Wednesday / July 13 / 2011
Why “self-help” makes you squirm: we need to be kinder to ourselves
Ever walk into a bookstore, be told the title you’re looking for can be found in the self-help section, only to feign some sentiment about how much your dear friend will appreciate they have it in stock?
What’s the big deal about seeking self-help? Why does it have such a negative connotation? Why do I squirm when I think about the book I’m writing — my book — ending up in the “Self-Help Section”? Is it because when we hear “self-help”, we think, “weak”, “needy” or “babysitter needed”?
Time to get over ourselves. There’s strength in vulnerability. And I’m not just talking about books… they’re just scratching the surface.
The problem is that “help” is an antiquated term that means desperate — especially when preceded by “self”. I know you want to feel like you have everything under control. But you don’t. And PS… you shouldn’t.
I like how Rachel Held Evans discusses it in her post, “On being kinder to ourselves“. She cites a great ‘for instance’ of finding herself in need of a nap but disallowing herself to take one, calling the luxury ‘wasted time’. But then when her friend posts on Facebook about taking a much-needed nap, her first instinct is to write an encouraging, “good-for-you” comment.
Day after day, issue after issue, we deprive ourselves because we don’t want to risk vulnerability — all the while happily helping our friends who’ve been brave enough (read: smart enough) to expose theirs (which by the way, we’d label ‘hypocrisy’ in any other situation.) Ah, yes, the ongoing battle between self-love and selfishness.
We spend so much time justifying why don’t need to help ourselves or seek help, that we neglect to recognize we deserve to. Who cares in which section a book is located? If mine’s in the “Self Help Section”, I’m planning to announce it to the world. Heck, that’s precisely where I’ve found many of the books from which I gleaned “a ha” moments.
It’s self-discovery. And self-discovery is a journey. When you stop growing or seeking to be a better “you”, you better be dead! It’s time to stop squirming and start taking Rachel’s advice. Befriend yourself. Be kind to you. FOLLOW the advice you give your dearest friends. Start right now. You deserve it.