You walk by a shop inside of an airport and catch sight of a book, which, according to its cover, is filled with helpful ideas on how you may improve yourself, be more attractive to other people, feel comfortable in your own skin. Authors of these types of books assume your fruits spoiled, your waters infected with mercury. You’ve always been aware of some annoying aspects of your personality preventing you from looking yourself in the mirror with an honest smile, or from being in the company of friends while spared from intolerable anxiety. In other words, you’ve always been reasonably self-conscious. A good quality…but nonetheless a quality easily played with and used for economic purposes by the types of authors I’m describing.
The tug-of-war between this helpful book and this intolerable inner problem of yours is…unwinnable. The image of You minus your bad apples is too bright to ignore. To make matters worse, you can’t make the distinction between those annoying aspects of your personality and the rest of you. The best characteristics of your personality sleep under the storm cloud of those irksome problems of yours – your frustrations, regrets, worries, knee-jerk reactions, biases and lazy habits of mind. Is not the vocal minority always the loudest? Many authors of self-help books have made lucrative careers out of this fundamental of bad psychological calculus: man is convinced he’s arrived at the sum of himself after adding up only his bad apples.