"Epiphany Addiction"

The concept in this article is relevant to broader self-development, not just social skills. "Epiphany Addiction" is an informal term I came up with to describe a process that I've seen happen in some people who are working on their personal issues.

It begins when someone is trying to solve a problem they have, like a lack of self-confidence, and they come across a piece of advice or a motivational snippet that causes them to have an epiphany or profound realization. If they're going through a self-help book or article they may read a particular insight or bit of advice that triggers one. People can also have an epiphanies on their own if they're doing a lot of writing and self-reflection to analyze their situation. I'm not sure if certain types of people are more prone to having these epiphanies, although I'd guess over-thinkers are more susceptible.

The content of these epiphanies are often pretty trite when you look back on them, but they feel very profound and life changing at the time. They make you feel very pumped up and excited for discovering something so simple, yet so powerful. An example is, "Instead of worrying about whether you're a good match for other people, think about whether they're a good fit for you." Nothing too special about that idea, but it may hit you the right way, and you'll feel psyched up and think, "Yes! Yes! That's it! Of course! I always worry about what other people think of me. I need to start caring about what I think of them!!!"

The problem with these epiphanies is they cause you to feel really charged up, and like something has clicked into place in your mind, and that everything will be different from now on. However, they usually don't lead to any tangible results. You walk around for a day or two feeling ready to take on the world, but you don't act any differently, and the 'high' soon wears off.

The 'addiction' part comes into play when people fall into a cycle where they come up with epiphany after epiphany to try to recapture that fleeting pumped-up state. They may fuel the addiction by journaling their way through half a dozen notebooks or by devouring mounds of self-help books or websites. Each time they have a fresh epiphany they feel as if they've stumbled on some life-changing discovery, are energized for a bit without going on to make any real-world changes, and then return to their default of being stuck and unsatisfied. They always end up back at the drawing board of trying to think their way out of their problem, and it's not long before they come up with the next pseudo-earth shattering insight.

As the cycle goes on the effect of each new epiphany becomes shorter and shorter. The first time someone has a supposedly profound realization they may feel fired up for a few days. As the pattern progresses they may come up with an epiphany and then totally forget about it five minutes later. It's often at this point that they realize that profound insights are cheap, and they won't solve their troubles by having some magical thought that will radically realign their mind all in one go.

I touch on this in other articles as well, but the flaw with this whole approach is that actual improvement usually comes over time, and often through doing some sort of work in the real world like practicing your social skills or facing your fears. If you want to be more self-assured or socially savvy you have to build up to it. It's not that there's this super powerful, together person already inside you, and he or she just needs the right piece of information or way of looking at things to burst forth fully formed.