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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I Am Not Your Guru

“Life happens for you, not to you.”                        ~ Tony Robbins

I read a small book by Anthony “Tony” Robbins once that a friend of mine gave me. I found it inspiring, and his suggestions good. Hard to follow, but sound.

The Netflix feature length documentary, Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru, follows Tony through a weeklong event called Date With Destiny, which was held in Boca Raton, Florida. Joe Berlinger, a documentary filmmaker, directs it. Tony gives conferences worldwide and this was just one of the many offerings he schedules for his followers.

The film is not rated, but I’d give it an R rating as it features very liberal use of the f-word by Tony during the event. He explained that all cultures have certain taboo words, and when he uses these taboo words, it keeps people in the present and engaged. Perhaps.

Over 2,500 people attend an event such as this, paying over $4,000 each to attend. That should give you an idea about the financial status of people he attracts. Tony has a fleet of helpers, some of whom are assigned to groups of people as a kind of moderator or group leader for the individual, and for the group exercises they engage in when not in the main convention area listening to Tony.

I had heard some of Tony’s background previously; his growing up in poverty in an abusive home, a bout with homelessness that inspired him to “sculpt” his life and his persona so his family will never have to endure such deprivations or angst.

I found the documentary fascinating. Some really troubled people, abused themselves, attend these conventions and we see their sharing and Tony’s response live. I found him to be authentic, compassionate, intuitive and sometimes unpredictable. Participants bring other members of the audience to tears, as they sometimes did me. Tony says change can happen in a moment. And for some in the audience, it did.

Unconventional in his approach, he apparently has a wide following. I liked some of what he was saying. He says he’s not just a positive thinker kind of guy, and seems to really emphasize action.

I thought there was a good balance of private talks with Tony (for the viewer to get some of his personal history), live coverage of the event and of what the participants were doing, along with updates on the few individuals who had interventions with Tony that were a focus in the film.

I have a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and have spent many years as a therapist in all types of situations. After watching this documentary, I would caution you to take what you need and leave the rest. I didn’t care for every technique Tony used to help people, but some of what he was advocating are things I will use in my own life. I recommend it if you have a curiosity about psychology, the science of change, or just about people and their stories.

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