The Stockdale Paradox

Self help books, tapes, seminars do a great job of pumping you up and getting you super motivated. But that feeling wears off somewhat quickly. Then you need to buy the next self help book to get that feeling back. And the next one.

It never ends.

Like everyone else the so called self help gurus want your money. I am not saying that they don’t have some good ideas. But they kind of leave you hanging.

Persistence, focus, believe, achieve, set goals, write goals, visualize, etc., yet you can’t seem to make any headway with all that information.

All this information but no action.


You can’t put your finger on it.

There’s something there.

Something that’s holding you back.

You don’t know what it us, until now.

It’s all crap. There is no system.

Life cannot be a formula that you just plug your feelings, emotions, dreams and ideas into and it all works out.

We are human beings, not a computer program.

What is The Stockdale Paradox?

The Stockdale Paradox is named after admiral Jim Stockdale, who was a United States military officer held captive for eight years during the Vietnam War.

Stockdale was tortured more than twenty times by his captors, and never had much reason to believe he would survive the prison camp and someday get to see his wife again. And yet, as Stockdale never lost faith during his ordeal.

So what’s the Paradox? Stockdale was also a believer in his own reality therapy. He recognized that he was in hell and that he may not survive. He did not have a pie-in-the-sky optimism about the situation.

The self help gurus want you to stick your head in the sand and hope that your problems go away. Well of course when this does not happen they want you to buy their next book. You were not visualizing hard enough or often enough or maybe you were not facing in the right direction.

You have to be realistic about your current situation and you have to come up with the things to do that will create change.

You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.

AND at the same time…

You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Maybe you are overweight, or your finances are a mess or your relationship is on the rocks.

These things won’t fix themselves. You have to help your self.

You are responsible for creating optimism in your life. But you also must be a realist about your current situation.

There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, “Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,” and an optimist who says, “Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine anyway.” Either way, nothing happens. – Yvon Chouinard

You have to do the things that will make the difference. Find strength in adversity. Find others who have overcome the same problems you are facing.

The Stockdale Paradox. Combine unwavering optimism with brutal honesty. Your own reality therapy.

No self help book or guru can do that for you.

Only you can help your self.

Please share this with others.

“Live Simply”


6 thoughts on “Amazing, Realistic Self Help For Overcoming Adversity

  1. This is so true. It’s all about the action.

    I read self-help books because they make me feel good and that anything is possible. They don’t really change my life because I don’t make any concrete changes and what’s taught in the book is soon forgotten.

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