Sean Kenniff: Stop *Effing Yourself

Sean Kenniff describes himself as an ordinary guy who has had some extraordinary experiences. He’s a neurologist, television journalist, author, radio host, and former reality TV show contestant. But above everything else he is a happy, compassionate and very thankful man. We asked him a bit about himself and also about his new book, Stop *Effing Yourself.

Sean was interviewed by M.J. Fievre in August 2010 for Sliver of Stone Magazine.

MJF: Sean, many people know you from the television show Survivor. How did you life change after your appearance on that show?

SK: I appeared on the very first season of Survivor on CBS, which is considered by many to be the grand-daddy of all reality television shows. Millions of Americans watched the series and for some it was almost an addiction. So things got crazy for a little while. It was very weird to be recognized by strangers—because in a sense, these strangers knew me. It was reality television; I was not acting. So at the very least the Survivor fans knew the parts of me that were depicted on television—the good and the bad. That was very odd. Every now and then I still get recognized from the show, which is really unusual considering the show aired ten years ago. It’s testimony to the potency of the show, I guess. From a professional point of view Survivor was an enormous springboard for my medical television journalism career.

MJF: How did you become a writer? When did you start writing?

SK: I have always wanted to be a writer. Every night when I go to bed I think of storylines as I drift off to sleep. That’s how I come up with my best ideas—semiconsciously. I try to string the narrative together night after night. I just pick up where I left off the night before. The process distracts me from my daily stress and it really helps me fall asleep. During medical school I would think of different scenes and dialogues for my novel MAD, knowing eventually I would put it down on paper. I had it all in my head before I put a single word on paper. I have a few other unfinished novels in my head too!

MJF: You have a new book out. “Stop Effing Yourself.” What is it about? Is it s self-help book?

SK: Stop *Effing Yourself can best be described as “self-help for self-sabotage.” We all “eff” ourselves from time to time. Some people sabotage their careers, their love lives, their finances, or their health. Others sabotage everything. Stop *Effing Yourself identifies the biggest mistakes people make in key areas of life (those are the “effing problems”)—whether it be money, love, health, or career—and it offers explicit and simple solutions (the “effing solutions”). So Stop *Effing Yourself is not only a self-help book, it is also a how-to book. It gives you concrete steps to improve your relationships, your finances, your health and your career goals.

MJF: What personal experiences lead you to the writing of this book, in which you explain the psychological underpinnings of self-sabotage?

SK: Like many people, I found myself coming really close to accomplishing a goal, but then I would suddenly back away or let things disintegrate. There is a fascinating psychological theory on why these “approach-avoidance” reactions occur. People are inherently ego-preserving and achievement often brings change. The ego—or the self—resists change. We are more comfortable staying the same, even if a change would be positive. As you come closer to your goal the negative feelings about the changes that will have to be made become more significant, and you unconsciously begin to back away or sabotage yourself. For other people, self-doubt, fear of success, and feelings of unworthiness may also be playing a role.

MJF: What’s next for you?

SK: I have no idea. Keep working, keep creating, keep thinking–it has served me well so far!

Sean Kenniff’s Healthapalooza.com is a website where you can find the hottest stories about health, diet, fitness, medicine and sex. It’s a news aggregate website with a healthy sense of humor.

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