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"Your Psychological Advice Is Of No Use! .." - Self-development, Society
"Your Psychological Advice Is Of No Use! .." - Self-development, Society

Video: "Your Psychological Advice Is Of No Use! .." - Self-development, Society

Video: "Your Psychological Advice Is Of No Use! .." - Self-development, Society
Video: The Dark Side of Self Improvement | Suzanne Eder | TEDxWilmington 2023, December

It is quite risky to discuss the topic in the title on the resource, where most of the publications are psychological advice and recommendations. But let's try it anyway … The modern reader likes notes to be without water, more specifically, something like “three ways to become happy”, “five psychological tips for getting rid of depression”, “four steps to a new relationship”, etc. …

The pursuit of simple and clear recommendations is partly driven by information overload and partly by laziness. Why think, understand, delve into yourself, if you can just act according to a given algorithm? I want something clear and simple: “Press the button - you will get the result!.

Maybe this is not laziness, but the cost of progress. Most bodily illnesses are caused by poor lifestyle choices. It would seem that everything is simple: if you want to live long and without ailments - lead a healthy lifestyle, and everything will be fine. But leading a correct lifestyle is difficult and boring! Much easier to swallow a pill (without thinking about the possible side effects) and live as we are used to.

Doctor, give a psychological pill

The same pill-like logic works for psychological advice. For example, a person is stuck in a bad mood for several days, and immediately diagnoses himself: “I have depression! . Then he runs to a psychologist with a request to prescribe a pill. And when he finds out that a psychologist is not a doctor, and he does not prescribe pills, then he asks to recommend something similar to pills. For example, some magical way to quickly and easily improve your mood. This is essentially a request for specific advice. With the hope that the specialist will suggest the “best remedy” that will definitely help.

Should a psychologist give specific advice?

Almost all modern books on popular psychology are collections of psychological advice. Sometimes these tips are scattered, sometimes they are combined into educational programs, author's trainings. But in any case, these are rigid algorithms in the style of "do one, then do two … and you will have a solution to problems / happiness / success."

If books on pop psychology come out and are sold in thousands of copies, then the tips outlined in them really help ?

The most popular psychologists in the media (on television talk shows, on YouTube, on Instagram), gathering thousands of audiences, also give advice. Usually these are some “rules of a happy life”, formulated in the form of short recommendations, of which there are no more than a dozen. These recommendations themselves are simple and obvious (“I thought so myself, only here it is better formulated”), therefore, they are perceived without criticism.

But uncritical perception is suggestion (suggestion), and this is a direct path for manipulation and abuse. Almost all modern methods of brainwashing (propaganda, destructive cults, etc.) are based on gullible assimilation of "simple truths" and behavioral rules.

That is why it is extremely difficult to understand: we have a really competent professional psychologist (forced to give specific recommendations in the media, because these are the requirements of the format) or another “teacher of life”, in addition to the uttered “great truths”, who does not have deep knowledge and is not restrained by professional ethics …

Does their advice help?

And again the question arises: if popular psychologists gather thousands of audiences, then their advice really helps ?!

Let's try to answer this question with a specific example. Here are the "three rules of life":

  1. Be selective about everything in your life. The conscious decision about what exactly falls into the field of your attention is entirely up to you.
  2. Reflect on the events in your life. Endow what happens to you / is happening with the meaning and meaning that will be useful and favorable for you.
  3. On the basis of items 1 and 2, act - take further actions consciously and purposefully.

How do you like these tips?

In general, everything is quite commonplace; you've probably heard something like this before, something like:

  • 1) Notice only the bright sides of life.
  • 2) Find positive in everything.
  • 3) Act not impulsively, but rationally.

The advice looks familiar, safe, and generally correct.

And now I'll open the cards and say that the author of these psychological advice is the American life coach Anthony Robbins (a note about the "three solutions" was published in 2016 in the online magazine Enterpreneur). I will not evaluate Robbins' activities, I will just remind readers that his performance in Moscow in September 2019 at the Olimpiyskiy caused very controversial responses.

Robbins fans find his teachings extremely vital and useful. At the same time, opponents point out that there is a simple marketing ploy behind simple tips like the "three solutions". First, you need to feed your audience a few self-explanatory recommendations that will help build trust. Further, on the basis of the generated trust, you can already sell them a multi-stage author's program, where you will have to pay for each stage separately. Such activities can be classified as a commercial sect, where personal growth, self-development, etc. are used as a plausible excuse to siphon off funds from adepts.

Unfortunately, the activity of this kind of "guru" is not regulated in any way in our country. But no one bothers to use critical thinking and evaluate the quality of the psychological advice itself

Robbins' first "tip"

Take, for example, the first recommendation to be selective.

An elementary psychological truth is that we already perceive everything selectively. We are not robots, and we are not able to perceive the world around us dispassionately. By default, our perception contains an emotionally motivational component. What and how we perceive is influenced by current needs, past experience, social attitudes, roles, stereotypes and much more.

Obviously, Robbins' advice, at the very least, is not precisely formulated. The implication is that we should consciously control our filters of perception, using, for example, more positive attitudes, through the prism of which we choose what should (or should not) pay our attention to. But what kind of "positive attitudes" do we need ?!

If the answer to this question is too general, it will be of little use. For example, one might say that one should take everything optimistically.

But optimism can be toxic and easily turns into a lie to oneself and a denial of reality. Obviously, the attitudes that we lack for a more correct perception of life are individual. But this advice (take everything selectively) just does not say anything concrete about how exactly to find / form this individual selectivity in yourself!

Robbins' second "tip"

Similarly, the second recommendation to interpret everything that happened to us from the “right angle” does not stand up to any criticism; find a positive meaning in everything. On the whole, the idea is correct: we cannot change any unfavorable events in the past, but we can overestimate and rethink, survive and let them go.

The only problem is that if it were easy and simple to do, then psychologists and psychotherapists would be out of work overnight. People turn to a psychologist because they find themselves in semantic dead ends.

For example, intellectually they understand that a child's grudge against parents needs to be forgiven, but they cannot find sufficient reason to just take it and do it. Negative emotions perfectly neutralize the search for meaning, confusing and looping our minds' attempts to arrive at a new, more positive understanding. To open this vicious circle, you need an outside perspective and "inoculation of a new meaning", which can only be obtained in a dialogue with a psychotherapist.

So should a psychologist give advice?

Returning to the question of whether a psychologist should give advice … Based on the above, no. Ready-made advice too often misses the mark: even if they seem absolutely logical and correct, they do not in any way take into account the individual characteristics of the addressee, the details of his life situation and the uniqueness of his problem, even if it seems typical.

Ready advice assumes one-way communication (one person gives advice, another accepts).

Any one-way communication increases the risk of misunderstanding. One-way communication is directive: the one who gives advice, as it were, has such a right and a higher status. But people really change only in an equal partnership dialogue, which is usually what work with a professional psychologist is. And recommendations from above can cause internal resistance and rejection.

The real rule of psychologists

There is a general rule: a professional psychologist does not give ready-made psychological advice and does not suggest a direct solution to the problem - he helps to formulate questions, answering which the client can see himself and his problem from a new side. The psychologist suggests new ways of self-investigation, using which, a person independently finds a solution to his problem. In other words, he gives himself the best advice!

A specialist can slightly correct and clarify the chosen solution, but the person must find it himself

In conclusion … In fairness, I must say that there are exceptions. Expert advice in the form of specific solutions or behavioral instructions can be given, for example, to people with low levels of self-exploration ability or children. But even in this case, the psychologist usually offers several alternatives to choose from; the recommendations are not given in the form of directives, but are necessarily discussed and agreed with the client.

In addition, ready-made psychological advice (say, from books on pop psychology) can be quite effective for people who already have experience of successful work on themselves and have already managed to cope with their problems on their own.

In any case, psychological advice should be handled carefully, critically interpreted and adapted to your life situation

And also remember that no even the most wonderful advice can be compared in terms of effectiveness with cooperation with a professional psychologist.