Even during these chaotic times, The Bourke Accounting Book Club is still reading. Recently, the selection was Sara, Book 1, by Esther and Jerry Hicks. Basically, the premise is that if you put positive vibes out into the world, good things will happen to you. Instead of telling yourself what you don’t want in life, focus on the things you do want and, eventually, “The Law of Attraction” will bring these special gifts to your doorstep in a nicely wrapped package. Finally, we are meant to appreciate things, rather than waste time gloomily mired in the unpleasant.

As far as self-help books go, this one wasn’t too out of control and some of the advice made sense. However, with the 120-year prison sentence of Keith Raniere, founder of NXIVM, we’ve seen how self-help can become very dangerous. Like other ideas that start innocently, Raniere’s teachings didn’t originally focus on sex trafficking and forced labor. One of Raniere’s beliefs revolved around the concept that a person’s “past experiences affect their current decision-making” (Insider.com) and, by following his plan, people could let go of the past and live freely and happily. So, how did a bit of pseudo psychology devolve into women being branded and held against their will?

It could be argued that Raniere was always a narcissistic sociopath who simply had to wait for enough followers to manifest these personality traits on a large scale. While this is most likely the case, his condition was exacerbated by The Cult of Self-Help. Self-improvement is commendable. When we use positive thinking techniques to quit smoking or to motivate us to exercise, we are helping ourselves. However, when we begin to lose ourselves to the whims of others or begin to believe things that don’t make rational sense, that’s where the problem lies.

For example, Esther Hicks of Sara fame doesn’t write her books. No, her books are actually written by “Abraham.” Abraham is a “group consciousness from the non-physical dimension” (Wikipedia.org) who Ms. Hicks is able to channel. For $250, you, too, can attend a workshop and listen to the weird voice coming out of the unassuming, heavily hair sprayed matron. A former member of this group warns that, if your loved ones don’t believe in “Abraham,” you are to stop talking to them because “your past doesn’t matter” (AbrahamHicksFraud.com). In addition, this same member alleges that the group “took over $11K [from her mother] in less than a month for spiritual healing sessions” (AbrahamHicksFraud.com). Well. That’s one way to keep those positive vibes flowing.

At this point, we know that self-help is a lucrative business. Between books, videos and workshops, the self-help industry rakes in about $9.9 billion per year (FreedomofMind.com). When we are graced with a late-night infomercial featuring that old schooler Tony Robbins, it’s easy to see that he’s a happy man. It’s also easy to see why: tickets to his one-day workshops start at $1,095 (Blog.100am.com). While everyone has to make a buck, charging the confused and sick that amount of money is distressing, to say the least.

Whether it’s a 12-step program or an I’m OK-You’re OK scenario, it’s important to keep everything in perspective. To turn a self-help journey into your whole life is dangerous and expensive. Your personality should not exist solely as a reflection of a “guru’s” mindset, no matter how innocuous it appears. Letting self-help get you through a traumatic experience is lovely, but anyone who encourages disowning your family or spending all of your money is not to be trusted.

Although Bourke Accounting’s bookkeepers and tax preparers can certainly help you, they’re not into the brainwashing game. In addition, Bourke Accounting pros will be more than happy to meet your loved ones. Finally, Bourke Accounting experts don’t want all of your money. Financial matters are important, but they shouldn’t take up your life – see a Bourke Accounting rep and let someone else help with the numbers.

Come see us any time. Our number is 502-451-8773 and don’t forget to visit our website at www.bourkeaccounting.com. See you soon!

Written by Sue H.