at others, they make themselves a big “target”. Just like religious leaders who don’t “practice what they preach” on moral issues they so loudly thunder at others. Think, the common expression “Physician, heal thyself!”
    That’s not the fault of the “offended” readers/listeners. My father used to say a lot of this kind of stuff all toughly, and yet he himself was never able to really rise above an at best mediocre, and at worst, miserable existence. (All the while even going as far as to boast how he “lived his life”. Obviously, one reason I am skeptical of this approach. It wasn’t something I had to lie in wait and eagerly “find” out about him; it was pretty obvious by the end of his life, and sad to all, and even acknowledged by his own admission at times).

    So the question to tough-talkers is what are you bothering to expend so much energy in heated invective (and creating bad feelings on both sides) for, in trying to motivate somebody to something, when you can’t even do it yourself?
    It’s called projection. This is what we do with our shadow (the unconscious stuff we don’t like). We see it in the other person, and then attack it in him. It becomes, in Jesus’ words “loading down others with heavy burdens that you would not lift with one of your fingers”. (Of course, they talk like they do, but if they are honest, they don’t, really. That’s when you get “it’s a daily struggle“).
    Regardless of how graceless “the universe” may be, WE are all imperfect creatures having to deal with other imperfect creatures, and that’s why we must have grace toward others.

    Then, you also have “#3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don’t Do Anything”

    “So, what, you’re saying that I should pick up a book on how to get girls?”

    Only if step one in the book is “Start making yourself into the type of person girls want to be around.”

    Because that’s the step that gets skipped — it’s always “How can I get a job?” and not “How can I become the type of person employers want?” It’s “How can I get pretty girls to like me?” instead of “How can I become the type of person that pretty girls like?” See, because that second one could very well require giving up many of your favorite hobbies and paying more attention to your appearance, and God knows what else. You might even have to change your personality.

    “But why can’t I find someone who just likes me for me?” you ask. The answer is because humans need things. The victim is bleeding, and all you can do is look down and complain that there aren’t more gunshot wounds that just fix themselves?

    The assumption is that the successful all spent their lives forgoing inertia, giving up hobbies, and even their “personalities”, to “give others what they want” (sounds so nice and personable, doesn’t it?), and totally let the outer world dictate their courses of action (and are thus the true “expendees”); while these losers complaining of things going wrong all indulged in the “instant gratification” of their hobbies and whatever else (and are often the true “beneficiaries”, even if the end result is not favorable), so that’s why, not only do they deserve to fail so hard, but they also deserve to be scolded to an inch of their life, or a “fire lit under their a__”, etc.

    But everyone gratifies themselves; only some had the timing, talent and temperament to be able to exploit the situations at hand and find their niche. (More on this below).
    But they again will say you should acquire the talents, which is the one thing under our control, but then they seem to think the other two can be changed as well. But to some, even the process of doing all of that stuff, pulling themselves up the ladder is basically gratifying themselves!

    Most of the people with the most success are really those for whom “being” and “doing” manage to come together. They were inclined [being] to do [doing] what they are doing (thus “being”=”doing”); and so what they do [doing] is what comes naturally [being], and happens to produce value (“doing”=”being”).

    Like I’m typing away on the computer maintaining this blog and sites, in addition to participating in the handful of social media and interest forums in my daily circuit. This gets considered as “hobby” or leisure because I’m not making my living off of it. Someone doing the same things, but finding a way to market it, or even getting exposure that allows people to see the value, and makes a lot of money from it; then it’s no longer considered a “hobby”; he’s now credited with “hard work” and even “delayed gratification” and defended as one of the “makers” the rest of us are judged in comparison to.
    To tell me to stop what I’m doing and do something else (learning some whole new activity from scratch, and apparently, whether I’m even interested in it or not) is not going to help, any more than taking the successful person away from his occupation. He was just more fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, to find a market for it.

    Yes, people can be angry at themselves (consciously or un/subconsciously) for their decisions when they haven’t worked out as well as hoped. Bringing this up is likely suggesting they are only projecting this “anger” or “hatred” out at the successful. For some this may be the case, but then this can be turned back around to suggest the rich, successful and powerful (and their defenders) who get so defensive and lash back at the less successful are angry at themselves for prospering (gratifying themselves according to their instinctual drives of “survival” and in opposition to a neglected conscience) while others struggle.
    In either case, it’s a seesaw between “primary” and “secondary” gains; of inertia and gratification or conscience.

    When someone has better fortune than us, we often ask “what did he do that I didn’t?” Often, there is no answer, but this philosophy is claiming that they always did do something you didn’t.

    And at the same time, these things are spoken in “all or nothing” universals, such as life or death; “close”, or you’re nothing. But there are a lot more grey areas in life. Most people struggling financially are not asking to be millionaires. Most of the “nice guys” who are lonely aren’t expecting an arm full of girls.

    The values of society are part of the problem too

    Let’s face it, the values of society are often warped. Hence, the other site points out how you can “get naked for fifty million people and you might just be Kim Kardashian” [and thus producing more “value” than someone getting naked for one person], and hence, “A cancer researcher is rewarded less than a supermodel. Why? Because those abilities are rarer and impact more people.”
    This would basically amount to the gunshot victim rejecting the guy with the knife because he wants the supermodel instead of a surgeon (even if he’s up in the mountains, and the guy with the knife just might be his best hope after all, even if he’s not totally qualified). Like “don’t bother distracting me with the pain of removing the bullet; I want to see the supermodel”.

    They’re telling us to just give society whatever it wants and not judge its values, but then they’re judging the character of everyone who is not where they want to be.


  2. [cont’d]:

    In the comments, most were the “humble” fans, accepting the talk, and how it “lit a fire” under them, etc. I wonder how well this will go for them. (This article is apparently reprinted at the beginning of every year, when people are making “resolutions”, which of course, often aren’t kept).

    TL:DR “oh noes, you have to work for s**t LIKE I DID! And maybe, just maybe you once may be as awesome as me.”
    This might be harsh truths if you are in your late teens and just starting the adult life, otherwise nothing here should come as a surprise. Sure, not always what one wants to hear, but still no huge shock in anything here. More a bitter whine over all the hard work and sacrifice one has to make marked as a blog and pushed in the neverending series of “zomg, i hate this and if you dont you are stupid” series cracked seems to have fallen in love with the last couple of years.

    I think you just became his “example number 2”. So long as you view yourself as being “above” the lesson then you’ll never be willing to learn it. Go achieve some humility, bro. No one needs an a*****e. That’s why you don’t feel successful and that’s why you spend your time saying, doing and reading things that don’t apply to you. (Though I think this article does.)

    Who thinks they are “above” anything? Who’s now getting quasi-“religious” on us, talking about “humility”, and knows what’s in people’s hearts?
    He didn’t even indicate anywhere that he didn’t feel successful. But this is what they do. It’s all they can do to fill in the holes they missed in their ideology.

    It’s important to add one more caveat. Your success depends on sheer dumb luck.

    Oh sure, you can take steps to reduce how much luck you’ll need. The guy who practices basic hygiene like showering and dressing properly is relying on much less luck at finding a girlfriend than the person who refuses to change their shirt ten days in a row. But ultimately, whether or not that cute girl they both asked out responds to them isn’t up to them, it’s up to her. And there’s not a goddamn thing they can do to ensure her agreement to a date. Why? Free will.

    It’s not even restricted to finding a partner. Making a sale, getting a job, ANYTHING that relies on things outside of your own personal body is reliant on things that are beyond your control. Even if you put a f*****g gun to someone’s head and DEMAND they buy that real estate, you better hope that person responds to intimidation because it turns out you can’t force people to do s**t.

    Notice something missing in Alec Baldwin’s speech? Steps on HOW to close. He threw some vague terms at them and then demanded they ALWAYS BE DOING YOUR JOB. Because no matter how awesome you are, how big your balls are, how expensive your watch and car are, how much money you take home, that still isn’t a magic win button to make someone obey you.

    It’s not something people like to think about, because they think it mitigates the hard work they do. They’d rather not think that the line between people that succeed and people that fail is razor thin. It’s the same type of thinking that leads Republicans to believe all poor people are just people who are too lazy or stupid to succeed.

    Hard work and preparation and being smart will mitigate how much luck you need by a lot. But that last step to success still depends on luck being there.

    TL;DR: Sometimes despite your big brass balls, you’ll still fail, because life sucks and you’ll never know why.

    you sound like a person who, instead of actually getting off your ass and doing something, simply has a smart sounding or philosophically grounded argument as to why a person shouldn’t get off their ass and do something. just sayn

    This is just like in a political debate on a “Christian” board, when people told me I need to get off of “assistance” and pull myself up, just because I was arguing against their rhetoric. They know just from what you’re arguing, that you must be the one suffering from not doing enough, even if you nowhere said any such thing, or defended not doing anything.

    Also, the typical answer to the lack of information on “how to close”, is “that’s not my problem; that’s your problem. Just close”. Basically, “I got mine, so there is no reason you can’t get yours”, in total ignorance of the laws of time and chance.

    People deny things beyond their control. This is one part of their “shadow” (the weakness suppressed into the unconscious behind a persona of perfect strength and confidence).
    I used to hear people say “You can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t try to do it, just do it”. OK, like how about lift 10 tons. At that point, if it was me they were talking to, and I answered like that, they would get totally frustrated.
    In a place where we need clarity, we get a lot of overgeneralization that sounds good to the motivational speaker, preacher, etc. selling it, but is really not as practical as they claim. But the way it’s set up is that they just blame those who it doesn’t work for. They have to. Their whole business is riding on it.

    A long time ago, I had figured:
    “Fortune, or ‘luck’; I would define as ‘an unknown principle of a disposition of a situation to a particular outcome especially to benefit or to adversity that is out of control of the person involved’; (rather than any magical or mystical meaning commonly associated with the words). The emphasis is on ‘unknown’ and ‘out of control of the person’. Whatever exactly, or directly causes things, much of the circumstances of life fit this description, from our perspective.”

    The thing about this article is the tone, the approach he takes. Many of the points he makes are valid to one degree or another, but the “Harshness” is entirely a contrivance, and the messages would be better served without it. I know he preemptively refuted all criticism about the tone (Which is kinda chickenshit, to be honest), but hey.

    Many of the points he makes are shocking and unpleasant for the sake of it; #6, who are these “People” who are demanding so much from you? Employers? If so, then absolutely, and only a dangerously naive individual would dispute that. Beyond that…family, friends? In a dire situation, perhaps, maybe one identical to the scenario he describes, but that’s it. If your family and friends won’t give you at least SOME lee-way based on your charming personality, odds are good you’re Franz Kafka.

    #5 is the only one that’s flat-out asinine. That scene in Glengarry Glen Ross, while amazing (I sometimes find it difficult to finish the movie on Netflix, just repeating that scene over and over), was written by David Mamet to be everything wrong with Business Culture in this country, and he knew it. He worked in a Boiler Room like that in his youth, he knew how those mentalities lead to ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and the Financial Crisis. Anyone who would praise that scene as insightful is a sociopath, rather than a mature individual.

    (That’s a good point. “This “just close” mentality is precisely what drives the system of capitalism as it is practiced here, where we are plunged into a total “ice-age” of survivalistic instincts as if there was total scarcity, even though we still have the greatest abundance. Where executives have to cut jobs, quality, services, while raising prices, and evading taxes and regulation in one way or another, etc., and drive onesself into the ground, while screwing the rest of the public, all to make the profit, and “close”. There’s no thought of purpose, health, or wellbeing; of others, or even self [beyond getting bigger houses, cars, yachts, etc. and still ending up empty and wanting something else. And this, mind you also a mindset of “instant gratification” regardless of the process taken to get there]).
    The response to that:

    About the speech: he’s not saying it’s good things are like that, or that it’s ideal. He’s saying this is how it is and how it will be, and you had best learn to live with it or your life will suck.

    But he didn’t say anything about it being “good” or “ideal”; he addressed the TONE. It’s hard enough with things being like that, without some nasty coaching through it. (Unless you’re one of those types who likes things like that; but not everyone is like that, and nor should they be).

    This one goes directly after the second-guessing:

    Mostly I love you, David, but I got a real problem with the way you sometimes preemptively deflect criticism in your articles. This one and your Superhero one include a “If you disagree, you’re part of the problem” tagline that I find to be very problematic. It’s like you lack the confidence to accept the criticism, and the “If you agree, I’m right, and if you disagree, I’m still right” thing is very reminiscent of Freud. I think you’re better than that, Jason.

    He is basically asking the Internet to punch him in the face with this article (if female writer had written this article some people would have invented an entirely new coding language made entirely out of death threats). So I understand if he wants to disarm some rethorical weapons beforehand.

    On the other hand does he is a person who half-way lucked into running on of the largest humor sites in the world, so easy for him to say…

    So if this is “the way life is”, then that’s enough as it is. It certainly doesn’t need DEFENDING, justification, rationalization, etc. Nobody (or at least most of us [don’t]) needs someone yelling, cursing, rubbing it in, and making character judgments and blaming us for our own dissatisfaction. Life is hard enough (as you’ve been pointing out).
    People should also see that we’re all the same, ultimately, and flaws you see in others are present in yourself, in one way or another. We are all egos with a tendency for narcissism and a desire for inertia and instant gratification (again, in one way or another). To try to rub this in others’ faces is likely a coverup for a shadow of guilt and fear masked behind “factual” tough-talk.

  3. Just saw someone post this:

    This is typical of the attitude I’ve seen a lot, in people pitching “self-help”; both secular and religious; discussed above. It sounds like it makes sense, but its whole vibe is totally negative, and thus betrays the “shadow” element hidden behind the platitude.
    In those sort of “spiritual”-type self-improvement concepts, isn’t “intolerance” itself a big form of “negativity”? Isn’t true strength something that will radiate, and possibly bring others up, instead of itself being so frail and vulnerable to being brought down?

    It sounds like some sort of “nose-in-the-air” narcissism (and recall, the advocates of these teachings love to toss that term out at others, including the “unhappy” or discontent). Clearly, no good will come out of it, except to the immediate feeling of “happiness” of the person.
    (And then “happiness” is the often tossed around yet poorly defined term, which has also become a staple of pop-evangelical teaching).

    So yes; it’s true that other’s negativity can bring us down, but this is precisely because we are still frail and broken, and have not mastered things as much as this makes it seem. So again, what is needed is more gracefulness to those more downtrodden than us.

  4. The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous
    Its faith-based 12-step program dominates treatment in the United States. But researchers have debunked central tenets of AA doctrine and found dozens of other treatments more effective.

    “When the 12 steps don’t work for someone like J.G., Alcoholics Anonymous says that person must be deeply flawed.”

    “We cling to this one-size-fits-all theory even when a person has a small problem.”

    That sums it up. Whenever there’s a “self-help” enterprise like this (whether secular or religious; like all the televangelists; and AA is like inbetween the two), they HAVE to prove it WORKS, and if it doesn’t, it must be the counselee’s fault. They have to do that, in order to be able to keep selling their method or service.

  5. People (both religious and secular) want to believe fate (personalized in God, for theists) is on their side.

    It’s a twisted combination of God’s “grace”, and one’s own will through self-effort (for non-theists, the divine part will be replaced with either nature, or someone with a more abstract belief system will place it on some more nebulous replacement of God, but in any case, it’s something beyond man’s control).
    Grace and merit become tangled up, where people want to believe they were worthy of their success, but can’t bring themselves to deny God and/or other forces beyond their control. So they come up with concepts such as “providence” and the “Serenity prayer” which includes “wisdom to know the difference” between what you can achieve, and what’s beyond your control.
    Among some in “the world”, it’s generally an assumption in one way or another that those who did not succeed didn’t try hard enough (i.e. that the most that is beyond your control is a “setback”, but it can never stop you completely). Synergistic traditions in Christianity resort to this mindset in matters of “faith” (i.e. when someone says it’s too hard to believe, or to live the Christian life, and for health&wealth gospel, to successfully “name it and claim it”)

    Regarding debates like America being rightly founded through conquest, but now wrongly “brought down” through immigration or “foreign” ideology (Marxism, etc), or secular powerful people protesting the government or other forces reining them in because it’s only “natural” for them to succeed; if you insist either God or nature led someone else to fall, and for you to rise, then that same God and/or nature can take from you and give to someone else, and you can’t claim some great anti-God or unnatural wrong is doing it, unless you think you’re God (i.e. the universe/nature serves you), or some special favorite of His.


    “In a more recent study, of over 1,200 of the world’s wealthiest people, self-made millionaire Steve Siebold uncovered similar findings, which he details in his book, How Rich People Think.

    He noticed something surprising throughout his research: Rich people find comfort in uncertainty.

    Meanwhile, the average person finds peace of mind in familiarity, and hesitates to leave their comfort zone.

    This desire for comfort comes at a cost.”

    This is another aspect affected by the “temperament” portion of “talent, timing, temperament”. Se types (The SP’s, and NJ’s), dubbed “Realizing Awareness”, include the most “dominant” types; the pure Choleric (ENTJ, the most “serious”), the pure Sanguine (ESFP, the most “fun-loving” and the Choleric Sanguine (ESTP; basically in between the two). These types can deal with “uncertainty” more. Ne also makes one think of “uncertainty”, and so the ENTP Sanguine Choleric and ENFP Sanguine Phlegmatic might be somewhat like their S counterparts in that regard. (But the intangible perception is what’s aligned with the external world, where for Se, the tangible is what’s taken in an emergent fashion, so Ne is not quite as much about leaping into the unknown). Furthermore, when Ne is auxiliary, and Ji is dominant with Si as tertiary, then there is more of a desire for certainty and familiarity, as is the case naturally for Si as dom. or aux. (SJ’s. Choleric Melancholy ESTJ will be the most dominant of these groups, but will still likely tend to be a middle-manager type as compared to the other Cholerics). Ne and Si need to “inquire” in order to compare data. Se and Ni are more suited for data to be “realized” right away, so that you can take leaps into the unknown.

    This shows why it seems so hard to me, as I’m torn between the need for freedom from the increasing sort of control of this agency I’m in, and the relative “comfort” of the stability of the institution. Just jump out at something, I’m more likely to misjudge what opportunities emerge, and then, when tripped by that, not as good as seeing the opportunities to rescue myself. So I end up staying firmly put. (and as we see, some people see it’s just “laziness” or “weakness”, and of course, these typological explanations are just “rationalizations”, because look; they can do it so easily). The Realizing Awareness perspective (or at least some close guides or support network with people with that perspective) is what’s good for this sort of entrepreneurship.

  7. Seeing increasingly sites requiring you to turn off ad-blockers to access the site, and yet still experiencing certain popups that get through, and often have uncontrollable effects, I kept wondering why they had to use popups so much to begin with. It comes off as what I call the “nuisance quota”. It’s just people deciding to be difficult, for a supposedly survivalistic reason that likely does not work, and thus only serves to confirm how “life is difficult”. (Forcing people to see these ads does not guarantee they will buy what’s being sold. But they have to keep trying, “just in case”).

    So I decided to look it up why they use these things.
    I run across this site, with this guy, in a typical “tough-talk” motivational “this is the RIGHT WAY to think and act, or you’re worthless” sort of way, justifying it. (He even goes after “haters”, and those who say they avoid sites with popups, but nevertheless are on his site anyway).

    A simple popup may be one thing, but people have reasons for blocking them (I’m thinking of sites that make you turn off ad-blockers), and are not simply having a “bad attitude” toward finding a solution to a problem. ([As he actually claimed] Which is a generalization, and many of them are for things we can get elsewhere, or are otherwise not of interest, or seem to be bootleg or other questionable sources; or at least, you don’t really know. Most smart people won’t say “oh, great; just what I need” and click on it). Many of them seem to be such elaborate scripts that they hog up memory and can even crash the browser. Some even take over the browser, and you have to kill it with the task manager, so you don’t even see the site you were coming to read. I don’t see what kind of people, again, will reward such sites with buying whatever it is they are forcing on you.
    I don’t understand what is wrong with a simple inline static ad (or could be an animated gif. Or at least a more simple popup that doesn’t take much memory or do anything else to the system). [He suggests people won’t notice ads unless they are popups, citing an example of people told to watch football passes, who then fail to notice a gorilla walking across the field]. Use flashy colors or something, and it will be noticeable. The example of the gorilla to me is what would be greatly analogous to a popup, and the point was how it still wasn’t noticed. All it’s doing is being an annoyance. Just making them as annoying and difficult as possible, because, hey some other sucker out there will click on it, just comes off as almost trollish. They must be laughing as my whole system freezes down, and have I even bought any of their crap? No! So why are they doing it?

    Here’s an article addressing this. Popups can infect with malware as well!

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