If they’re helping people, does it really matter if they don’t practice what they preach?
I was forwarded an email this morning from a friend of mine who was excited to share a daily email of self-help/spiritual inspiration that he gets. The second I opened it, I had an immediate gag reflex. You see, not only have I encountered the creator of this site/email/blog, but also I have worked closely with one of the highlighted people he was touting as being a beacon of light in the self-help world. In my encounters and my friends’ encounters with both of these people, neither of them behaved with dignity, and neither of them treated people the way they tell others to treat people. I have never once personally seen either of them take responsibility for causing anyone pain or suffering, or take responsibility for their mistakes. It is always someone else’s fault. Neither of them acts or lives the way they are preaching. And both are loved and adored and are wildly successful in the self-help world.
It makes me angry: here are these people who are claiming one thing that thousands and thousands of people are buying, making lots of money off it, getting notoriety and respect, yet are not living that way. Every time someone in the self help world that I know personally makes a comment on Twitter or Facebook or a blog post totally condemning something that I have seen them do themselves, it sets me off. They’re lying… Mostly to themselves, and of course to all of their followers. And I still want to puke anytime someone brings up the name of a guy from the self-empowerment world that I went out with a few times. He was living on the dark side to such an extent that I hung around waiting for the big reveal… Waiting for him to explain he was only living that way as a test or a lesson or… something. But he wasn’t. He really was living on the dark side. But he is brilliant. And his brilliance has helped thousands of people. So does it really even matter how he behaves in his personal life, if he is helping so many in his public life?
We look to these people in our times of despair and confusion; we look to them seeking guidance, inspiration, and purpose. Yet, they are completely putting on acts. And yes, I know they are also just people, on their own path with their own issues and journey. I know they’re human, however, I’d say the majority of self-help and spiritual teachers own their humanness, own their flaws, know they make mistakes, and share their journey with us. Those are the kinds of self-help and spiritual teachers I want to learn from and study… The ones that take responsibility for their lives and mistakes, that share their process of transformation with us. I want to make it clear that those are not the people I’m talking about in this post.
However, I also need to take responsibility for my own harsh judgment of these others. Why does it bother me so much? On one hand, I feel very betrayed. These people put on great shows, pretending to be one thing but really being another. These people are incredibly smart businessmen, putting the value of the dollar and the value of their own soul over others’. But should it even matter what the motive or truth is if they are really helping people? And they ARE helping people.
On the other hand, is it possible that this sets me off because it makes me take a look at myself? I aim to empower people through my work. Yet, I look in the mirror and don’t always talk to myself so nicely. I look in the mirror and sometimes tell myself that my thighs are getting fat, and that the extra skin under my armpits is ugly. I write articles of empowerment and inspiration but I spend many a day and night beating myself up for not being more, beating myself up for being a failure, feeling that there’s something really wrong with me. Does the fact that these people seem like frauds to me only just mirror the fact that I feel that I’m a fraud too?
I know that everyone has his or her own journey, and this is theirs. I don’t know what their paths in this life are; I don’t know what they came here to learn… And I truly believe that these people started off with good intentions. In fact, they probably still have good intentions. It’s just that the ego has taken over, and what they have turned into, I guess, isn’t my place to judge. (Even though I have been doing so for most of this article. Hmm… Guess I should stop!) And they do help people. So, then, why should it matter to me that they don’t practice what they preach? I have days when I don’t practice what I preach… I bet we all do.
From now on, when I find myself harshly judging these others for being frauds, I’m going to turn around and ask myself where I’m being a fraud in my own life.
In addition to being a writer, Holly teaches weekly intenSati fitness classes in Los Angeles (think aerobics amped up with yelled positive affirmations and fat-busting, calorie-burning moves), and Reiki Healing classes for Weight Loss, to Health Professionals, and to other Healers. She is a Certified Reiki Master Healer, Certified Natural Health Professional, and Certified Fitness Teacher who opened a healing practice, Couture for the Soul, in Santa Monica, CA in 2006. There she worked with individuals with cancer, as well as those suffering from all types of physical and emotional ailments. She now focuses on sharing the tools, energy, and inspiration for personal empowerment through writing and teaching. www.hollysidell.com