The only person who can provide you with self-help is you.
This should come as no surprise. Yet as someone who has both studied, worked with, practiced, and now ultimately shares ideas for self-help, it never ceases to amaze me how much people don’t realize the main factor in any self-help practice.
Self. Help. As in, you use the tools and ideas provided to help yourself.
There are a lot of things about self-help that I have noticed seem to trip people up. Some comes from vast amounts of money people will spend on self-help ideas. Others come from thinking self-help is strictly a lone process.
Factors of self-help
There are, I believe, some key factors to keep in mind when it comes to real self-help.
· Self-help teachers and gurus do not have the answers. This is really important to recognize. They have idea, concepts, suggestions, and in some cases step-by-step instructions, but they DO NOT have the answers. This is because the only one who has the answers is you.
· Self-help comes in different forms and formats. There are any number of ways to practice self-help. Some are pretty out there, while others are practical. For me, at least, combining aspects of more than one concept have proven most effective.
· Sometimes self-help involves getting help from others. Maybe you come to see that you need therapy. Or an antidepressant or antianxiety drug. Perhaps you need a meditation or yoga teacher. You might need a coach or mentor of some sort. These are still aspects of self-help, because you are using them to help you.
· Self-help is an ongoing process. Improving your life, whatever form that might be taking, is never a one-and-done action. Partially because life is constantly in a state of change, in part because your desires and goals may change, and because we are always growing, learning, and evolving along the way.
As the human race has complicated its existence, we have tended to disconnect rather than connect more. When life was simpler, that which brought us satisfaction was simpler, too.
Complicating the simple causes distress
There was a time when the human race found satisfaction in far simpler things. Before we were globally interconnected, and we were able to see the lives of those who have both more and less than we do, we knew just our own little slice of reality.
As we have gained a broader understanding of the rest of the world around us, we have lost touch with the simplicity of our own needs. I believe part of this is due to salesmanship in messages of lack and scarcity, where we come to believe we need things that, truthfully, we probably don’t.
We add layers of complexity where they do not need to be.
Let me illustrate this by borrowing from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Once upon a time the secret of alchemy was written on a single emerald — known as the Emerald Tablet. Rather than accept this simple explanation for the workings of the universe, which is the truth alchemy seeks, great minds wrote out long, encoded, complex formulas for alchemical practice. They rejected the simplicity of the idea because they put too much thought and insufficient feeling into their practice.
Modern society does this a lot. We have tons of ideas and other thoughts, but feelings? We tend to ignore or deny those.
This, I believe, is why we have such a need for self-help. We have taken a skewed view of feelings and emotions, because we have gotten bogged down in thoughts and ideas. Conscious reality creation, that which forms the reality of our lives, requires thought AND feeling. But we have begun to shun being a feeling society.
Now, to add insult to injury, we are also shunning being a thinking society, too. Is it any wonder we need so many forms of therapy and psychopharmacological drugs?
Recognizing the need for help for the self
It is important to acknowledge that we need help. There is a stigma attached to mental health that does not belong.
Many more people deal with mental health issues than don’t. I can’t tell you how many people I know who deal with anxiety, depression, or both. They seek many different means to find peace, and stay on an even footing.
Every one of us is perfectly imperfect. Recognizing and acknowledging this can help us work together to help ourselves, as well as each other. In my practice of offering self-help tips, I make no promises, and I certainly offer no guarantees. I have ideas that I myself have worked with, and practices that can increase your ability to help yourself.
What matters is that you, and you alone, know what you need. This is because the only person inside your head is you. Only you know how you feel, what you feel, how and what you think, and how you act as such. Any choices to make changes, and self-help you seek to move those forward, are yours to be made.
This of course brings us to another conflict. The notion of selfishness. Things that are not truly selfish are called such in our society these days. Worse, guilt and shame combine to complicate our practices.
So what can we do about this? How can we make self-help more effective?
It all begins with you
This is not easy. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. But putting these into practice can help. I am working with this myself, and I have good days and bad days, too. But, if sharing these insights help you help yourself, more power to you.
Practice mindfulness. Pause and ask yourself “What am I thinking?” “What/how and I feeling?” Really ask these questions, because doing so brings you into the now, and makes you aware.
Judge others less. It is super-easy to get mad at the person who cuts you off on the road. Likewise, we judge people for their poor decisions, false opinions, and many other things we differ on. Does this help you in any way? No. In fact, being judgmental of others distracts you from your own thoughts, feelings, and actions.
This is one of the bigger issues I am working on. I get pretty judgy about how certain people act, and in realizing that just distracts me from my own work, I am striving to lessen this.
Don’t sacrifice. Because you might fear being judged for being selfish in practicing self-help, you might choose to sacrifice. It doesn’t really matter what you are sacrificing, whether its material or immaterial, this doesn’t help. In fact, sacrifice tends to make you feel bad, because in going without you get more easily upset.
Sacrifice is a lack mentality. There is not enough, so I must do without doesn’t feel good. This tends to cause the need for MORE self-help, in fact.
Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. While being less judgmental of others, you shouldn’t worry about how you are judged. What anyone else thinks of you is not all that important. You can’t live your life for the approval of others.
You are worthy
You deserve to live the best, fullest, must amazing life possible. This is why it is important to acknowledge that you are worthy and deserving of your self-help goals.
There are any number of mixed messages from our society that can cause you to believe that you are NOT worthy or deserving of achieving the best that you can. These are simply not true.
Nobody deserves to live in poverty, to be crapped upon by anyone, to be denied rights for any differences tangible or intangible, or to be made to feel otherwise unworthy. However differently we may think, however we perceive reality dissimilarly, we all still deserve the things we desire to achieve for our lives.
So long as nothing you are doing denies anyone ELSE the same, because we are not in competition here, you are worthy of succeeding. Your self-help practices are worthy of achieving your goals, and you deserve to feel complete, happy, and successful.
Breathe deep. Resist the fear, anxiety, and other negatives, seek assistance where you need it, and help yourself to the life you desire most. You are worthy and deserving of it. Self-help is a worthwhile, and frankly necessary practice. Keep that in mind as you go to it.