Monday, July 2, 2012

Self-Help: Is It Really Helping?


The self-help industry is huge. New books are constantly coming out, each one holding the promise for a better life. I’ve read so many self-help books over the last few years, and I realized that they’re not actually that helpful! Sure, I get momentarily inspired and I get some new ideas, but I often wonder if they’ve really made a difference in my life.
I recently heard about a study that was done with two groups of people who wanted to lose weight. The first group was told the program would be easy, and the second group was told it would be challenging. Surprisingly, the group that knew the program would be challenging lost a significantly higher amount of weight than the other group! This struck a chord with me. Many of the books I’ve read have led me to believe that once I followed the steps that were laid out, I would be set for life. I wouldn’t have any more problems and I’d be living happily ever after on Easy Street. It’s amazing that I actually believed this would happen!
The results of that study, combined with the insights I’ve gained from reading The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, have showed me that it’s okay to come across obstacles and difficulties sometimes. It’s not a disaster if something doesn’t work out the way you planned or if something goes wrong. I’ve found it empowering to face a new challenge with the knowledge that I can absolutely handle it, and that there’s something of value in the experience. I’ve been realizing how vast my inner strength is and how much wisdom I have within me. I’ve also realized that in the long run, it’s actually more painful to avoid uncomfortable or challenging situations.
I’ve been playing with the idea of jumping into new experiences wholeheartedly with a true sense of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is basically a strong belief in your own competence. It’s such a simple concept, but it’s so powerful.
I recently got a new job. I had been out of work for a while, and honestly I was feeling a little out of the loop. On my first day, I was really nervous, but I decided to just be fully present in the moment and remember my own competence. Things have been going well, and I encounter different challenges every day, but I no longer see them in a negative way. Now I’ve started to see these challenges as opportunities to draw upon my own inner wisdom and use the strength that I know is within me!
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of all time:
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
--Patanjali
Hopefully these insights have sparked some inspiration in you and maybe you’ll wake up some of those dormant forces!


You can also read my article here: http://islaorganic.com/self-help-is-it-really-helping/

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