Hi, I’m Sheryl… and I’m a Self-Help Junkie.
So was Marianne Power. In the midst of her addiction, she tried something crazy-sauce (which nobody – but me – says anymore but should!). She took an armful of her fave self-help books and determined to spend a year actually *doing what they said*. The experience and results are documented in her book, “Help Me” (Subtitle: My Perfectly Disastrous Journey through the World of Self-Help).
First of all, I laughed. A lot. Humor is sooooo important when discussing self-help, which is why I’ve tried to keep a thread of it woven through this entire blog. Power is laugh-out-loud funny and honest. Her work is also thought-provoking. It’s one of my newer books (2018) and a keeper.
The first time the “ah-ha, yep, I hear ya” face occurred was only 9 pages in. And, I quote:
“Why did I read self-help if it didn’t, well, help?”
Can I just stop a mo and direct your attention to the “…if it didn’t, well, help?” bit which is written just as I would say and write it? Seriously, this is a woman after my own heart!
“Like eating chocolate cake or watching old episodes of Friends,” she says, “I read self-help for comfort. These books acknowledged the insecurities and anxieties I felt but was always too ashamed to talk about.”
Well, okay, I talk about mine here. I do! But let me go on…
“They made my personal angst seem like a normal part of being human. Reading them made me feel less alone.“
BINGO! In fact, it’s the entire reason this blog EXISTS.
To be less alone…
In one of my old blogs I talked extensively of having witnesses. I haven’t talked about it much in this blog, which honestly surprises me.
I’m trying to think of how to explain this…
(Know that I typed and erased at least a half dozen attempts!)
Nobody wants to be ignored or feel misunderstood. <<< That feels so simplistic but it’s as close as I can get to what I’m trying to say.
One way to accomplish that is to have witnesses. Someone to commiserate with, who understands because *they were there*. And really, that’s the saddest part of getting older and losing people. Gone are the witnesses – going both ways, of course. I truly feel this is a universal need… to be heard and understood. But yes, I digress. Kind of.
So, back to the book…
Power decided to follow one book or guru a month:
- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers*
- Money, a Love Story by Kate Northrup
- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne*
- F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way by John C. Parkin
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey*
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Get the Guy by Matthew Hussey
- Daring Greatly by Brene´ Brown*
- You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay*
(* Books I have written about on this blog. Links go to my posts.)
Note to self: I haven’t written about ANY Eckhart Tolle books??!! Seriously? I read them! I guess I got rid of them somewhere along the line. Why did I do that? I mean, who doesn’t like Eckhart Tolle? Weird. Huh. Also, need to look into the others that aren’t **. There I go again, digesssin’.
In the three months that didn’t have books, Power studied Tony Robbins, Doreen Virtue* and something called, “Rejection Therapy, with Jason Comely”.
Every chapter is filled with stories about what it takes to actually do what is being asked … some funny, some deep, some angry, if I’m being very honest. Also honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever – except for The Artist’s Way – done everything that’s listed in any of my self-help books.
In the chapter about coming down with a bug and letting mum take care of her, Power brings up the thorn in self-help’s side and it’s a doozie:
In Self-Help Land, a bug is never just a bug. There is always something happening, some sort of deep-rooted emotional or psychological cause.
Indeed! And, she spells it all out, too…
The Secret says this. Tony Robbins says that. Louise Hay, the matriarch of modern self-help and the connection with health says, well… a whole bunch of stuff.
As I sat there reading, I was almost embarrassed. Seriously.
In the end, Power’s asks herself, “Was my sickness my body’s sign that all this thinking about myself was not good for me?”
As you can see, she brings up another point: A little narcissism, anyone? I mean, “Self” is in the title of “Self-Help,” isn’t it?
When all was said and done, Power shares her final thoughts on whether self-help works. Spoiler alert: Yes. Also, No. You’re welcome.
Let me just say: This book brought out the best in self-help and I love it!
If I’ve teased you into buying it… my job is done. It’s a great book for the quintessential self-help collection. Or just because.
One final note: Power’s conclusion includes another word I’ve mentioned many times around here: Enough. As in: You are ENOUGH. I love that and wanted to include it here.
Also, I want you to know: You are enough.
I am here and so are you. We are witnessing each other. Each of us is enough. Perfect!