Evangelical Freak Show
My work has me travelling a few days a week. Most of my clients live about two hours drive away, so on a usual visit day I can be sat in the car for a minimum of four hours. Recently I have indulged in Audible books, I can get through a couple a week at the moment. I have also been partial to YouTube offerings.I started with Deepak Chopra and Tosha Silver and moved on to Tony Robbins. As part of my interest with his philosophies and teachings I started to delve deeper into finding out who he was. I registered with his website and started contemplating his seminar Unleash the Power Within, which comes to London in March 2018. A starting price of £899 a ticket plus the costs of staying a few nights in London, it was a venture that I needed to consider carefully, and I was, but then I watched the documentary “I am not your Guru” and I backed off at 100mph.
I love Tony and I think that his charisma and big personality together with his apparent love of people is a force to be reckoned with. I used to believe that he has a lot to offer to the world and his outlook on life is beneficial to everyone on some level, but here was the catch for me, his seminars are no different to Joyce Meyers and all the other Evangelicals preaching the same solutions to your earthly woes.
As I watched the documentary unfold I felt a distinct level of discomfort. The tactics used at the seminars, the atmospheric and carefully chosen soundtracks, the jumping around and bright lights, the gratefulness practice at the end where members of his team ‘lay hands’ on you were so was reminiscent of an Evangelical church it was frightening. Days and days in this atmosphere of motivational soup is bound to influence even the most stoic of unbelievers. Its tantamount to brainwashing on a different scale. Although to be fair, you’re already a believer if you are there.
The reason I have an issue with the teachings of these people is that they can leave you feeling lost and alone when things don’t pan out the way they are supposed to. The belief systems rooted in positive thinking, much like the manifestation teachings of books such as The Secret, would lead you to believe that all you have to do is think yourself wealthy and successful. The trouble with this is that when it doesn’t happen you are told that you must not be believing with enough conviction, or that your mindset somewhere is not quite right. This leads you into a cul-de-sac of failure and feelings of inadequacy. When you are told that you can be a millionaire and it’s just about the right mindset, you are bound to question yourself when you don’t get there.
The second issue I have is that these teachings lean towards your ego self or your small self. You are striving for something which is driven by your wishes and not necessarily what is best for you. This is where I like to take a more stoic approach to life and allow what needs to happen, happen. That is not to say that I am passive, not by any stretch, as a type A personality passivity is not something which sits well. However, over the years I have also learned that full throttle, balls out pursuance of goals can leave you frazzled, fraught and frustrated if every door is slamming.
I fully endorse that your happiness in life is down to you and your mindset. I fully accept that how you think and act in this world leads to your contentment with life and your success. Tony is adamant that he is not a ‘positive thinking’ teacher and hates that he is labelled that way. However, there is a very subtle distinction between his teachings, his use of NLP language and the positive thinking teachings. To my mind the distinction is blurred. The behemoth which is the Joyce Meyers ministries and the Tony Robbins life coaching makes these guys millions and millions a year. What they do with all that wealth is magnanimous and I cannot deride them for the work they support and the positive impact they have on peoples lives. I can however say that take each of them on their merits and with a little pinch of salt. Anyone who sets themselves up to be a teacher with all the answers is not truthful. No-one has all the answers. And whilst their teachings are rooted in solid psychological and sometime physiological disciplines, I find some of the methods used in their conferences deceitful and quite frankly frightening. To understand the human psyche so well as to manipulate it at a level where people buy into the whole ‘feel good’ factor without realising that they are being manipulated disturbs me. If you aren’t seen to be jumping around when told to, or hugging your neighbour when told to, then you will almost be labelled as a failure from the start. This causes people to conform as no-one wants to be labelled as un-co-operative especially when you have paid good money to learn. I remember those feelings at church. If you don’t raise your hands in praise or “speak in tongues” then you are not as good a christian as your neighbour, ergo, you must conform to be accepted. I suspect this is what turned my stomach with the Robbins documentary, I’ve been in that atmosphere, I know what the expectation is, I understand the format and it quite frankly gives me the willies!
So I will not be partaking of the seminar, and I know Tony would probably respond that it is not right for me with my current mindset anyway. I would agree, but for a totally different reason. I have been reading more books recently and there is a strong link between sociopathic personalities and these types of self-styled gurus. In fact I am not the only one asking questions. If it doesn’t feel right, then in my experience it generally isn’t and Mr TR lost his shine through the revelations in that documentary, perhaps he didn’t realise what he revealed but it was glaringly obvious to me.