Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

There has been so much hype around this book and movie that I could not help myself when I saw a copy of the book at one of my local library book sales for only $1.00. I picked it up thinking that it was going to be a great book; however, when I actually opened it, I was immediately VERY skeptical!! What turned me off so instantly? The Table of Contents!! The Secret is discussed and explained in the first few chapters, but then it is applied to different aspects of one's life in the later chapters . . . relationships, health, money, life, etc. The one that is mentioned first is money! Yes, this is what turned me off!! Since when is money more important that it has to be discussed before relationships, life, and health? Not a great way to start off with a book and I will admit that this initial skepticism is what took me so long to get through this book! I immediately did not like the focus of the book or the direction it was taking before I even began to read it!

Coming from a pretty extensive background in the field of psychology (counseling psychology to be exact), I become very frustrated with many aspects of the book and do not want my review to be completely negative about this book. Afterall, there were some good pieces of information within it. I will go ahead and start out with a list of these positive bits and then go on to my personal criticisms. **Spoiler Alert** I will be discussing many of the details of the book from here on out! Continue reading at your discretion!! :)
  • The process of visualization was given a special section in the book under "Powerful Processes." Visualization can be a very powerful tool! I do not deny this and encourage it in many, whether it is in setting goals, making decisions, or even using it as a mnemonic.
  • Quoting from the book on page 119 . . . "Unless you fill yourself up first, you have nothing to give anybody. Therefore it is imperative that you tend to You first." I wholeheartedly agree with this comment!! You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anything else! If you are not at the top of your game, then nothing that you do will be either. For example, when parenting you need to take care of yourself, even beyond the basics of feeding, sleeping, etc. in order to be the best parent you can be. Never forget to take "mom-time" or "dad-time" away from the kids and with each other. You will be a better parent when all is said and done when this balance exists!
  • Lastly, I will agree that stress does create health issues in many individuals. Sometimes there is no physical link to symptoms that an individual is experiencing. It may very well be your own subconscious holding you back and making you sick! I know that I personally will experience more headaches and stomach issues when I am under a lot of stress. I do not have an ulcer or a brain tumor!! It is all brought on by my tendency to internalize my stress!! It's all psychosomatic!!

Now, on to my criticisms . . . please bare with me through these!!

  • First and foremost, The Secret in and of itself is truly no secret!! This big secret, this law of attraction that is discussed throughout the whole book is something that has been around and being practiced by those in the field of psychology for some time under the term of cognitive therapy! To put it simply . . . under the school of thought in cognitive therapy, individuals have irrational thoughts and individuals must change their thoughts to be more productive. I find it very interesting that of all the contributors in this book not one of them is a psychologist or psychiatrist!!
  • Within the book, it is stated that thoughts cause feelings. Is this actually true? I am far from an expert in this area, but from what I remember from my training, scientists are still debating about what causes what! Do thoughts cause feelings? Or, do feelings cause thoughts? Or, do they happen simultaneously? It truly is just another chicken and egg dilemma of what comes first!! We simply do not know!
  • Let's now look at the creative process of using The Secret . . . Ask, Believe, Receive. Ask: Does everyone really know what they want? Have you ever thought you wanted one thing, but in the end it resulted in something different from your initial thoughts? What about those individuals dealing with addictions? Do they not just want more and more of their substance, whether it may be alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.? Is this what they truly want -- to be dependent on their substance of choice, sometimes again and again and again? Probably not! Believe: It truly is easier said than done! What about an individual that has been traumatized or has low self-esteem? Believing may be much more difficult for them! I am also very skeptical about the 'how' not being our concern. I have worked with many individuals on goal-setting. In order to reach a goal, you have to have a plan!! Is that not the how and of utmost concern? Do you not need to know how to reach a goal before you can reach it? Would you not want to visualize each of these steps instead of the end goal? It seems to me that without the how, one can become even more frustrated! Receive: I am going to use an extreme example here and hope that it gets my point across . . . let's look at those people who lost their lives in the World Trade Center, Oklahoma City, or on a smaller scale, someone who lost their life or was severely injured by a drunk driver . . . are you telling me that they asked for this? That they received what they asked for? I don't think so!
  • Let's look at another quote found on page 100 . . . "The shortcut to anything you want in life is to BE and FEEL happy now!" Really, much easier said than done!
  • Finally, are you telling me that all those people who have lost their lives to cancer, heart problems, AIDS, etc. could have simply saved themselves by truly thinking and feeling that they would heal? That these health issues would simply go away? Yes, there are stories that support this, but ultimately there are many that do not. For those who did lose this battle, were they asking for this end? Once again, I don't think so!

Basically, to sum it up . . . life is much more complicated than The Secret makes it sound! There is more to life than money and just thinking what we want. Ultimately, we can make a difference in our lives by thinking more positively, by not "sweating the small stuff", but there are things outside of ourselves that do not always work with our plans. If you are looking for a self-help book, something to motivate you, I would highly recommend AGAINST this book! It's just too simple and far from realistic in my opinion! Read something else . . . like Man's Search for Meaning . . . that is more true to life and more inspiring than The Secret by far!

1 comment:

  1. You know what this sounds like? It sounds like any spiel from an MLM. You go to these "seminars" and they tell you all this crap about visualizing yourself rich and whatever. I've been to one or two and always roll my eyes about 10 minutes into it when I realize that they're not ever actually going to tell you any nitty-gritty how-it's-done type things. They're just going to give you their life story and the "hey look at how rich I am, you can be too if you think like me" line. I'm glad I never wasted my time on this book!


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