# 466: BOOK OF THE WEEK — “Your Erroneous Zones”


Dyer, Wayne W. (2009/1976). Your Erroneous Zones: Escape negative thinking and take control of your life.

Story behind the Book Choice

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a talk by Dyer on YouTube. This is how I got interested in this book. It is a classic of “self-help literature,” even though I do not like the term. The only way anybody can get real help is by helping him-/herself in one way or the other. Dyer was a psychologist but he did integrate spiritual teachings from different religions in his thoughts. What I like best about the book is that he integrates so many passages from literary works, mostly classics. As all of my readers should know by now, these sources are my spiritual inspiration as well. Yes, the Bible might be the ultimate collection of life lessons. But you find these lessons in literary works as well. Maybe more selective and not all at once — but you get them. Literature makes you see yourself through a different lens. That is just what Dyer is basically suggesting.

The “erroneous zones” he is talking about are the ones that make you unhappy and are hindrances to a self-determined and fulfilled life. What Dyer is basically suggesting: Get rid of them and you can create the life you want. That is the message of the Bible as well if we look closely. Yes, there might be some metaphysical power but that power also gives us the power of choice — no matter how devastating the circumstances. This is always something really challenging to hear for people who like to blame others and outside circumstances for their misery. We all like to do that sometimes. But books like this one help us see the patterns behind this thinking. And seeing them is the first step to changing them.

  1. “Just a man”
Dyer 82

This excerpt from Lawrence’s book appears in the chapter “Breaking free from the past.” Unfortunately, the past very much determines our future — at least in our mind. We think that if we did some particular job in the past, we will never get a different one. We feel that a certain pattern of behavior will forever and always determine our future. All these things end up in labels we give ourselves and labels others give to us. And one of these labels is usually related to our job. “You are what you do.” This is basically the social myth that the conversation above hints at. You have to have some job in order to have a label. You are a manager, a teacher, a pastor. That gives you some “worth” in the eyes of others — and very often your own eyes.

The moment people do not have a job anymore — they lose the label.

And often they lose their self-worth as well.

This is a fatal error.

Yes, work also means “dignity.”

But dignity does not need any “work.”

For me, obviously, someone who never had one particular job label and who never identified with one either, this has touched me a lot. We also like labels because they make us belong somewhere. And if you do not have a label, you do not belong anywhere. You have no home. You have no gang. You are just free-floating. The beautiful thing is: This gives you the opportunity to just be yourself — just a “man”, as indicated above. And this very nature of you makes you connected with the whole of humanity. This is a very spiritual lesson but it usually takes a lot of time till you get there. If you get there, life is fun. And the best thing is: You appreciate life in a way that you do not fear death that much anymore because you have very little to regret. You just LIVE.

2. The road less travelled

Dyer 144

No human being is ever completely free of fear. But if you have lived through moments when you were facing death or the death of loved ones or both — you know exactly WHAT MATTERS in life. The things included in this “WHAT MATTERS” are very few: the people you love and the moments of joy you “accumulate.” You probably know this story by Jorge Bucay, right? In English it is called “The Seeker” (see a short version here). It is about a man who discovers tombstones in a village cemetary that only have hours and days written on them. And that, to the surprise of the seeker who is very confused when seeing the tombstones at first, is the actual time “lived” — the moments of joy in a person’s life.

People who travel the “road less travelled by” are often the ones who end up with the highest figure of “happy moments” on their tombstones. These people are constantly searching and they take routes that have no label on them. In other words: There is no indication where these roads lead to. These seekers are not free of fear. But their curiosity to walk the unknown path is far greater than their fear. And their fear of being imprisoned and stuck on a route that is “much travelled” is almost limitless. They are like wild animals in a cage — they scream all the time. They rebel. If you lock them up for too long, they get sick, they even start hurting themselves.

It was actually a baby raccoon that reminded me of that life lesson today.

It was screaming at the top of its lungs until it got to get out of the cage;

Until warm hands patted it and gave her food.

The huge problem with this route less taken is that most people in society do not have much understanding for and patience with the “seekers.” They blame them, they exclude them and they denigrate them. But a true seeker manages to walk his/her path anyhow. Sometimes it takes screaming (like the raccoon), sometimes it takes fighting, and sometimes it just takes being oneself in order to wait for the universe to arrange for the next steps. Whatever helps in the end — the one thing that the seeker shall never forget is that the road “less travelled” is his/her road and there is a reason why God has made him/her walk that path. And the seeker shall never forget the tomb stones...

Every morning when I wake up, I do remember some tombstones. No, this is not depressing. They are actually healthy reminders. They make sure we do not get lost in the tiny little problems of the everyday. They make sure that we do not forget what really matters in life. Funnily enough: Dead people teach us how to live (not different from Jesus, actually!). This is cruel and it tears your heart apart at times. It is the same with every clown, however. The clown would not be able to bring tears of laughter to the people had he/she not lived through all the tears of sadness him-/herself.

3. On your own feet

Dyer 159

I have a quote from Hesse’s Demian on my website. It is a short version of: “The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That God’s name is Abraxas.” One of my dearest coaches said that sentence to me in our first session. That is how I learned about Demian and then read the book. At that time, I had already destroyed my world — the self-made cozy world of walls and conventional self-images and masks we put on to the outside. She, the coach, had seen it before I was able to express it. But self-realization is not a race or any kind of competition. It is something you have to want desperately because you feel like you cannot move on without having some answers.

People who do not obey conventional rules are trouble makers. They break egg shells all the time without even noticing it. They are definitely not lazy, even if other people think they are. But life is not about thinking about what other people think about you. Life is there to be lived. And finding your own inner rules is not an easy task at all. Still, it is the only set of laws that people who think for themselves can follow. And Dyer did a great job in putting together a plethora of “erroneous zones,” of “laws”, in other words, that the world taught you, but that run counter to your nature. It is finding out about that inner nature that God (or whichever name you choose) asks us to do.

If you have found these inner laws — use them as signposts and keep walking.

Obstacles and major tragedies will come your way.

As long as your heart beats,

Your job is to keep walking.

All unnecessary things and people in your life will vanish.

All major things will shine even brighter.

And all the scars and tears and losses

Will turn you into the person

You were meant to be.

Reflection Questions

1) Whenever someone asks you to introduce yourself: What is your “standard” answer? What could be alternatives?

2) Have you ever travelled a “road less travelled”? What has this experience taught you for your life?

3) Do you care about “inner rules”? Do you pay attention to them or do you mute them because outside rules supposedly rule the world?