It is illogical to talk negatively about an industry founded on developing a positive mindset. Especially if you’ve been part of it for over 20 years. There are, however, major limitations, pitfalls and even dangerous aspects of the personal development (PD) industry. Many of these limitations are innocuous and merely a waste of time and money. Other trends are more insidious, even dangerous. As the life enhancement industry approaches 12 billion dollars, it is time to become aware of its shortcomings. I offer these insights as food for thought. While discussing “the seminar trap,” it is important to understand the inner workings of the human brain, as well as the essential concept of activation vs. installation.
The Challenge of the Human Condition
This may seem a bit unusual, but it is extremely important that you understand how your brain works to truly understand the pitfalls of the PD seminar trap. It is abundantly clear that life can be difficult and discouraging; life’s inevitable challenges drive the PD industry. Most personal difficulties are rooted in a biological glitch called negativity bias. Negativity bias developed in the dangerous environments of our distant ancestors. Back then, it was always better to be safe than sorry. Survival was dependent on a constant scan for threats and calculating worst case scenarios. Contemporary society has eliminated most of these risks, making this evolutionary survival feature a bug in the operating system of our modern minds.
Your brain was designed for safety and survival, not happiness. Your neurochemical pathways care very little if you are happy. Emotions are your survival mechanism. They were engineered to help you make split-second life and death decisions. Fear and anxiety come over us immediately and uncontrollably, giving us very little agency when it comes to our emotions.