Let’s face it — the idea of self-help has been hacked to pieces for many people.
It’s like being in a sudden deluge of rain. You were soaked to the bone after a few seconds — but it continues to inundate you.
A lot of people get frustrated with all the notions of self-help. In time, it goes from the simple idea that you are capable of working on your inner being and its depths to an all-encompassing do-or-die expectation.
More than once, someone has become irked with me for suggesting self-help ideas. And I get that. It becomes like background chatter — just one of many notions for how to live.
When you are coping with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, the constant reminders of self-help start to feel disingenuous, patronizing, and infuriating. More than once I’ve heard it said or implied, “Don’t you think if I could help myself here, I’d not be in this situation?”
I get it. Also, I know that sometimes I can seem preachy with all the self-helpery I share. My notions of mindfulness, conscious reality creation, and positivity to help your self begin to sound and feel like all the rest of the noise.
Let’s face it — many of the self-help gurus are hacks. They come from privilege, they only share so much without extracting cash from you, and they spout platitudes and overused lines without offering more than that. I think there is still value to many of these people — but you need to disseminate it from the whole.
I am taking a new approach. You know how you can help yourself. You don’t need me to beat you over the head with it. Instead, I am offering encouragement.
You, your self, and getting help
There are some important factors to take into consideration when it comes to you and your state of being. These include:
- You are the only one inside your head, heart, and soul
- The only person who can think and feel for you is you
- If you do not desire help — you won’t accept or take help
- Help only offers suggestions. You decide how to use them — or not
- You have ultimate control of your emotions
Many aspects of our society tell you an intangible something out there is the key to solving anything. When you feel lonely, find a friend or lover. If you feel empty, look for something outside of yourself to fill the void. When you are in a bad situation, don’t be accountable — blame someone/something else.
As I’ve written before, I believe that the answers to the ultimate questions are already within us, forged in our being offshoots of Universal source energy. But over time, we’ve stopped turning inwards and almost exclusively looked outside ourselves for the answers to the nagging questions.
The Answers to the Great Questions are Within Us
The answers to the questions of life, the Universe, and everything lie within us — not without.
The idea of self-help is literal. You are the only one who can, ultimately, be — and help — you. Nobody else is in your head, heart, or soul — no matter how much you might give them access.
That, to many people, is extremely lonely. Because of that feeling of deep loneliness, we long to connect. So, we turn without — and seek help from outside of ourselves.
Self-help is supposed to be the recognition of how, even with outside assistance, you’re the one applying mindfulness, conscious reality creation, and positivity in your life. Or not.
Yet, like a child being told “NO” constantly, having self-help shoved down your throat creates resistance. Resistance often prevents us from doing what’s necessary or best for us.
Encouragement to help yourself
Instead of harping on the idea of self-help to help yourself, I am beginning to apply a new idea. Encouragement.
Given that I cannot, ultimately, help you — all I can do is offer encouragement. That can come in many forms — from basic cheerleading to asking leading questions to offering ideas that you may — or may not — apply.
When I see you doing something awesome, working hard, achieving something, I can and will offer my support and congratulate you. That, hopefully, will encourage you to keep at it.
If you are faced with a situation of uncertainty, and it makes you indecisive, I can ask questions to help you ask yourself things to get you moving. For example, to help you get in touch, here and now, with your inner being — your mindset/headspace/psyche self — I can ask questions like:
When you ask these questions of yourself, that makes you consciously aware. And then, guess what? You are practicing practical mindfulness.
When you choose to read the articles I share about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and the like — you get to decide how they apply to you. Or not. The choice to make use of them is entirely up to you.
Since I cannot, truly, help you — what I recognize that I can do is encourage you. That is why I am altering my approach from presenting self-help to self-encouragement.
Because while I can encourage you to make pushes, try new things, and do stuff that takes you outside of your comfort zone — sometimes you need to find encouragement within yourself, too. As someone outside of you, my encouragement will hopefully help you encourage yourself. That, hopefully, leads to more self-encouragement.
Self-encouragement is active
Finally — the idea of help tends to be passive. You get suggestions and ideas that are flabby, lacking in applicability, vague, and infuriating. Encouragement, on the other hand, is active.
Help is to try. Encouragement is to do. Thus, in the words of Yoda,
“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”
Yes, I recognize that helping you move a couch is an act. But that’s helping rather than help. Help is me suggesting you should move the couch to a better position in the room. Encouragement is me stepping in and helping you move the damned thing.
Encouragement usually feels good. Offering help can feel bad. Encouragement takes a tone of “ YES! I see what you are doing! Let me cheer you on to keep going!” Whereas help takes a ton of “ I see you have a problem. Since you are stuck, let me suggest this, that, or the other thing.”
Sometimes help is unsolicited — and that can be infuriating. It can be even more maddening when the suggestion is that you have the power to fix the problem — even a problem like anxiety and depression that feels insurmountable. Thus, the response is often, “You’re not me — you don’t understand — so you can’t help me.”
That’s true. I can’t help you. But I can encourage you. And my encouragement can lead you to self-encouragement. Since the choices and decisions belong to you alone — finding encouragement in yourself to make them gets them made.
Thus, going forward, I will be focusing on self-encouragement rather than self-help. In my ongoing quest to encourage people to live the best, fullest lives they can — and my acts to do so for myself — I am actively offering encouragement rather than help.
I believe in you!
What does self-encouragement look like to you?
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, the philosophy of choosing and walking your path, and similar life lessons.
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Originally published at https://titaniumdon.com on May 12, 2021.