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10 Big Fat Lies Of Self Development

I’ve talked a few times about self development myths on this blog and rather unsurprisingly I’m going to talk about them again.

The proliferation of self development blogs has created a need for people to create material to feed to their readers, but unfortunately most blogs don’t have editors, researchers or fact checkers.

So some bloggers think it’s cool to run a post based on some vague memory about a stat they think they once saw on Twitter, Facebook or was it Jerry Springer?

Well it’s not cool.

It’s dumb and it breaches the duty of care we have as bloggers towards our readers when we’re posting on topics that we have no understanding of.

All of the examples I’m going to give you, I have seen at some time or another in a blog post or on social media, and most on numerous occasions.

And pretty much all of them have had me metaphorically and sometimes literally banging my head on my desk in frustration.

I know I’ve covered a couple of them previously, but I also know readers come and readers go so I make no apologies for doing so again.

1. Depression Is A Limiting Belief

This was actually a bullet point in the post that triggered today’s semi-rant. I’m not going to name the writer because I like him, but on this one he’s flat out wrong.

Being down for a day or so may be caused by a limiting belief. Being grumpy because you didn’t get that pay raise, job, or lottery winning ticket may have been caused by a limiting belief.

But clinical depression is not a frickin limiting belief, it is a diagnosed medical condition and is genetic in a great many cases.

It’s also more common in women so are we to presume women have more limiting beliefs?

We cannot treat mental illness so lightly and be so disingenuous to the people who have it.

We’re trying to break down the stigmas attached to it, not build them up by implying it’s the sufferers own own fault.

2. You Just Need To Let Go Of Fear

This is the new kid on the block and hasn’t so much grown legs as bought a Ferrari and is now touring the self development world and being invited in to speak via red carpets and showers of rose petals.

The phrase “just let go of fear” is twee, crass and unfortunately ignores the way the human brain is wired up.

Fear is a deeply hard-wired primeval response because your entire survival depends upon it.

Next time somebody tells you to just let go of fear, thank them for their advice and then ask for a step by step guide on how you should do that.

If that guide doesn’t involve either spending 60 years meditating alone in a jungle or surgery to remove the limbic system part of your brain, tell them they’re talking bollocks.

3. Self Development Doesn’t Work

I bet I have had this or a derivative of this aimed at me over 100 times since I started Life Coaching and it never fails to amuse me.

It’s quite obviously wrong and I have seen scores, maybe hundreds of clients change the way they think about things and improve their lives.

And if my admittedly anecdotal evidence doesn’t convince you, go and read a few autobiographies of some of the most successful people on the planet and see how many of them crafted their lives.

My guess is the people who holds this view have either never bothered to try and change because they were scared to death they may fail.

Or, they tried and did fail because they lacked the right information, the tenacity and the belief that change was possible.

Positive change becomes infinitely harder to achieve if you come from a starting point of not really believing it’s possible.

4. You Can Have Anything You Want, As Long As You Believe You Can

On the one hand you will have people telling you self development doesn’t work, and on the other there are the ‘guru’s trying to sell you the dream (usually for a lot of money) that anything is possible.

It’s not.

I’m all for big fat hairy audacious goals, and if you sign up for my newsletter I’ll even send you an in-depth e-book on how to successfully set them, but let’s try and be sensible for a moment.

No matter how hard I believe I can get booked to sing at Carnegie Hall, I can’t.

I have the singing talent of deaf chimp on helium. And at 49 no amount of belief or work will change that.

You can have a lot, you can probably have a better life and hit some huge goals if you really want to, but you cannot have anything you want, nobody can.

5. Hypnosis Will Make You A Better Person

I had a 30 minute consult with a lady the other day in which I explained to her what I could and couldn’t do.

Near the end she paused and then asked me if I could use hypnosis to cure her issues?

And  before I could answer that I no longer practice hypnotherapy she went on to say she thought she needed past life regression to sort things out.

I sighed because I get this at least once a month (minus the past life regression) and to be honest it’s not the fault of the person asking because there’s such a mystique surrounding hypnosis.

I’ll backtrack somewhat here by saying hypnosis may under the right circumstances be able to make you a ‘better’ person.

If that is, you being more relaxed or quitting a bad habit qualifies you to say you’re a better person.

But it’s not a panacea and cannot change your genetics. It also varies in effectiveness massively from person to person.

Bonus Lie: Past life regression. Don’t even go there with me, it’s a myth with no scientific substance behind it.

6. Positive Thinking Is Crucial To Self Development.

I almost had a full blown panic attack at Christmas when a client e-mailed me to thank me for the coaching and to tell me she was really going to practice her positive thinking moving forward.

She had mistaken (probably my fault to be honest) the incredibly powerful tool of reframing for positive thinking and I immediately e-mailed her back to explain the difference.

Positive thinking (and I’m also including affirmations), can actually be counter-productive to some people who aren’t naturally inclined to think that way.

When they don’t see the results they were hoping for they can become down and think there’s something wrong with them. There isn’t.

On the other hand, optimistic thinking is incredibly helpful and liberating. Optimistic people tend to be healthier, more successful and a lot more resilient than positive thinking people.

I’m not knocking thinking positively, but please don’t deny self evident truths like it seems half the people on Reality TV shows do.

If you want to read more on positive thinking versus optimistic thinking check out the brilliant ‘Learned Optimism’ by Martin Seligman

7. Multi-Tasking Improves Performance

Unfortunately if you do try and multi-task you will almost certainly end up degrading your performance.

For all but about 2% of the population of so-called Super-Taskers (study done by the University of Utah), none of us can do two conscious things at once without seeing a huge drop off in efficacy.

Of course the manufacturers of Smart Phones and tablets don’t really won’t you knowing this so they create the illusion that they’re helping you get more done.

8. Change Is Easy

On the one hand you have people who are suspicious of Life Coaching and self development in general and can’t wait to tell you change is hard or even impossible and don’t waste your time.

And then on the other you have the self development writers who can’t wait to tell you it’s easy and you just need to buy their product to succeed.

There’s no wonder people are confused and obviously the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Some people change with almost effortless ease whereas others spend years trying to change and never achieve the results they want to see.

I happen to think, and I have no data to back this belief up, that people fear change more than anything else and that in and of itself can make it much harder than necessary.

But it doesn’t have to be like that if you’re careful to chunk your change down as per the 12 steps approach.

Alcoholics in the 12 step program don’t give up for ever, they give up for a day.

And then another day, and then another.

This is the wisest and easiest form of change although I would never go as far as to say it’s easy or straightforward for most people.

It’s something that can be right and it can be wrong, in which case it should be delivered with caution and not as a blanket statement.

9. Taking Medication Is A Sign of Weakness

I nearly exploded when I read this on a self development blog a couple of months ago, but actually managed to calm myself to the point of not even commenting.

If you’re feeling a bit low then I wouldn’t encourage you to make anti-depressants your first port of call.

We all get down from time to time, it’s ok, it’s part of life and it’s normal.

Exercise, meditation and good nutrition are all closely linked to a reduction in mild depression as is doing charitable work.

And 3 out of those 4 are free!

If you have tried that approach and it’s had no effect, or if you have long-term feelings of hopelessness and/or thoughts of self-harm then get yourself to your doctors pronto.

But don’t accept the belief that you’re weak anymore than I am for having a dodgy back, and too much iron in my blood.

Taking medication is only a sign of weakness when the person concerned won’t do a damn thing to change his or her lifestyle and instead uses pills as a crutch.

10. We Only Use 10% Of Our Brains Capacity

I will never tire of telling people this is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I’ve seen it it posted about, tweeted about and voted up on Facebook by people that in actual fact may indeed only be using 10% of their brains.

This myth was shattered by neuroscientists decades ago but it refuses to die gracefully, because it sounds cool, and it allows us to drift off into la-la land thinking about what we could do if we engaged the other 90%.

If you see it loitering around in the recesses of social media please do me a favor and give it the damn good kicking it deserves.

Ok, so I’ve got that lot off my chest for another year or so when I’ll undoubtedly start flogging this dead horse once again.

In the meantime what are your pet peeves on this topic, and do you agree with me or think I got one or more wrong?

Tell me in the comments because everybody knows if you don’t comment on my blog you’re no fun.

Oh and it’s also a fact that you should tweet about it and Facebook it and just send me loads of money and stuff like that…..I think.

50 comments to 10 Big Fat Lies Of Self Development

  • I like your rant lists. You have a god way of bringing together some decent criticism. I’m in large agreement with you.

    I do find research on effective depression treatment doesn’t always get to the Docs treating depression. It’s unfortunate. But I do agree, it’s more than a limiting belief. I shudder to think if I ever suggested that in my writing. Call me out and it will be changed immediately.

    I’m a Professional Hypnotist under one of my hats. I’ve grown quite weary of people asking for miracles. There are some huge misconceptions of what Hypnosis can and can’t do out there. I may address the less covered in an upcoming post.

    Positive Psychology is a fascinating field. Good recommendation, here’s another: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.

    Finally, you seriously still get people with the 10 percent of the brain junk? Sigh.

  • Absolutely agree!! I once had someone tell me I was weak while I tried to explain the concept of major depression to him and the only thing that saved his jaw from my fist was the telephone bridging two continents.

    You also make a great point about positive versus optimistic thinking. I do utilise affirmations because they help me remember what I’m capable of, but I also believe a healthy mindset of pushing through the fear + pain + whatever else is one worth cultivating. :)

    And just out of curiosity, how much of our brain’s capacity DO we use? I’ve cited the 10% before and am not proud to admit. Sigh.

    Thank you for debunking these myths! :)

  • So Tim, what percent of our brain do we use? (Just teasing :-) )

    Someone meant well with all of these euphemisms, but they’ve blown out of proportion. I sometimes wonder if the people writing these things ever self improved themselves. Did they really use positive thinking to develop themselves?

    It’s okay, for me, if you don’t have an encyclopedia or some study to site. However, you must at least have some personal experience. That’s what blogging is all about.

    • I think what happens is people who are natural positive and successful join the dots and presume that it’s the positive thinking that got them where they are and presume it must be the same for anybody else.

  • Great reflections. Just the ones they generated to me.
    1. As far as I know, believing is so personal. Some think the are punished, others challenged. But generally, truly believers, are happiers because they have faith, hope.
    2. Agree. Use fear to know what to do. Although next step will happen when it is overcome, so, finally, you will have to let it go. Fear is the brake to advance. Hope is the fuel to do so.
    3. Agree.
    4. As in logic class, believing is necessary condition, although not enough.
    5. Hypnosis won’t make you do anything you couldn’t on your own or against your own conscience.
    6. Agree. Again, necessary although not enough.
    7. I created the rule of the ONE, in fact, we only can concentrate on one thing at a time. Simultaneous multitasking is a myth.
    8. Agree.
    9. Medication is not a weakness, but those who take it don’t know if they are who choose, or the medication. Personal experience. The better, struggle.
    10. Of course. Urban legend.

    • I’ve got to be honest and say I have never talked to somebody with severe depression who saw it as a challenge.

      In fact I’m not even sure that would be possible because how can you be depressed but be able to take such an empowering stand point it’s the antithesis of the problem.

      Maybe afterwards I can see that, that they look back on it as being a challenge.

  • I don’t think I’ve espoused any of these myths on my site… At least not intentionally. I really do agree with you on that 4th one. Anytime I’m talking about setting goals, I’m always stressing balancing the goal with reason. Of course, now I’m wondering what a “deaf chimp on helium” sounds like :D

    Thanks for sharing (and dispelling) these myths!

  • Not good Grady, trust me!

  • #2 is dead on. I have a self-development blog myself and I’ve talked about fear before… a couple of times.

    The last thing I would ever tell someone is that they have to let go of fear. That’s impossible. Just like anything else, though, they can choose how to respond to fear if they have enough self-control.

    Fear is a protector. Without fear, you’d probably be dead in a week. But not all fear should be enough to totally change your course of action. Fear of public speaking shouldn’t stop you from getting on stage. You’ll never remove that fear. But you can change the way you react to it.

    The new trend to tell people that they have to remove all fear is terribly misunderstood. Instead, they need to learn how fear operates… and learn to use it more wisely.

  • I do believe that positive thinking contributes to success. I also think that critical thinking is crucial. Folks who see problems, find solutions, and execute knowing that they will succeed at some point seem to have a winning combination.

    It takes all of it.

    • Science pretty much disagrees with your take on positive thinking Nneka, but I respect your opinion.

    • Nneka, you may want to read “Flourish” by Martin Seligman. He’s the world’s foremost authority on happiness, well-being and positive psychology. After reading the book and doing some of the exercises I was amazed at how powerful they are. He does a good job of explaining the difference between positive thinking and optimism. From your post it looks like you’re describing optimism, which is not the same as positive thinking.

  • Brilliant list Tim, with numbers 2 and 8 being particular pet peeves of mine!

    Love Martin Seligman’s work; just finished reading Flourish and highly recommend it.

  • Years ago I let a therapist talk me into past life regression. I found it to be utter nonsense, obviously either my imagination or tapping into a Jungian ‘collective unconscious’…either way, it was in no way useful to my condition. Later, when he suggested that, to cure my depression, I should leave my family and move into his spare room I got the proof I needed that he was the worst kind of fraud. All I can say is “Buyer beware!”

    • For some people I guess it gives them hope, but it’s not the kind of hope I’d recommend.

      It always amazes me how many people who claim to have been regressed seem to have been working for a King or Queen or knew prominent people of the time.

      What are the odds of that eh? ;-)

  • Tim,

    As someone who’s not naturally inclined to positive thinking, but has indeed become more optimistic over the years – I’d like to think that’s me getting smarter – and also as someone who’s very skeptical of most self-development/self-help books, lectures and other materials, let me tell you:

    Reading this was a breath of fresh air.

    I’m glad there’s someone like you out there, someone brave enough to tell people that some methods will simply not work.

    Also, kudos for dismantling the old fluff about “letting go of fear.” Fear can’t be eliminated, but it can be tamed. “Letting go,” it seems to me, is pretending it isn’t there. How are you supposed to deal with something that you won’t acknowledge?
    I never heard of a problem that went away because it was ignored. Have you?

    • Well there was this girlfriend one time! ;-)

      But no, you’re right, facing your own reality has to be the starting point for change.

      And you’re right to be skeptical, there’s a lot of crap buried with the good stuff and it’s not easy to spot one from the other.

  • Mantha

    I agree with your points and am glad that you wrote this. My pet peeve on this subject is that everyone uses buzzwords but rarely go in-depth to explain what they really mean. For example, everyone says to be present, and that is great as far as it goes, but maybe a few ideas on how to achieve that might be helpful. Not everyone is like me and will keep digging until they figure things out and most will just give up before they start because they have no idea how to put so much of what is out there into practice.

    • If you want ideas on being present Mantha you should click on the free stuff tab and download my free ebook on meditation!

      • Mantha

        I have that one and quite a few others of yours and they have all been incredibly helpful. I really enjoy the way you write. You tell it like it is and you don’t talk down to, or over, your readers heads. Frankly, you have been a lot more helpful in the areas that I have needed to heal from than my therapist has. I never want to lose another year of my life to anxiety and depression, so I thank you for all that you have done for me and will continue to do.

  • Tim – if you keep trying to reveal the lies and the secrets of the industry, they might try to chuck you out! I’m sure the hypnotists out there are forming and alliance to figure out how to run a protest in front of your house. lol

    Per #8, change can be easy now wit the right medication and life coach? But seriously, I think change can be easy once you decide to embrace change or accept change. When you mentally make that shift (which is nearly impossible) then change is a snap:)

    • I agree matey which is why I said some people can change with almost effortless ease. It’s just that we’re all different and some people find it incredibly hard.

      There’s a posse on my front lawn with pitch forks, lanterns (which is weird cuz it’s light) and watches on key chains. What should I do?

  • Thanks, Tim, for being a rare voice of reason among all the fluff. With all the science now around on the topics that self-development covers, there’s a developing gulf between the happy pixies and the people who take the time to do some research and fact-checking.

    And as a hypnotherapist myself, I do get the occasional miracle-seeker – not as many as you might think, though. They turn off pretty quickly when I talk to them and probably go to someone who promises them a fairyland instead. There are certainly plenty of those in the profession, sadly.

    • Yep, I worry about hypnotherapy with some unscrupulous organizations offering certification after a long weekends training.

      People should not be offering therapeutic intervention after doing such a course.

  • Pershy

    With all the science now around on the topics that self-development covers, there’s a developing gulf between the happy pixies and the people who take the time to do some research and fact-checking. Thanks for sharing.

    • I thing the “happy pixies” contributed to the need to find hard facts to refute or support their “hunches”.

      Some people relate to facts very well. Some folks are working very well with just the hunches, whether or not they are based in fact.

  • Love your list — although I do wish the “effortless ease” method was true and not one of the lies!

    A couple of thoughts:

    Regarding #1 — Totally agree that limiting beliefs don’t cause clinical depression. However, I do think that they make it a whole lot worse to deal with and climb out of. And I wholeheartedly think that limiting beliefs contribute to lower mood and lower quality of life for people who have particularly pernicious ones (or a lot of them), whether they are suffering from clinical depression or not.

    I also think it’s possible that the opposite of this “lie” is actually what’s true: Depression causes limiting beliefs. That has certainly been the case for me at times! All kinds of distorted stuff can happen to one’s thoughts and belief systems when the ol’ chemicals are all out of whack.

    #2 — I couldn’t agree more! Just about everything I’ve ever heard or read by people who’ve done courageous things indicates that the fear never goes away. They just learn to manage it and move forward anyway. Plus, how do you even “let go” of fear? How do you “let go” of any feeling? You don’t — you allow yourself to feel it, observe it, let it have its say, and wait for it to pass. Trying to MAKE it go away often makes it worse, a la “what you resist persists.”

    I’m glad you continue making these lists. I appreciate them, and love the discussions that stem from them. And lord knows there’s enough erroneous statements floating around in the self-help world for a book full of them!

  • Belly fat is a fact of life for many Americans because of our poor eating habits, lack of exercise and stress-filled lives..

  • Hi Tim,
    Man oh man, some of these really resonated with me.

    As I was running through your list, I kept thinking:

    “Yeah! That pisses me off too!”

    I think the one that bothers me the most is the all too commonly said “If you believe it you can do it”.

    This bothers me because I feel it completely disrespects and negates the entire process of making things happen in our lives.

    I have a lot of friends from college who believed they were going to be millionaires by the time they turned 30 as well as running their own company… They were overly confident and consequentially didn’t have the humility to learn from those above them. What has happened to them? Well, they certain aren’t where they “believed” they would be.

    I don’t think we have to 100 percent believe we can do it to make it happen. I have done many things in my life, that I feel insecure or doubtful about… But I still did it.

    I currently live in Japan and am pursusing my childhood dream to become a ninja. Before I came here, was I one hundred percent sure I could handle living abroad in a strange country where I don’t speak the language? NO WAY!

    But I still am moving forward. Do I know if I can “become a ninja”? No, I don’t… But it’s not stopping me from trying.

    I really enjoyed this post. I don’t know if you can tell, but it got me kind of fired up :)

    • For proof of what you say you have to look no further than American Idol.

      There are total incompetents on that show at the beginning that truly believe they can win!

  • No one has no fear. Everybody feels it. Letting go of fear is just a conditioning act of our mind to make us relax but it’s always within us.

  • I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar (manic depression), and have dealt intermittently with mild depression in myself. I have produced remarkable results getting out of mood swings without drugs.

    However, this has been done with nutrients in many occasions. In one incident I got myself out manic psychosis in less than 24 hours. I took about 10 high dose B vitamins. I’ve never returned to hospital as a patient since starting my nutritional program.

    As a Nutrition Consultant I helped someone out of depression in less than 3 days, and people may find relief quite quickly. There can be challenges with people making the changes. You aren’t so resourceful when depressed.

    I’ve experienced a dramatic reduction in anxiety with “Energetic NLP” but that doesn’t just take out one limiting belief. It sorts out lots of energy-level problems at once.

    What I’ve noticed is that people like claiming that people with mental distress have “limiting beliefs” but don’t look at their own lives for their “limiting beliefs” which fit the definition much easier.

    I’d encourage anyone who works with people affected by depression to refer them to doctors and suggest they see a Nutrition Consultant. In the UK the website to look is

    My suspicion is that there are many levels to healing and in most cases we need to address two or more. Some of those levels are biochemical (addressed by drugs and more precisely by nutrition), psychological (NLP and hypnosis amongst others), energetic (i.e. in the energy system) The levels interaction – exercise for instance can help on many levels though may not be sufficient on its own.

    From my knowledge of depression the strongest candidate I have for a limiting belief that could cause depression is “I hate eating oily fish”. EFA (an oil in oily fish) does have some anti-depressant effect, as demonstrated in placebo double blind trials. But that isn’t the sort of limiting belief the so-called personal development experts mean.

    • THIS is awesome!

      What I’ve noticed is that people like claiming that people with mental distress have “limiting beliefs” but don’t look at their own lives for their “limiting beliefs” which fit the definition much easier

      Thanks and still looking forward to reading about ENLP.

      You should also write an ebook documenting what you did and get that message out there. We have disagreed about medication, but largely speaking I agree with your approach and I’m often playing Devils Advocate just to broaden the discussion – not to wine people up ;-)

  • Richard Anderson

    Interesting Tim. Your comments kinda stand out like a beacon of honesty! I’ve been a fan of personal developement ever since I heard ‘Think and Grow Rich’ on vinyl (ahem… some years back) and you’re probably summising that after having read that insightful book I should be living the life of Riley; I’m not!

    Like most people I’ve had to find things out the long, hard way which work for me, and it’s interesting to hear someone actually talking some truth(s) whilst not at the same time attmepting to sell some huge, semiar event!

    I recently discovered a centre tucked away off the main road claiming to enlighten those interested in the meaning of life. I thought, blimey, by the time they’ve figured that one out, they’ll all be dead! Perhaps they should book you as a guest speaker?!

    I agree wholeheartedly with your multitasking comments in particular. I find myself ignoring multi-tasking devices until specific moments of the day otherwise they just suck the life out of your day with nothing to show for the time spent.

    I could go on but I like the way you had the courage to make the comments you did without the fear of putting some folks noses out of joint! Excellent. By the way, when is the overpriced seminar?

    • The seminar is coming but of course it will leave out the magic 5% that will push you over the edge, because that will be a special seminar only for people that are truly committed to giving me $20K!

      Er, I meant truly committed to changing.

      Putting noses out of joint doesn’t bother me at all Richard. Those people that ‘get me’ hang around, those that don’t either move on, or leave a comment telling me I’m an idiot and then move on.

      Win/win ;-)

  • barb

    what are the stats that neuroscience did find out? or, i guess i could google it…enjoyed the rant.

  • cerys

    dear tim,

    FINALLY! Somebody who speaks the same language :-) LOL!
    I agree with all the above points.
    Interested to hear about optimism versus positivism, this was new to me and will definitely be following up.
    Thank you for the book tips.

    I am so tired of people dying to push the next miracle cure on me (or others) without even waiting to hear what I/we actually have (I have a an autoimmune disorder ((basically wrong genetic programming)) which is classified as a ‘rare disease’, which means in plain english that the pharma industries don’t have enough of us to make it financially interesting to develop a cure).

    I’ve got it pretty well under control (with the occasional hospital hiccup), but feel bulldozed when people will try and push me to try some miracle cure (which inmho is also just plain rude!): e.g. drinking one’s own wee (ehm, so why do our bodies want to get rid of it in the first place), to -tatataaaa!!!- positive thinking etc. etc. ad nauseam.

    Thank you so much for your posts.
    They’re great.

  • Don’t set me off on the Pharma industry Cerys. That’s corruption in plain site imho.

    As for drinking your own wee, well it seems you may have a fetishist as a doctor/adviser if you ask me – lol

    And thanks a lot for the kind words.

  • This post is honest and blunt. I like it. #4 is really important because a person needs to understand whats attainable and what is not and set their goals accordingly. You can’t become a talented singer if you’re simply not. Self reflection and common sense should be able to dictate to a person what they can achieve and what they cant.

  • Tim – Good show here, my man. This post is awesome. It’s uncanny how much our perspectives align on many so many things in personal development.

    I just wrote a post on Everlution about “Positive Thinking and Affirmations – When & Why They Don’t Work”…and I site that research that says high self-esteem people do great with positive affs, while they make low self-esteem people feel worse.

    While I do agree that it’s not weak to take medication…I do believe the health care system in the US is setup to make it far to easy to get a prescription to medication, where primary care physicians have the ability to (and often do) hand out SSRIs (and benzos too, which are very dangerous for long term use) like candy to people who don’t actually need them.

    I just had a 2 hour phone conversation yesterday with my friend who’s a former psych doctor in a hospital on this. I think it comes down to underlying philosophical roots of “quick fix” culture that goes outside of just the medical/healthcare system.