Are You Addicted to This Too?

Today’s post is a little longer than usual, because it’s something that has been on my mind a lot lately.

If you are like me, then you probably keep a stack a self-development books by your bedside, visit a few key blogs when you are feeling funky, have gone on a retreat or two in the last 2 years and/or enrolled in a program to improve yourself, your body or your business.

Maybe you treat yourself to a mani/pedi now again or put on a pretty shade of lipstick when you are not feeling so hot.

All things to help make you feel better, do better or be better.

Hoorah! Good for you for being proactive!

However, today, I want to ask you what your life would really be like if all of these feel better tactics were taken away?

I am talking no more journaling, gratitude lists, meditations or programs.

(Car screech. Say what?! Don’t worry. It’s just for the remainder of this post. Then you may have them back.)

In this day and age, we have access to a lot of self-development technology. We have programs that will help us become the happiest person we know, meditations that will help us make more money and exercise to help us not feel fat.

My guess is that this list of TRICKS you have learned to do when you are not feeling your Oprah Winfrey best self varies between:

Taking a walk
Writing in your journal
Going to yoga
Getting a massage
Having sex
Not having sex
Enrolling in a new online course
Hiring a coach
Quitting your job
Starting a business

And I want to emphasize here that I think many of these things are ABSOLUTELY wonderful. And should be done! In fact, I rattled them off quickly, because they are all things I know intimately.

However, I can’t help but feel that lately we are obsessed with some of these “tools” no differently than how we were obsessed with leg warmers in the 80’s, grunge music in the 90’s all the way to our smartphones of today.

Sure, we might dress these FEEL BETTER tricks up in the “I am just getting in touch with my authentic soulful self” wrapping paper, but really, we often use them not just to feel better, but to avoid feeling crappy. (I mean who’s to say your authentic self doesn’t want to be raving pissed off today? It’s just a thought.)

We desperately want to avoid variations of not feeling good enough, feeling depressed, frustrated, ugly, broke, ashamed or afraid.

Some of the tricks have simply become a way to numb and escape the very real and uncomfortable feelings of our life.

And while sometimes, dear god, avoiding is necessary (ahem, binging on Breaking Bad after a bad day? Yes please), I often wonder what we would be left with if we couldn’t use some of the fancy spiritual machinery we turn to when we feel like crap.

How often do you dig into your spiritual tool kit just so that you don’t have to actually feel, look at, or address what you might be ashamed of feeling or what you may not want to admit to experiencing?

Would you actually still LIKE the person you were if you had to sit with the fact that you were angry, depressed, sad, broke or (gasp!) felt fat?

Lately, I have come to notice that when put in situations that make me feel deeply uncertain, insecure, or frustrated, if I don’t turn to one of “my tools”, it is almost as if I don’t recognize the person I am being. Or if I being honest, I don’t like the looks of her.

“Unacceptable!” my mind shouts.  “Figure your stuff out, Stutland. Get it together. Otherwise, you’re gross/boring/lame.”

It’s as if these feelings of inferiority are so overwhelming, so dark, that we cannot, will not, let them live for another moment.

Instead, we will go take a yoga class, sign up for a program, get the latest self-help book, breathe. Return to center. Ah, much better. Now we are good humans again.

But before, when we were all anxious and irritated… unacceptable!

You see, it is very easy (and tempting) to channel that yucky energy into things that are actually GOOD for you.

We feel fat, so we go exercise.
We feel anxious, so we meditate.
We feel like we don’t have enough money/information/confidence so we enroll in a training.

All of these things can be AWESOME. They are AWESOME.

But if you didn’t do them or couldn’t do them, would you still be acceptable?  (To yourself, really.)

People get down on others who are materialistic and collect a lot of things. We thumb our noses at them saying, “That guy with the Mercedes and much younger woman on his arm is having a midlife crisis. He just needs those THINGS to make himself feel better. He is so insecure.”

But who would you be without your self-development yoga/journaling/programs?

Probably not all that different than the guy having a midlife crisis. Someone looking to feel better, because life makes you question yourself sometimes. And that’s ok.

If you couldn’t read another self help book again, would you still believe like you were a evolving spiritually?

If you didn’t make 6 figures in your business, would you still believe like you were living up to your potential?

If you gained 10 lbs. while also teaching people about exercise, could you still feel that you and your information were of value?

If your answer is no, well today I am not going to tell you how to make it a yes.

(Because then I would be adding another tool to your toolbox. And today is about not using our tools:)

I am simply going to invite you to sit with. It’s a little uncomfortable. I know.

And guess what. You are still here, reading this next word.

You probably can handle more of it than you think. And maybe THIS is the authentic you. For today.

By now you might be thinking, but Erin, don’t you teach us some of these tools in Shrink Session, Magical Manifesters and on your blog? Well, indeed I do.

I do teach tools. I freakin’ love tools. They have certainly helped me get through some rough times.

But no matter how many tools I collect, I still have to deal with me. The real me. The messy and sometimes gross me.

And hey, baby, so do you.

Because when the stuff hits the fan, if you haven’t spent mano y mano time with you, there are really no tools that will truly make you feel better.

So my hope is that these feel better strategies are used wisely, at the right time and in the right ways. Not in all ways. Not all the time.

Mostly, my hope is that we all get better at being ok with the people we are today. In this body. In this moment.

My wish is that every time we feel the weight of real life, we don’t feel like we need to fix it or run from it but rather we trust deeply that we can handle it.

My dream is that in order to feel seen and acknowledged it doesn’t require us sharing every last detail of our life on Facebook.

My desire is that we let life in a little more rather than trying to control the chaos that it is some time.

Because life IS crazy. It’s wild. It’s unpredictable. And it doesn’t always tie up in a neat….


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44 Responses to Are You Addicted to This Too?

  1. Jordan Yanco says:

    90’s grunge is the answer to everything for me. Give me some Nirvana, Pearl Jam, STP, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains and I can take anything life throws at me. xoxo

  2. Shonda says:

    I REALLY needed to hear this today. This morning I was feeling so tired and mentally drained, I did NOT want to go exercise, yet I was afraid that not going would make me feel worse. I was in such a mood that I could only focus on feeling crappy, so I tried making a mental gratitude list, and while it allowed me to focus on some things OTHER than feeling bad and was nice, it did not erase those bad thoughts and feelings when all was said and done. Thank you for giving me permission to just be with my feelings today, whatever they may be. xo

  3. Julie says:

    Amen, Erin!! It amazes me how many ways exist to numb or avoid our bad feelings. Like you said in your opening line, it’s actually addictive behavior. Sitting with our icky feelings is so hard to do, and turning to self-help tools can easily be disguised as an enlightened behavior rather than an addictive one. Thanks for posting this, Erin!

  4. Lena says:

    Thanks for sharing Erin, this post is what I needed to hear today! Life really is unpredictable and crazy, I’m so glad you pointed that out and made me feel that it’s not just with me, and that a good way to deal with it is just to feel the feelings, just sit with them – I think that’s the best way to really deal with it 🙂
    Lots of love!

  5. Romena says:

    Thank you for posting this Erin – what comes up for me when I read this is something I always say to myself “their is so much comfort in discomfort”. Every time I feel a negative emotion – doubt, fear, anxious, depression… I sit with it. It took many years to learn this but when I just acknowledge and say “Okay Ro, you feel depressed.. don’t fight it.. resist the urge to play a song, read a blog etc. Just sit and accept”… It goes away! Their is actually a lot of freedom in it. It also allows me to really feel things – when happiness is felt its REALLY felt.. the same goes with sadness. I’ll end with this quote I once found “Oh you feel sad today? Don’t worry it’ll change…Oh you feel happy today? Don’t worry, it’ll change to!”

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks for this reminder.

    • Erin says:

      So, so wise Romena:) I couldn’t agree with you more. xo

    • Cara Epstein says:

      This is my favorite philosophy for parenting, too. If you love what your kid is doing right now, enjoy the moment because it will change. If you can’t stand what your kid is doing right now (not sleeping, picky eater, tantrums, etc), just hang on because that will change, too. The only constant is change.

  6. Kim says:

    Thanks Erin! This is conformation for me today as I have been in a funk for the last 5 months……my dad passed away in November after two years of taking care of him myself so then I moved back to my home, went thru the sad holidays, had to put my dog to sleep that was suffering from cancer, went thru the move process, which is still ongoing…..omg! On top of all of this I am dealing with my difficult brother with settleing my dad’s estate and I am having a hard time finding a job ……..all of this has had me fighting myself with ups and downs and hating who I had become! I don’t want to go on antidepressants because I feel I need to deal with all of this and not just bury it! I going to take this time and try to focus on my photography business and just get back to the. R EAL me! ;). Thanks for giving me permission to do this and I am going to try to stop feeling the pressure that society puts on us to be 100% all the time! Looking forward to your postings! Thanks again! (((Hugs)))

    • Erin says:

      So sorry for your loss Kim and your current struggles. I do believe loss and all that comes with it is something every single one of us goes through. And the sadness that you feel is real and a part of being a live. May you continue to have the courage to move through each and every emotion without worrying that something is wrong with you or you are less than just because. Big hug. xx

  7. Angie says:

    This is amazing, Erin, and not something I see getting pointed out much if ever! One of my good friends once said, “sometimes you need to put down the self help books and go and live life.” At the time, I couldn’t really understand this. “I am living life!” I thought. A couple months ago I began a recovery process from an eating disorder I’ve been dealing w in one way or another for 12 years. Since then, what I’ve realized, is sometimes there are times where I hate the way I am, how I’m reacting, and I so badly want to be at peace, recovered, calm… But it’s not always possible. Sometimes the only thing I can do is just sit and accept the “stuff”. And say, “this is me, right now.”

    • Erin says:

      So, so smart Angie. And I agree with your friend, we have to put down the books and not be so afraid to experience what life is throwing our way. And I think it takes a lot of bravery to sit with your stuff. So kudos to you, sister:) xx

  8. Thanks, Erin. A nice first read of the day. Yes, we must allow ourselves to be imperfect. There is so much pressure to have it all together, it’s exhausting. For me, struggling to put myself out there as an exercise teacher even though I don’t have the glossy People magazine shine of the uber fit is a challenge. We all have the same insecurities and it is so refreshing to let it just be what it is, a snaggy, clunky, uneven journey. Sometimes we float along with ease, other times we stumble and grumble. Having the support of other humans dealing with the same stuff is wonderful. Knowing we have tools to turn to is great but sometimes just acknowledging the muck can get us through it.

  9. Laura says:

    This is going to sound like a weird way to start off, but I just wanted to let you know that I am currently going through and unsubscribing from the myriad of email I get on a daily basis (stuff that I don’t look at anymore, or stuff that I never looked at to begin with). My point is that I love love LOVE getting the email updates when you post on here! I couldn’t imagine unsubscribing! You always give me something to think about, and it is always so on-point with what’s going on in my life at the time. Thank you for being you and constantly challenging me to be a better me, but also taking the time to really live within myself – good, BAD, or otherwise. 🙂

    • Erin says:

      Thank you so much, Laura. I appreciate that and so honored to share some light in your inbox:) Thanks for leaving a comment today, lady. xx

  10. DJ says:

    Love today’s message – I’ve thought about the same thing and really needed to hear it – thank you!!

  11. Janice Gipson says:

    Thank you, I needed this, it’s what I’ve really gotta do right now to make a day-to-day difference in my responses to life. But….did you really mean mano a mano,hand to hand? Or did you mean monkey to monkey, as I read mono a mono, :-o! I’m thinking either could be appropriate, lol!

  12. Paula says:

    I’m so glad that some folks are articulating finally what I’ve been thinking about for awhile (while wondering why I never seem to “succeed” with all the self-improvement tools): that sitting with what is is as (or more) important than working toward something else that isn’t (yet … or ever). I didn’t know what bothered me about all of these good ideas and practices, but you said it – them tools can be used as an escape hatch to run away from rather than run to what needs looking at.

    I love seeing connections among blogs I read, and here’s something from Danielle LaPorte that talks about this issue: “I think we spend much of our lives dancing in the valley of striving and peace. Striving from a sense of deficiency only fueled an obsession with self-improvement that kept me running in circles right ’round what I was looking for: the pulsating, nourishing place of my true nature, which is the doorway to fulfilling all my desires.”

    Your true nature is true, even if you think it sucks sometimes and even if it changes, so you no longer recognize it at first. I love the freedom of just stopping to look and listen and, as I read elsewhere lately, ask myself how I can be kinder to myself around this issue, how I can feel what I’m feeling without judging it. Sometimes it’s not all about processing something and letting it go – sometimes it’s about sitting, watching and accepting. Sometimes there really is nothing we can DO, so we have to just BE.

  13. Annelie says:

    This is just what I needed to hear today! I feel so stressed about all these fabulous tools and once you start to practice them, 10 new appears that you want to try. This makes me wearing a backpack with tools that I don’t use as there always another tool around the corner. I am working on releasing all this excitement around new tools and instead letting the old ones pop up and relaxing with them, explore them instead.

  14. Melissa says:

    As I sit here without my self-help books, my meditations or my visualizations, I see that it is the little girl inside me who is running the show today. I think I use all these tools to keep myself “up” through the day without feeling my inner child’s pain.

    I’m starting to uncover all the ways I created tasks and jobs for myself when I was a young girl. I did this in order to smooth over and control my confusion and abandonment. Still to this day I am task oriented, and I get so much calm from completing my to do list. Of course, my to do list allows me to mask the pain.

    Anyway, I heard recently from a woman who had a dream where it was revealed to her that her “improving” was actually “I’m proving.” Whammo. That’s it in a nutshell for me, all my daily tools take me into proving that I’m ok. My little girl has spent her last 40 years trying to prove herself. I’m over it.

    • Erin says:

      Woah! I’m Proving.

      That pretty much said it all, sister. Thanks for sharing that Melissa. That is a keeper for sure!:)

  15. Akirah says:

    This is absolutely wonderful. Thanks so much for writing this. Self-care is really important, but it also seems like a buzzword these days. If we’re not careful, we can lose sight of what’s really important. Caring for ourselves involves focusing on what we need…not just doing fun stuff so we can ignore life or calm down for 30 minutes. Good stuff, girl!

  16. Melissa says:

    One of the self help books sitting next to my bed is Miracles Now by Gabby Bernstein. (#MiraclesNow)
    She talks about, “consciously supporting ourself at any given moment.” I think it’s vital that we support ourselves at any moment, in the moment. I think she is on to something… learning how to be self-supporting instead of self-improving. Sounds like self-acceptence.

    • Stephanie Slawek says:

      This was an awesome post to read. Thank you, Erin.

      Melissa, I love your words–“self-supporting instead of self-improving”. Brilliant!

  17. Cara Epstein says:

    Improving = I’m proving. Wow. That one really hit home for me. I have recently found that the most effective mantra for me, the one that yields the most freeing, positive results, is the mantra “I’m the worst.” Seriously. This one makes me smile, feel lighter, and frees me more than anything else. Why? I think because it gives me permission to be all of it. To own all of who I am, not just the positive, proactive, healthy parts. Not just the struggling through it with a smile parts. And not just the procrastinating, negative, lazy parts. But all of it. If I’m the worst, then there is nothing to fear. It’s all open road and possibility and everything is allowed. Most importantly, I DON’T HAVE TO PROVE ANYTHING. I’m not going to spend my time walking around trying to prove that I’m the worst. In fact, when I say it to myself in my head, “I’m the worst” I also laugh out loud. That’s right, “I’m the worst” = LOL because it is such a relief! And so obviously not true. The little voice inside me yells out gleefully, “you’re not the worst! In fact, you are often the best!” But when I walk around saying “I’m the best”, it’s stressful and that little voice inside whispers “you’re not the best. In fact, you’re often the worst.”
    It’s been a really powerful discovery for me. It also reinforces the idea that life and being are much more of a circle than a straight line. It turns out that “worst” and “best” are actually neighbors as opposed to at opposite ends of the spectrum, just like love and hate, right and wrong, and all of the other extremes. It’s also empowering to know that if I’m feeling really shitty, there’s probably joy or a breakthrough right around the corner if I’m just willing to sit with the yuck and see it through. And it helps me to not take the really good stuff for granted because this too shall pass.

  18. Rachel says:

    This was REALLY eye opening!! Thank you Erin. Wow. I don’t have the proper words yet. But that REALLY made me think. It was kind of scary where it was taking me while reading it, but … that’s why I loved it. Yikes! Thank you.

  19. Jeannie says:

    Right on target!!! We humans are funny :).

  20. brooke says:

    Hi Erin,
    This is a very interesting read… I am still mulling it over. But, here is what’s on my mind

    As I am coming into myself, I am a discovering more and more what it means to be me. To you, that might seem obvious. To me, it’s like finally waking up after a weird and uncomfortable sleep.

    And, I credit my awareness of me to my outlets. I credit it to my first FGB ( class that started my living me lifestyle. I credit it to my yoga, I credit it to my online exercise videos. And, I credit my ice cream.

    I think I know what you are trying to get at. But, right now, at the beginning stages of my journey. I haven’t learn to trust myself like that in my weakest moments.

    For example, I was in yoga tonight working on forearm stands, and I was too scared to kick up against the wall. Then my teacher showed me another way, which was a lot easier for me, and said I should just do it. I couldn’t. Until I felt her hand. Once, I got into that position, I was proud. I was releasing all my fears. Yet, I needed her there.

    One day, I want to try a new pose, and not be scared to do it the first time like what I did tonight. But, that takes practice. It takes practice trying new things to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

    This is the tool that I will pick up mindlessly when I am using my offical tools. It’s like a secret weapon that you don’t even realize that you are earning it.

    ….Maybe what I said is right, maybe it’s wrong. But, most likely I will never know. I think I am okay with that. However, I guarantee that this article will be on my mind for a while. Thanks Erin.


    • Erin says:

      I think you address an important point, Brooke. And I think it is a balance. Leaning on these tools (or supportive yoga teachers:) and then at times trusting yourself to go for it. Which might mean falling or soaring. Either is perfect.

      Thanks for sharing your insight. It’s really great.

  21. Brittney says:

    Awesome post! I thought about it multiple times throughout the day and I felt much more love. I realized that it’s okay for me to have some feelings of regret and sadness and resisting those feelings as much as I have been only gives them more power over me. I feel much better. Thank you, Erin!

  22. Trudi says:

    That was a really insightful, brave (considering your job is to give us some of these tools) and loving post. It was so wonderful to also read some of the comments especially I’m Proving! Wow to that one. I think you’re right. When I turn on hayhouse radio or an audible Wayne Dyer or Gabby Bernstein book, or I sit down to meditate or do a yoga class I breathe this sigh of relief that I’m being supported in some way and that whatever is being done to me or said to me is exactly what I need right there and as you all know it is exactly what I need. But I also feel if I just sit and edit my photographs with no audible self help or hayhouse radio or uplifting music that I am somehow wasting precious self growth time! I guess you’ve hit the nail firmly on the head here! It’s about balance. These tools are amazing and fantastic and more or less a way of life. But life still goes on when the book finishes or the yoga class stops. If we NEED these tools they are just another addiction to mask pain and fear. We are wanting to grow right and growing is vital it happens anyway but this has reminded us to grow more naturally and let life flow. To not take ANYTHING too seriously. To laugh, be with real friends, hug our family or pets, look at the birds flying above our heads and just BE.
    Namaste Erin

    • Erin says:

      Thanks so much Trudi.

      I believe we are actually most productive and the most spiritually awakened for that matter, when we are truly engaged in whatever is happening in the present moment. Whether that be we are editing photos or hanging out with friends. 🙂

  23. Jody says:

    loved it erin – thank you!

  24. Josy says:

    It is as if you read my mind. My actions … My solutions to problems are always around me but I should let the actions take the room they deserve before eliminating them. I might learn a thing or two. Thanx Erin! Great post !

  25. Jasmine says:

    I needed this right in this moment. Thank you for re-inspiring me to embrace my humanness and savor all the sensations and feelings, the light and the dark. This is compelling stuff and I will be thinking about it for days to come. You rock Erin!

  26. Heather says:

    Love this! It articulates something that had been quietly, occasionally nagging at the edges of my mind. There is a big difference between running to tools at first sign of discomfort to mask it, and sitting with the discomfort, feeling it, and maybe it goes away, or maybe you get a clear take on what is the best tool to serve the current situation. Addictive vs aware.

    Also love and relate to the I’m Proving. wow.

  27. Ann says:

    Amen, I say, amen! Many of the previous comments sum up my thoughts on the matter but I’ll reiterate. One of my biggest game-changers this year has been the humbling and disorienting discovery that most of my personal “transformation” and self-help processing, which I appreciate and am thankful for, has still been in the realm of “escape route”. I.e. “I’m uncomfortable being uncomfortable, take me to the shiny place that appears ‘better'”. I’ve grown weary over the last year of self-help highs and hypes … I know the work is amazing and my life, relationship, business wouldn’t be the way they are without all of that great work. And yet, there was still a hole, a deep, underlying persistent sadness … As I’ve learned to go into that which I’ve so desperately avoided, God has shown me insights and other routes I never imagined. I’ve also discovered His unending mercy, grace and love in the midst of that terrible, mostly self-constructed discomfort – He’s always got my back. The question is whether or not I’m willing to surrender instead of trying to save myself at the cost of my true self.

    Still in the discovery process – it’s fascinating, humbling, disorienting, fumbling, uncomfortable, heart surgery – luckily I’ve got the best Surgeon around 😉

    Thanks for putting this message into words!! You rock 🙂 xo

  28. Nadette says:

    wow Erin – YOU ARE TRULY AWESOME – what a great post – thank you!
    PS – I miss you!

    peace, love and gratitude,


  29. Aras Androck says:

    Well, I’m addicted to books. Should I stop reading altogether?

  30. Tess says:

    Thanks, Erin. This is something I had forgotten with all the tools I´m working with. The credibility of myself as I am and the feelings I´m going through almost daily. How hard can we be towards ourselves?
    Thanks, you have found your way to speak up these things. In a very human way.

  31. Sometimes you just gotta ride the wave. Wise words from a dear friend to me once not so long ago. Life is always going to contain ups and downs for every single one of us. We’re usually really good about riding to the crest of the wave. If we can just allow ourselves to ride through or slide into the trough as well, (instead of fighting it, fixing it or beating it into submission) we are met with an amazing experience
    and knowing that “it’s just a wave”. And what’s really cool is what might have felt like a deep slide into an unknown abyss suddenly becomes just a smooth dip down and then we’re riding up again. Hmmm, maybe that’s just another tool?!?! 😉

  32. Dayna says:

    I do agree to some degree, a heavy emphasis on tools removes us at points to far from reality. But I truly believe if you are making a major life change, or mindset change. You need those tools and to place the strong emphasis on them. I say this because when you are making these changes you need constant support and encouragement. Changing your mindset and beliefs is the single hardest thing a human can do, especially if it is changing your mindset from one of negativity to one of positivity. I think when you get to a point that these beliefs and core traits are engraved in the person you are, that is when it is time to take a step back and evaluate the usage or dependency on these tools. But in the beginning i say write, read, listen to audios, meditate as much as possible to remove those little words in your head saying ‘I can’t” or “this is too much work” It’s like when you are learning to walk, at first you may need your parent’s support, or maybe a toy to steady your balance. But once you are used to the feeling you begin to decrease your reliance on those support systems and live/ walk freely

  33. Camille says:

    Erin, I found this very healing. Thank you

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