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Self-Care: How Much Self-Help Information Do You Need Before You Start Making Changes?

For most of my life, I’ve been a purveyor of self-help knowledge. As a young child, I was always interested in how people transformed their lives. My favorite types of character arcs in film and readings have been those who desire to become better after the challenges they have faced. These characters, through challenges and will, reinvented themselves. Often, it was easy for them but they endured. There were those characters that created their problems, but they learned and managed to bring about the change they needed. I would reading the biographies and obituaries of some famous people who also reflected the same themes and outcomes. One of my intentions was to determine how their life lessons would apply to my life. How could I make the best use of their experiences in my life? As a teenager and adult, I would continue these preferences along with being a consumer of the ever-expanding self-help industry. Honestly, I was motivated at first, but then no transformation.

Like many other industries, the self-help sector goes through its cycles of new trends or fads, a rediscovery or resurgence of older strategies, and the occasional debunking of ineffective methods and their proponents. When bookstores were plentiful or when I traveled often for work, and passing through airports, I remember feeling excited when I came across new or old published self-help book that I had yet to read. I was excited because I would think to myself, "This might help me make the change I need. "The answer that I am looking for might be in this book." When I would find that nugget of enlightening information, I would say things like, “This is what I was looking for,” and “Now I can make the changes that I need to grow, to be different.” Many times, I had failed attempts or my motivation would just fizzle, and the book would be added to my self-help collection. Things were missing that needed to go along with the self-help knowledge, if I was going to create some real change in my life.

Self-help content whether through books and now through social media content is plentiful and inexpensive but if you are missing the catalyst and the fuel, change is going to be difficult. Without the fuel and catalyst, self-help content becomes nothing more than an addiction to the excitement of the possibility for your change. Later, you allow your motivation and your effort to dissipate. You come across the next batch of self-help content, the cycle begins again, you enjoy the excitement, and no change occurs. The reasons for this cycle will vary from individual to individual but the result will likely be the same feeling, the loss of excitement we first experienced at the exposure to the self-help content, and no change. How do we stop this cycle? It’s all on us because we are the catalyst and the fuel.

Our catalyst reflects the change or goals we want to achieve and our fuel is our motivation. We have all that we need it just requires our sustained effort. I did not have a full grasp of this until I watch a YouTube video with Sadhguru, an Indian guru. I am paraphrasing here, as he mentions the knowledge you have acquired to get you motivated to change is like a car, you start it and you keep it on, you don’t turn it off, you keep going. We’ve got the information we need now it’s up to us to start moving forward. We don’t need to get another burst of self-help content to restart ourselves. Sure, you can add new knowledge along the way but you are up and running. You don’t need to stop. You just have to accept hard work is part of the process. If you have setbacks, you learn, and you’re still running, moving one step closer towards your goals. There should be no judgment of yourself, if you think you need to experience more self-help content to get you restarted. You may feel the need to attend another motivational conference. I just want to create an awareness of what already exists within you.

I always like to remind my readers about taking advice. I’ve made some suggestions for you to consider. I’ve shared things that have worked for me. More importantly, I’ve shared things that will hopefully evoke you into being your problem solver. If something doesn’t work for you, please resolve that there will be something that works for you. It requires your discovery. The life journey you are on is unique to you and so should be the solutions you discover.

David is the owner of Partnerships for a personal transformational coaching company

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