Look at This!

I’m a pretty upbeat person.

No, really, I am! I believe in positive thinking, in realizing your dreams, in doing whatever it takes for any of us to make our lives the most wonderful and fulfilling as they can be. I believe doing what I can to support other people in their efforts.

But I just hate inspirational shit.

You know what I mean. The kind of thing some determinedly cheerful person would slap on the photo above that’s meant to draw our attention to beauty and joy and the angels singing.

No no no.

This is possibly tied up with my issues about being nice. I’ve just never been very good at it. At the same time, lately people have been telling me how helpful I’ve been to them. I can see that, because sometimes being helpful means that you can’t be nice. The Taoists say that you have to be very careful about helping people because it’s difficult to know what people really need. Sometimes people need something really terrible to happen to wake them up to their real dreams. Like the proverbial story of the business man who ignores all but his career until the devastating event, after which he quits his job, sells everything and becomes a painter.

None of us wants to be the devastating event. Fortunately the universe generally takes care of that.

So, most people resort to the cheerleader method of helping. The rah rah, you can do it! variety of helping. It’s innocuous. You can’t really lead anyone astray doing that, not like saying “you should really quit your job, sell everything and become a painter.” We all love hearing our supporters cheer us on and it feels good to cheer for other people. It’s all good until someone decides to start making money off it.

This is where the life-coach types come in.

Yeah, the life-coach types bug me like inspirational posters bug me. And lately they’re infiltrating twitter. It’s like a termite invasion, where first you see one, then two, then the walls are covered with them.

Clearly someone pointed out to the life-coach types that twitter is a great place to market themselves. They can post pithy 140-character inspirational sayings (along with a link to their site). They can RT each other and convince us we need them. There’s more of them, too, as people seek careers that will bring income without being dependent on a corporate structure.

What bugs me most – and obviously I have issues here – is that they use command language. Think about this! Be happy and productive! Where you or I might slap the gorgeous sunset pic on twitter and say “gorgeous sunset in Santa Fe last night” they’ll say, Look up more often! See what you are missing??

Oh yeah, I unfollow them. But then people I do follow retweet them, because they think it’s just a happy, positive thing.

It should be a happy, positive thing, but somehow it’s not. It smacks of intrusiveness to me. Of manipulation. At worst, of playing god in other people’s lives. Nobody else can “coach” us into following the path we need to follow. That’s part of the deal: we have to find it for ourselves.

The best we can do is give other people help when they ask for it.

And cheering. Lots of cheering.

12 Replies to “Look at This!”

  1. Yeah, I'm not terribly nice either. Ask anyone I'm close to. Oh sure, to outsiders, I wear the mask of "nice", but that's mostly so I don't get restraining orders put on me by co-workers.

    I couldn't have a life-coach or whatever they are because I hate being told what to do. I'm more likely to do the exact opposite of what I'm being told just to show them that I can. What can I say? It's a personality quirk.

    By the way, when I first saw that pictures, I wondered why you were in my neighborhood this morning. That's exactly what sunrise looked over my home. It was glorious. That's all I need to see, a picture without caption and I feel uplifted. So thanks 🙂

  2. How funny, Danica – maybe the sun and sky held those colors all night until they worked around to coming up on your end of the country again?

    But I think that's a big part of it: we don't need to be told how to be uplifted. To have someone else instruct us implies that we have no sense of our own. Hardly a good thing.

  3. Ugh. I'm in total accord on the Twitter life-coach invasion. Their little 140-character "uplifting" tweets are self-serving and phony. No thanks.

  4. LOL, I know exactly what you mean (and maybe WHO you mean) re: the life coach types. I throw up a little in my mouth every time I see it.

    Tawna

  5. I'm glad it's not just me, Linda and Tawna! The taste of bile… I suppose that's at the heart of my displeasure – the self-serving phoniness.

  6. I have lost count of the number of "life coaches" that have followed me on Twitter. What exactly IS a life coach, and why do they think I need their services? I used to overanalyze it. It really bothered me. Now I just ignore it.

    I wish you could hide people's updates from your Twitter stream the way you can your Facebook wall…

  7. That's right, Elizabeth – it was our convo on twitter that got me really thinking about this. You mention something about a normal struggle of motherhood, and the vultures come out tweeting on how they can help you.

    I think our only option is lists, if we don't want to take the step of unfollowing. Anyone else have suggestions?

  8. Bah. Life coaches bug me. They should coach their own lives and get off mine. But honestly, I think they sort of feed off the fear that there's *more* out there. That I could just have it all if I put on a smile and somehow manage to juggle every little thing perfectly.

    I suppose there *are* people out there like that. Incessantly perky. Helpful and cheerful and full of saccharine sweetness and light.

    It's not me though. I doubt it ever will be.

  9. Mynfel – I think that's another factor, that the life coaches often seem to need more help than we do! "Incessantly Perky" would be a great blog title.

    Keena – LOVE despair.com. Those people are my tribe. ~hands Keena another cup of coffee~

  10. despair.com is great! My husband also makes his own demotivational posters. Some of them have been hysterical. I'll have to dig them up and share…

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