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Self Help, it is an amazingly wonderful industry. The idea that we can learn, grow and feel better about our lives and become happier through reading a book or listening to a lecture is wonderful. However, I know for myself and people who enjoy exploring the Self Help world we can get stuck in unhealthy patterns and beliefs for the sake of being a better human being.
Every now and then I will run into a person, an acquaintance, a client even myself from time to time and I will think ‘yep, that is a case of self-help run amuck’.
For me, the phrase “Self-help run amuck” is defined as someone who means well, has good intentions but has grabbed on to one or self-help concepts and twisted them to mean they aren’t enough. Here are some examples.
There is a right way…I just need to figure it out. There is no right way. There are countless ways to do it. What may be the right way for you isn’t the right way for someone else. Frequently when we are looking for the RIGHT way, it is a sign of fear paralysis. We don’t want to make any moves until we know the right move, which usually leaves us stuck.
If I think happy I will be happy. Fill in the blank here. This concept is specifically The Secret, gone amuck. We have been told we need to pay attention to our thoughts, if we intend it then it will come. So think positively and you will feel better. Now, I agree, there are times we let ourselves get stuck in negative thoughts, negative patterns and we need to change those thoughts into more positive thinking. AND there are times that we have real pain that we need to deal with. Yes, while I definitely believe when we think happier we are happier, I also believe we have to put a little work into being happy. The idea that if I think about $100 it will suddenly appear in my mailbox, is HIGHLY unlikely.
I need to accept people where they are. This one is frequently where I think people go amuck. Yes, I fully believe that we need to accept people where they are. In fact, one of my life mottos is ‘they are doing the best they can with what they have’ AND that doesn’t mean I need to put up with abusive, negative or hurtful behavior. Accepting someone for who they are and what they are coping with and the pain they are in doesn’t mean I have to take that pain on, be hurt by their pain. Accepting someone for where they are also includes knowing your own boundaries.
I need to be genuine and honest with everyone. I would like to add the words, with wisdom to this sentence. So it would actually read, I need to be genuine and honest with everyone, using wisdom. Yes, I believe we need to be grounded and authentic in our lives…but not everyone in this world is safe. So we need to have a little wisdom around with which we share our authentic selves. We can still be genuine and authentic without baring our souls. We can still own our space, be aware of our insecurity and take care of ourselves without opening ourselves up to people who don’t get it and won’t understand. Wisdom to create appropriate boundaries is key.
Bottom line, the goal of self-help is to feel less angst, be in pain less frequently and learn how to interact in the world from a place of grounded authenticity. Basically, the goal is to Live Happier. The goal is not to beat ourselves up, open ourselves up to unnecessary pain and feel like we are doing it wrong. Wake up each morning, and be the best you possible, bring awareness to your pain, notice your mistakes and move forward making amends as necessary. Self-help is a wonderful space to start learning about ourselves.
Real growth begins when we can enter the world and interact with loving-kindness with ourselves and those around us. And when we struggle with that task, having curiosity around why and attempting to learn better for the future. So give yourself a break. You ARE doing the best you can with what you have, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Do you notice self-help running amuck in your life? What are some ‘self-help’ ideas that you struggle with? How has self help saved you?