Unpopular Opinions
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Unpopular Opinions

This Article Won’t Transform You

Sometimes what you need isn’t found in a writer’s words

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

Am I undermining my authority, or the raison d’etre of this publication, with this article’s title? Am I not doing the opposite of what every marketing expert tells you to do?

Perhaps. But it’s also true that sometimes you don’t need to find answers in an online article.

Sometimes the answer you need is not a story, an explanation, or a lesson.

Sometimes the answer you seek requires different words like prayer or an affirmation.

Sometimes the answer is not found in words at all, but in the space between them.

Sometimes, indeed many times, what you need is silence. You need to stop reading, stop talking, and go within.

If you’re reading this article with the hope that it will transform your life in some way, you may be disappointed.

I’m not criticizing my writing or trying to lower your expectations as if to tell you not to expect too much interest here.

I’m talking about your relationship to the written word and why you’re reading an article about spirituality, meditation, personal growth, or self-care in the first place.

You’re looking for something. Maybe you hope that you’ll learn a tip or feel inspired. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s wonderful that so much experience and information are now available.

But if you’re doing it to procrastinate, to entertain yourself instead of doing the hard work that spiritual growth requires — what might be called edutainment — then I gently urge you to stop reading. You’ll feel momentarily uplifted until you need another piece of writing. Don’t let spiritual wisdom and advice become a form of mental junk food.

Stop reading. Well, not just yet.

Reading about other people’s lives can only take you so far. I and many other writers can tell you about all of our wonderful adventures in healing, higher consciousness, repairing fractured relationships, discovering love, and loving all parts of ourselves. But none of that will lead you to experience the same.

But, you say, you’ll give me some advice!

Reading advice from other people, based on their own experiences, only works if you try it and see if it works for you.

The only way to make profound change is to embrace the wisdom and then do the work.

If you think reading about one success story of transformation after another is going to heal you, then I encourage you to watch — only watch — sports and exercise DVDs and see what happens to your waistline.

What you’re doing is living vicariously, deriving inspiration from your interest in another person’s story. You’re living off the interest — with all that double entendre suggests — in other people’s tales of transformation.

You can read about meditation or you can meditate.

You can read about people’s experiences with prayer, forgiveness, mantra, metta, and energy healing or you can pray, forgive, chant a mantra, do metta, or work with an energy healer.

You can read about what others are doing with their lives or you can start living your own.

You can’t do both at the same time.

I’m not saying you can’t ever read. In fact, I highly recommend that you read, and not just articles, but books too. Yes, that’s self-interested, as a book author. But there is a lot of wisdom to be found in books. Not just new books — many classics have already covered the necessary ground.

I simply mean that if you only read, you’ll never experience genuine transformation.

You’ll live vicariously through the possibility of transformation, as shared by others.

Tales of transformation or growth or emotional healing can become a source of entertainment, rather than true motivation to do the work to transform your life.

So the next time you feel the urge to read an article rather than meditate, pray, journal, or something else altogether, pause and do your practice. See where that urge to read and be inspired goes when you direct that energy inward.

Now you can stop reading and do the work.




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Patrick Paul Garlinger, Ph.D., J.D.

Patrick Paul Garlinger, Ph.D., J.D.


Former academic and lawyer, now an intuitive and spiritual writer. Passionate about time and our connection to all that is. My new book: https://amzn.to/3ScqPyW