As you know, I moved recently. And I moved all of my many self help books – heavy. (OK, I paid someone to carry them…) I moved them not because I want to read them again, but because I want to remember where I’ve been and enjoy my freedom from the self help aisle! When I entered into an awareness that I could transform myself and the world around me, I no longer needed to search for answers in a book.
I’m not saying there isn’t value in self help books, there is. And I will not be surprised to have my own writing shelved there some day. But here is what I know: self help didn’t help me, really. I’ve got three reasons that pop to mind for that.
First, self help was a stubborn approach for me, because I was very unwilling to let any human being actually help me – it was safe to seek answers from behind the pages. This was part of my personal ‘growth opportunity.’ In order to truly grow I needed to become willing to be vulnerable and open to being supported. Because having the answers my SELF was part of my ongoing, ego-driven story.
Secondly, reading a book at home alone can certainly give you new ideas, but can’t transform your view. And a well-written book which contains lots of stories and examples can certainly allow you to see things about yourself that you’ve never seen before to a limited extent. But every word we read, even the words you are reading right now, is entering our conscious mind through our subconscious filters. We are always applying our personal perspective to what we read, and our filters will generally not allow us to see ourselves in a new light, it will read like more of the same. It is important to find someone outside of our own experience to help us see our blind spots. This was (and is) critical for me.
Third, when I was seeking answers in the self help aisle, I was coming from the wrong place, or at least an inaccurate one. I felt as if there was something wrong with me, and I was seeking to find the answers to how to fix myself. Sometimes I’d disguise this as trying to “find myself” or “discover myself,” but in truth I thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t figure out what I was suppose to do with my life. Sound familiar? I had a new client tell me yesterday, “fix me.” This is my favorite statement from which to educate. When I finally stepped away from the self help aisle, I had learned to recognize that there was actually nothing wrong with me, there were just certain views and beliefs I had picked up in my life that had me BELIEVE there was something wrong with me. When I changed my beliefs, to actually love the person that I am, I was ‘fixed.’ With nothing else to do. And suddently it no longer mattered whether I was an ENFP or an INTJ, a blue, red, yellow or green, or a strong “D” with an “I” on the side… OR the color of my parachute. I knew what was important to me, because I now valued it, and I began to trust that I could discern from there.
It is still a process as I grow myself and my business, yet that knowing that I can trust myself and my own inner guidance is permanent. I still read, but my the titles of my books have a happier tone today – less striving – and I am reading to spark ideas from within, and to appreciate the broad range of ideas that human beings have to share. I no longer read in desperate search for an answer from outside of me that will repair my wounded self.
Where are you in your journey of “self help?” Are you ready to step away from the self help aisle? Have you already stepped away and come back stronger? Or will you bypass it altogether?