Women behind self-help industry

PEOPLE’S quest for a formula to change their lives for the better has spawned the multi-billion dollar self-help industry comprising motivational and spiritual books, DVDs and audio tapes. 

As I thought more about the authors who have shaped this industry, I decided to delve deeper into its history and the women who dominated it. 

If you are an avid reader of motivational books, the obvious one that comes to mind is by Rhonda Byrne, the Australian woman behind the multi-million best-seller, The Secret

Now reported to be living just up the road from Oprah Winfrey’s estate in Los Angeles, Byrne’s central point is The Law of Attraction — that is you get what you focus on. 

Despite fierce criticism from some quarters her book was on the New York Times best seller list for several years and her sequel The Power also garnered a following, albeit not of the same magnitude.    

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

“It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us,” is a quote often erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela but actually belongs to Marianne Williamson. 

She is a leading author and teacher of personal transformation whose signature workshop, “A Course in Miracles” has an interesting story behind it.  

It is based on a book of the same title by Helen Schucman, a daunting book written in the early 1970s. 

It comprises 669 pages of text, an additional 488 pages as a workbook for beginners and to top it all off a 92-page manual for advanced readers.

The fact that it is written in biblical style in terms of language, style, numbered chapters and verses is mind boggling enough but Schucman wrote it using a process of “inner dictation.” 

That is she didn’t have to think about the words, they just came to her at different intervals throughout the years and she dictated them to her fellow scientist William Thetford. 

I must confess I have had a copy in my possession for three years now and doubt if I will ever tackle it.

“Staying the same leaves you prone to a certain probable future along the lines of a certain undesirable present” are the words of my all-time favourite Jane Roberts.

Little known now, her books, written in the 1970’s inspired those of famous ones such as Louise Hay and Deepak Chopra.

What is even more controversial about Ms Roberts was not so much what she wrote about but how she wrote her books. 

A few evenings a week she would go into a trance state and dictate words which her husband wrote down verbatim, with exact notation of the time, pauses and accompanying notes to the dictation. 

The energy she tapped into identified himself as Seth and is noted as co-author. 

Now you will agree that in itself was bound to draw strong reactions from many people but there were many others who found the information life-changing. 

If one is able to get over the source of the material, there are some interesting insights which shed light into how we are supposed to create our own reality. 

Firstly, our beliefs shape our lives and all our decisions and choices follow a certain pattern based on our beliefs. 

Apparently this explains how psychics can predict one’s future and also how a prediction can fail to materialise. 

Therefore until we change our beliefs, there is a certain probable path that one’s life will follow. 

Secondly, “the point of power is in the present”, something which most people find hard to practice. 

Thinking about the past or worrying about the future is a common practice, and yet we often fail to appreciate the present moment, where those fears are actually not reality. 

Finally she advocates, expanding how we define ourselves and to list anything that we even remotely wish we could accomplish and then do one thing every day towards bringing that dream into reality. 

I have tried these guidelines and I must say the results are encouraging. 


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