Why "The Answer Lies within You" & "You are enough" are the biggest lies, myths, and total sack of new age BS that is causing you untold damage, unhappiness, discontent, and suffering in your life and what the real, liberating truth actually is
Do you believe that the answer to all your problems lies within you? Have you ever seen some "motivational" meme on the internet saying something like, "You are enough - the answer lies within you!"? When you read or heard that ... did you believe it?
I used to believe it. At age 22 I was first exposed to the self-help world and messages like this run wild in that industry. "You are enough", "The answer lies within", "Look inside yourself" etc. They sound true at first glance, at least, they appeal to every human's over inflated sense of self (the ego) which makes us want to believe it is true. It certainly appealed to my ego. Only one small problem ... it isn't true.
I want to categorically state and tell you right here, right now that all those mantras are complete and utter garbage. They are devoid of truth and amount to nothing more than dust in the wind. You don't have all the answers inside you, and the solutions to the problems in your life cannot be found sitting in a lotus position inside your "inner mind/heart/soul/consciousness/whatever-other-term-you-can-think-of". It's BS. Think about it...
Did you go to college? If so, why? Don't you know that the answer to everything lies within? Why did you bother seeking knowledge from an outside source? (I.e.: All your college teachers, classmates, advisers, etc.). I bet you went to college because you knew that there was something you wanted to learn, and the answer wasn't just sitting inside you waiting to be discovered - you had to look outside yourself and find it.
The same is true in the protector world. After doing nearly 100 interviews with some of the finest protectors (men and women) on the planet, if there is one thing they all agree on, it is that a protector MUST continually learn, study, train and seek counsel from more experienced, learned and knowledgeable protectors. If a protector had "all the answers within" he wouldn't need to train. The military and police academies would just need to tell their people, "You have it all inside you. Therefore, here is your badge, uniform, gun and mission. Go do it."
In case you didn't know, this isn't how it works. They are submitted to training, many must continue to pass standards and exams throughout their entire career and the good ones seek self-learning on their own regardless of what the department pays for.
Let's pause a moment here and deal with an objection I can already hear you making in your mind. "But Alex, those sayings of 'you are enough' and 'the answer lies within' are not meant to be taken literally. They are meant to empower the person, to give them self-confidence, and to raise self-esteem." I assert that even in this context, it is still garbage. Worthless and purposeless. How so?
You are not enough in your current state to accomplish the things you wish to accomplish. Let me explain: If you are single but want to get married, I hope you realize that you will need to learn, grow, adapt, and upgrade yourself in order to make marriage work. You aren't "enough" as you currently are. If you start working at a company as a GOFER (go for this, go for that) and you want to be CEO someday, I hope you realize that the skills, knowledge and abilities you possess as a GOFER are not enough to be CEO. You must grow, adapt, and upgrade.
This seems fairly obvious when put in context like this. So why do these "you are enough" mantras and myths get so well circulated? As I alluded to earlier, they appeal to one of mankind's greatest flaws and natural weaknesses - excessive self-love, pride and ego. It makes us FEEL really good to think that we already possess everything we need. How flattering. If only it were true.
It also is meant to appeal to your abject laziness. News flash: human nature is lazy. This is universal and is not dependent on culture or upbringing. It takes EFFORT and HARD WORK to overcome this laziness. You see, if the answer lies within, that gives you the excuse you want to not have to get up and go seeking. It absolves you from having to exert any effort and gaining new skills, becoming more virtuous, or at maintaining or building relationships. Too bad reality doesn’t match this utopia.
My newest book that I am writing deals with the virtues that make protectors successful. What I have found in my study on virtue is that it is something which must be searched for, strove for, and struggled to acquire. If you believe the lie that "all lies within you", you will not pursue virtue because you will ignorantly or arrogantly think that all the virtue you need already resides within. Nothing could possibly sabotage your life and growth more.
If you are honest with yourself, you know you could be more patient, more humble, more courageous, and more grateful. You know you struggle with certain vices and that they are damaging you in your heart, mind, soul and body. Yet, you reassure yourself by repeating the lie you've been told countless times, "You are enough. The answer lies within." No. It doesn't.
Virtue is something to be pursued, it is a quest you take and it's very much an external journey. Isn't that the whole point? To become better and something greater than you were before? How would that be possible if all the answers already were inside you?
What these mantras are implying is something even more insidious, “You are perfect just the way you are.” Another complete, utter, BS lie. I know that I am personally NOT perfect. I have many flaws that I must struggle against each day or else they will destroy me. This is true of all humans – including you. You are not perfect the way you are. You never have been, and you never will be – that’s the point of the journey. To strive to reach the summit of perfection that you know you cannot attain. That’s what makes your struggle noble.
It is like the warrior who knows that he is going to die in battle. The enemy has overrun you and your comrades and death is staring you in the face. Rather than quit because it is “hopeless”, the warrior defiantly faces death and says, “Do your worst. I will survive and if I don’t, I’m taking you with me.” That is the nature of life; your life.
Another reason this lie is so dangerous is because it kills your drive to pursue, to go on a quest, to seek. If you already had enough food in your fridge and it could never run out, why would you go to the grocery store? You wouldn't. All the food you need is already within your home. Reality is a little b**** though, because your fridge doesn't magically replenish itself, and NEITHER DOES YOUR HEART!
Did you catch that? Let me repeat it because this is a MAJOR point: Just as your fridge isn't going to magically fill up with food, your heart is not going to magically fill up with virtue when you've exhausted the little you had. If you don't seek virtue from good books, good audio programs, good mentors, good teachers, good comrades, good environments and a good God, your heart will not be magically filled. You must go fill it and you must gather the information, knowledge, virtue, etc. from outside yourself. How often must you do this? For your entire life. There is no end, you don’t reach a point where you are “Full” of virtue and you can stop seeking now. You must seek forever.
Stop believing this myth today. Stop listening to "gurus" who flatter you and stroke your ego. YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH. YOU MUST SEEK OUTSIDE YOURSELF TO GROW.
You cannot tell me that "you are enough" when suicide, depression, anxiety disorders, and all manner of other metrics that demonstrate that humanity is less happy than it’s ever been are skyrocketing. Did all these millions of people miss the memo that they are "enough"? I assert it is because these people see the hypocrisy of these mantras. What hypocrisy?
Harsh truth coming: You know you are not enough. We all know it. Yet, we try to convince ourselves that we are to avoid doing the work it will require to fix it. But you cannot lie to yourself. Your soul, heart, mind and even your body can FEEL and SENSE the hypocrisy. If you believe that you are "enough" and yet you continue to feel depressed and sad, your subconscious asks a powerful question, "What is wrong with me then? If I am enough, why don't I feel like I'm enough?" Because you are not – You are telling yourself a lie and you know it. Life is a journey, a quest. We are sharks - we must swim or die. We must do or die. Life is not a passive "sport." You are not meant to ride the bench. You are meant to do.
To make matters worse, many people say that it is cruel to tell someone they are not enough. This is vicious and cruel beyond words because it prevents the sufferer from receiving the only antidote to their problem - the truth.
As a protector, it is my duty and my sacred calling to tell the truth. One of the core principles that classical warriors operate under is "to defend the paths of truth." You need to know that you are not enough, you must seek more outside yourself.
Once you believe that this is reality (and it is), you can go about seeking the remedy. You can heal yourself. I give you permission to acknowledge that you are lacking, that you are not enough and that that is OK. Now go fix it. Go strive to become more virtuous, more confident, more actionable, and healthier. Go do it – your friends need you, the world needs you and perhaps most importantly, you need you.
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National Speaker, author, blogger, and life-long student of warrior arts and science.