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Self-Help "Experts" Not Using Advices They Give to Others
"Those Who Can't---Teach"
"Most people who come for an advice from others have already resolved to act as it pleases them." ---- Unknown
I don't know if I have been more liked or secretly hated in matters of personal improvement, but I know for sure that not so many of those sufferers-turned-experts that I have met on my long life journey had a field day with me.
Whether they played marriage experts, nutritionists, happiness gurus, peace achievers or whatever, they must have felt at least unconsciously uncomfortable with the fact that I was displaying a living example of what they were only preaching about.
So, an obese dude would teach me about nutrition, and a nervous and hateful dudesse would criticize me for not looking for inner peace in religion instead of my meditation. My late father, with a life long smoking addiction was enlightening me about benefits of vitamin C, and a bickering couple tried to convince me how they argued only "out of love".
I also heard a lot about spirituality from those who had a sizeable ego not really being an advertisement for it, with a mind cluttered with emotional junk, with no trace of a self-discipline to take care of it.
It seems like everybody wants to be an expert, especially in those matters of health, whether mental or physical. In my other article ("Psychology: an Interpretive Art Posing as an Exact Science") I even dared to question the credibility of some big names in the field of mental health---using this same yardstick of how much their much-acclaimed expertise was actually helping them with their own mental issues.
So, my question of this article is: before we claim that some self-help modality is useful or just a waste of time---could we actually give it a decent try, with a hope that once we do it, the whole field of self-help might open up with some true opportunities for our desired change.
Our Own Commitment Needed
"I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman 'Where is the self-help section?' She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose." ---- George Carlin
Let us make it clear that the so called self-help field is not merely about fixing any of those "light-weight" emotional issues.
Like, in my own case, it has been about self-improvement rather than self-help, since even when we are feeling relatively comfortable in our own skin, there is always a room for making it better.
Working on myself is the only thing that I can advertise here, while hoping that the reader would find something inspiring, not "curative" in my views which worked for me, and then do the same---work on themselves.
This should be the main tenet of this kind of expertise---not playing a shrink or a guru to anybody, telling them what is good for them. This for a very simple reason that we only know ourselves, and by exploring more of ourselves through someone's inspirational story we may take steps to make ourselves better.
This is where self-help literature, CD's and seminars may turn out to be either effective or not---whether the messages they carry are faithfully heeded or abandoned as soon as the initial inspiration is gone.
When people treat it like an exciting movie or a book which soon gets replaced with something else to entertain us, then the aim of self-help is completely missed. After all, isn't it called "self"-help suggesting exactly that?
Philosophizing about those helpful ideas at parties or with friends over a coffee may be a nice theme for a conversation, but don't we hear so much of it around without really seeing some shining examples in so many of those who propagate it?
As for me, improving myself is not a matter of seeking an end result but rather enjoying in the process. Like riding a bike I have to keep pedaling while enjoying the ride, or else I'll tip over if I stop it, and then it becomes just a routine of surviving, by my views a stagnation.
Outdoing the person that we used to be a year ago is a noble, if not the noblest of them all goals in life. For, don't you think that we have too many critics about those world affairs parading around with their expertise---while they are not really doing anything to make their own act a little cleaner?
"Not Seeing a Tree for the Forest"
"One is fruitful only at a cost of being rich in contradictions" ---- Friedrich Nietzsche
Self-help is one of those typical genres where an aspirant is bound to get blinded by an incredible variety of approaches---and that by itself would not pose a problem if only so many of them were not contradicting one another.
No matter which of those many self-help modalities you pick, you are bound to find some equally credible and logical advices saying the opposite thing. What many people miss about it is the fact of our psycho-physical individuality---meaning that what may work for one person may be useless, or even counterproductive for another.
Let's see some of the examples of those key-messages at the bottom line of their approaches.
"Go back to your childhood experiences and dig out the root of your present emotional problem". Sounds great, doesn't it? Whole schools related to psychoanalysis are based on it, and how could they possibly be wrong?
Well, it all depends on the person, because it's a statistical fact that psychoanalysis is not doing really well. See for yourself why this may be the case, as we are presenting the opposite, equally credible slogan of therapy:
"Let the dead dogs lie. Don't irritate those old wounds, for, whatever you are giving your attention to---grows". You got it? So, choose what intuitively appeals more to you.
Another pair of opposites: "Sweat it out in exercise, it's an accumulated nervous energy that can't escape from your system".
And its opposite: "Relax your troubles away. Meditate, listen to some mellow music". You see what I mean?
In the field of nutrition we may really go nuts while trying to find right diet or supplements for us---after we have adopted a philosophy about "you are what you are eating", which, by the way may be right or completely wrong for our type of personal issues.
I would need another couple of articles to present a decent bunch of opposites in that particular field---and something is telling me that you could make a huge list of them by yourself.
"Eat meat---and don't!...eat veggies and fruits---and don't!...eat fats---and don't!...take supplements---and don't...and so on until we get dizzy with that garden variety of all-knowing experts in yet another business of selling their "being different and original".
The same applies---don't junk the whole idea of eating right just because there is so much confusion generated by experts---choose for yourself what really works best for you.
This Time With Love
"The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom." ---- Isaac Asimov
People fail at all those many enlightening and therapeutic procedures for the single reason of not unconsciously believing that they deserve that desired change. They are way too much into their life-story, their past and their future, and too little present in their now-and-here where all life is only happening.
So their spirit-for-change gets hijacked by all those traumatic memories of the past and concerns about their future. That get's further complicated by the rebellion of their nature which is goal-oriented, now-oriented, and while there are no doable instructions coming from that mess of the past and the future, their inner computer produces "emotional glitches", as I call them.
From the spiritual perspective it's a problem of what we identify ourselves with. Are we that illusory and done-with past ourselves, or that equally illusory self of the future---or we can ground ourselves in this now and here and produce some of that love that we owe to ourselves since our babyhood.
So, it was useless to all those aspirants of personal change to intellectually ingest all that material because it never fell on a fertile soil of self-love and self-appreciation.
We made it our life mission to please our parents, our bosses and spouses, our country, and our gods, neglecting that little child in us and just demanding from them to change. Didn't we sound to them just like our early educators who showed displeasure with us and kept slapping us with their Manifesto of Appropriate.
Well, with these few words I tried to inspire all those preachers-not-practitioners to make a humble inventory of their own spiritual lot, and to filter out all that's only a wishful self-deception.
An honest look inside may be all that's needed to revamp that "New Age mumbo-jumbo"---which is often a downgrading nick name for self-help genre---but this time around make it useful and effective.