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Response: Stars before the eyes

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


The post is a review of the book 'CONFIDENCE: HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS AND ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS' by Martin Meadows. It was an obvious choice as I have collected two books by Martin Meadows which are free of cost. I have already written a post on his earlier 'How to Think Bigger' under the title 'All Free Books are not a Stupid Act or Marketing Gimmick'. I have also collected another free book directly from the author titled 'Grit: How to keep going when you want to give up'. It is in a pdf format. I have not located this book on Amazon portal.

The book contains five chapters and an epilogue. It is spread over 73 pages. One can quickly read this book in less than two hours. The language is smooth and straightforward as it is in case of the earlier book by the same author titled as "How to Think Bigger". There are many references given as endnotes.

The book begins with a chapter on Self-Efficacy. If you have not read or listened about this term, which is probably not in the dictionary which I am using, then you may resolve the issue by accepting that it is the word coined by the author. The second way out is that you replace it with your own preconceived term which is The Self. However, he has not talked about the term Confidence. 

The writer has explained the term by giving some features of the Self Efficacy.

While reading the reviews on the book on the Amazon portal, I located a reviewer who has given five stars. He was highly impressed by his summary subsection to each of the chapters. Now, those who have read titles on a similar topic that is Self Help or Self Improvement books, they might have found that this is a standard feature among such writers. 

Chapter 2 titled The Experience of Mastery.
This chapter is incomplete. The author has not given the complete list of the steps of suggestions to reduce weight. He may be suggesting a thing. He expects that the reader may visualise it. He provides 5 steps. Then, he wrote the 10th stage. Four levels are missing. Did he forget to write it? Had he left it to write it later but did not remember to complete the list before publishing the book?

I have found an impressive way of telling a thing in his writings. In chapter 2, section on Rejection Therapy, he tries to emphasise a rule of that therapy. He states the first practice. Then in the second rule writes that there are no further rules. This is quite an efficient way to emphasise a point.

However, an issue arises on the topic of Rejection Therapy. It also raises questions about the efficacy and utility of the self-help books. They are suggestions. They may work for you or they may not. The author may be good at writing an essay, but he may not be an expert in a particular field. I raise this question to myself, Why do I read Self Help Books?

Are they really worth the time spend on it?

How far can it be stated with a responsibility that the talks are approved by the scientific fraternity?

Can a Self Help Book replace the work of a qualified psychologist?

Do we have to seek the help of others for doing experiments with the Self to bring changes to it?

Comment on Chapter 4.

I am excluding chapter 3 which is social modelling. For me, the idea is a creation of the writer. I support the argument which the author gives but I am not assured of the choice of the title as Social Modelling. It has forced me to rethink the term 'Social'.

In chapter 4, he has talked on the issue of "Social Persuasion and Psychological Responses". The contents are simple and straightforward. However, with every line, I was reminded about the messages provided by the Vedantists. I was specifically reminded of the writings of Swami Vivekananda. It again brings in the issue of relating everything to research, scientific observations, the issue of the real meaning of being scientific and how far all these things relates to the Self. The self-help books are mainly advice. It may work for you or it may not. You may be receptive or not. In the same chapter, there is a subsection titled "Find a Mentor". Why did he try to say that? Look out for a Guru and some underlying philosophy. Is it not that? That is where this raga of being scientific and research-based claims fail to make the impact. It is the interpretation which matters. The analysis requires some guiding philosophy or a priori. Here, the mumbo jumbo of being scientific and research-based narrative collapses.

However, in this section, the writer comes out with his own solution. Many people will find it a practical suggestion.

“Yeah, the man talks sense.”
I hear this growling sound coming back from past when someone had read his book up to that point.

For me, that is merely a materialistic approach to a life devoid of morality and ethics. I now listen to the disapproving and disparaging sounds. Such responses are equally welcomed, but I write what I wish to write.

In the same chapter 4, he has talked about the psychological responses. Surprisingly, he is not referring to any research-based finding there. He is instead directing the attention of the readers to his other manuals.

In the summary of chapter 4, he gives a different direction to his narrative. He has dealt with the problem of some negative psychological. He has given a very pragmatic solution for that. However, in his summary, he has provided the core point in a manner that some readers may like to have more elaboration on that. I doubt if qualified psychologists will approve his observations on this issue.

The Chapter 5.

The writer gives great importance to this chapter. He has called it the actual and independent part of his book. In other words, he has presented it as the only chapter which is meant to be followed. The preceding sections were merely the build-up to this chapter. This is what he made it out while introducing chapter.

Let me emphasise that in this chapter I have come across a thing about which I did not know earlier. I did not have even a smallest possible glimpse. I believe that there is a reason that in the very opening lines of this chapter, the writer has confidently confined it to his readers that it is the penultimate chapter. Here is the reason.

The Writer introduces the use of the software for mind mapping.

I did not know about it. I explored this software which is registered in Hongkong.

However, it repeats the issue about the most efficacious method to deal with the Self. I believe that the best practice is to deal inside. If you keep on going out for finding solutions, then, it will end up in a vicious circle of seeking a solution outside. You get elated to see it. But soon you get a new problem and get stuck there. You again move out and then seek further. It is actually inside you. Get inside and find a solution there.

I accept I use software to correct my spelling and grammar. But, it is a minor problem. It is small assistance. Gradually, I use such resources only to see alternatives. My actual skills of developing narrative are inside me. Secondly, these outside aids do not have an answer for every related problem. The grammar software will splash instruction to change the style of a sentence from Passive voice to Active voice. It is you who have to decide that if it is required or not. The Grammar Software works on AI. You may not find a narrative as corrected by the Grammar software for your type of an audience. It is your understanding and skill which matters. The outside help can be assistance but not a remedy. For Self improvement, the target is to improve the Self. The outside help is one solution. But, if such answers add up to a horde of assistants, then you become their slave. Go to a barber for a haircut. Got to a tailor for stitching. Go to a dress designer for selection of the dress. Go to the nutritionist for designing your diet plan. Go to Nursery Gardner for raising your garden. Go to the interior designer for arranging your house. Go to yoga expert to learn the right way of breathing. That is no guidance for self-improvement.

The Epilogue is of a general nature. It has the tone of the humility which generally the author display about the utility of their book nurturing a wish that their book will positively be received by some discerning readers and rest of the lot is a bunch of fools.

Concluding Remarks:
I may have given some negative remarks. I write what I want to write. Those observations are not about the quality of the content in specific. Those views are about the narrative which is generally found in our day to day talks. In non-fiction literature, we deal with such issues which are of highly significant nature, but we never understand them. However, we develop a narrative without caring to know the direction in which those narratives are carrying us. They are generally directing us to the dead ends. Then, such narratives are mixed with the spice mixture of scientific and research-based talks, and the attempt is made to make sense out of them. I am trying to address that issue. As far as the writer is concerned, he has definitely done a great job. His book will definitely work for many readers.

People like me, who read and then write as per their own whims are influenced by numerous sets of thought sets, theories and philosophies. We evaluate a piece of work from many angles. Therefore, the contents of our review may look like negative criticism. But, they are not adverse criticisms. They are intentional bashing of the material to squeeze more out of it and add a dimension to it. If the core of stream of the logic underlying the comments is touched, then it can be appreciated. However, in simpler terms, one can go through this book. It is not bad to acquire this book when it is free. It contains only 70 pages. It can be read in less than two hours with a little bit of musing where you find this book touching some chord in you or communicating something that is required by you.

Push the Buy Button. It is free. It is worth spending some time on it. At least, I have found it interesting.

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