Thursday, 10 July 2008

Wayne Dyer: Your Erroneous Zones

I’d heard Your Erroneous Zones, one of Wayne Dyer’s earliest books (published in 1976), mentioned many times. Yet despite this, despite the fact that it is a book that has sold over 30 million copies and is considered one of the best-selling books of all time, and despite loving other newer books of Wayne’s, I only very recently picked up a copy of Your Erroneous Zones to read.

I like to read authors’ books in the order in which they were written, if I can (not always possible, especially with someone like Wayne, who is a prolific writer!). I do this where possible though as I like seeing the development of an author’s thoughts around a topic. In this case, however, it was interesting to go back, especially so far back (pretty much to the beginning of Wayne’s writing career!). While Wayne’s later books are much more focused on spirituality, Your Erroneous Zones is much more of a standard personal development book. It is also written in a more formal tone that dates it to the 1970s ;). Neither of these detracts from the power of the book – it is clear and inspiring in its message to stop worrying, stop feeling guilty and replace these “erroneous zones” with a more empowered way of living.

The book covers a range of topics, diverse yet connected in that growth in one area has a spill-over effect into other areas. Topics addressed include self-acceptance, approval seeking behaviour, guilt, worry, procrastination, anger, and becoming independent. Sprinkled throughout the book are also exhortations to live in the present moment, predating Eckhart Tolle’s work on the topic, although not giving as much information on this specifically. Each chapter discusses one of the “erroneous zones” in detail, giving examples of how each zone manifests itself in daily life to make it easy to recognise when you are displaying ineffective behaviour, as well as providing strategies for overcoming and eliminating the ineffective behaviour and replacing it with a much more effective way of being and doing. Because of the interconnectedness of all the topics discussed, there is a fair amount of repetition of strategies for eliminating the erroneous zones, only slightly different for each behaviour. Rather than this being annoying, I found it quite comforting to know that the strategies could be distilled into a few basic principles, although I would have liked to see the book itself pull this together (I guess I have to do some work though, right?!).

The final chapter of Your Erroneous Zones is a portrait of a person who has eliminated all erroneous zones and is living an emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy life. It was interesting to read through this chapter to see how I’m doing compared to Wayne’s ideal. Luckily, for myself, I found that I displayed many effective behaviours already! I was also able to identify those that I’m still personally working with – rather than beating oneself up over not meeting the ideal, this is an excellent opportunity to see what effective behaviour would look like, and hence to identify areas of further growth.

Would I recommend that you read this book, given that it was written over 30 years ago? Yes, I would. It is a classic in the personal development genre, and it still feels relevant today. If you’re looking for a fairly no-nonsense approach to development, then this book is for you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although this blog is quite old, I'll comment on it, anyway.

I remember that book. I read the book. At the time, I thought it was interesting and helpful to anyone who was trying to reach self-actualization.

What I find interesting now is that, after 30 years, Dr. Dwyer talked a lot about God and even acknowledges the existence of God. Back then, he seemed to be more focused on relying on one's own strength and intelligence to learn and grow from their own knowledge.

Amazing how, as a person ages, we learn that seeking knowledge through our own understanding doesn't work. Relying on God's Wisdom and what He wants for our life, is really the only way to achieve a peace and understanding in our own life.

Dr. Dwyer is a good writer, I give him that. I also think that his timing was brilliant. He managed to take a time of confusion and searching - as in the 70's - and use it to his advantage to garner wealth and fame. Now that he's a senior citizen, he realizes that we shouldn't do what feels good but rather have faith in God and live by what God wants for us, not what we want.