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Moving From Self Help To Self Reliance

How to overcome your addiction to self help information, learn to rely on your own inner wisdom and think creatively for yourself...

This article addresses an increasingly common problem: the addiction to self help and personal development books, tapes and seminars (and websites!). Over the last 20 years, the personal development field has just mushroomed spawning thousands of books, systems, psychologies, and a myriad of gurus and teachers. More and more people have gotten turned on to the idea that they can change and improve their lives, learn about themselves and develop more meaningful lives. It's great to explore and learn about new ideas, and get fresh imput into your mind space -- but it is also important to use that information, internalise it and allow your own authority and wisdom to flourish. It's important to develop self reliance.

Are you a self help junkie? Are you a personal development nut job with bookshelves bulging with Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, and Stephen Covey? Is the glove compartment in your car swollen with Nightingale Conant tapes? Have you feng shui-ed your office, got a shrine in your bedroom, and stashed written affirmations in your purse or wallet? There's a whole world of hot and hokey self help information out there for you to throw yourself head over heels into -- and it will knock you inside out, upside down, and back to front before you know it. What a rush!

The Self Help Junkie
I should know -- I've been 'smoking' this stuff since I was about 12 years old. Hoowee! I've meditated with gurus, been given secret mantras, and been initiated in sacred rites in mysterious midnight rituals. I've read books by the bucketload, listened to tapes till my ears bled, and rolled a hundred thousand different idea systems through the old brain box. And you know what? I still want more!! Gimme more!

If you've dabbled in eastern mysticism, mixed in some new age philosophies and therapies, learnt about goal setting and the law of attraction, and are fluent in the terminology of half a dozen different systems for life improvement, then you are part of an ever growing group: the personal development lovers.

You are obsessed by the latest books to hit the self help section. You furtively root around checking out the spiritual, psychic, new age sections of Borders or Barnes and Noble. Amazon serve you up a recommended reading list that might have been made for Louise Hay herself!

Is this you? Are you the crazy mo-fo spending hundreds of dollars on 24 CD super systems or flying across the country to attend endless workshops, seminars and retreats? Too many people get caught up in an endless cycle of reading just another self help book, going to yet another personal development seminar, and they never move on. They put their trust in gurus and lose touch with their own inner authority and wisdom.

The Stress Of Conflicting Ideas
Until fairly recently, my office was heaving with years worth of books and audio programs devoted to self improvement, spiritual development, wisdom, success and attracting what you want in your life. You know what? It was getting oppressive. I like to have several books on the go at once, listen to CDs while bathing or driving, and surf the net to 'see what's out there today'. And what I found is that I would get completely lost -- because I would be straddling several different paradigms or belief systems in a day. One guru would be saying this, another guru would be saying something completely different. This book would set your mind going one way. This audio program would pull it another. It's a recipe for craziness.

What did I do? I got all the self help books and tapes out of the office and stored them in the loft. I went on a mental diet -- no more personal development books, tapes or websites for a month -- just to break the habit. It was an experiment (I also gave up TV and newspapers, but that's another story). I wanted to let the dust settle and get back in touch with my own wisdom and intuition. Here's what I realised....

The Shadow Side of Self Help and Personal Development
There is much paradox in the world. And as creative beings, we have to learn to develop a certain tolerance for paradox. One paradox that you may not have considered is that self help and personal development ideas in books, tapes and seminars can make you 'weaker' than you were before you were exposed to them. It seems like an oxymoron to speak of the 'harm of self help', or the 'self destructive nature of personal development'. But hear me out will ya! I'm not talking about someone who is facing a specific problem and looks for a solution in a book, applies the solution, solves the problem, and moves on with their lives. I'm talking about the addict who feels that they are less than they should be and is endlessly looking to fill an inner void. This person has an unspecified problem -- in themselves -- and they never recognise the solution because they don't know what they are looking for ...and so they just go on looking outside of themselves hoping someone somewhere will help them heal their disquiet. That person is the nut job I am addressing!

The shadow side of this addiction to self help is that you come to rely less and less on your own good sense. By always looking for answers outside yourself you reinforce the idea that you are not creative or wise enough to come up with your own solutions. By constantly allowing other people to be the authority figures in your life, you undermine your own inner wisdom. By referring to self help books and tapes, you are sending your subconscious mind the subliminal idea that you are somehow 'broken' and need fixing.

The real you, the inner genius, is unbreakable. The wisest people that have ever lived, in all times and from all traditions, suggest that you are IT! You ARE the One! You are the same stuff as God, as Infinite Consciousness, as Infinite Intelligence. Your true awareness is undifferentiated and, at its core, part of one infinite being. And the more you come to trust in your own inner creative power, the more that you will see that is true. Your amazing intuition has 99% of the answers -- the other 1% you can find on Google! ;-)

Freedom From The Hypnosis Of Weakness and Need
It's time to break loose from your addiction to self help. Time to snap out of your craving for personal development. Time to re-discover your own internal wisdom. There's a navigator within that was built into you so that you could be a creative genius and live a really cool life! Let's turn on to your own inner authority and let that be your source of inspiration and guidance from now on.

Here's my ...ahem... "12 step recovery program" for self help addicts:

Step 1: Admit you're a self help junkie
Stand up in front of your computer. Hold your right hand over your heart, and raise your left hand. Now introduce yourself by saying, "Hi, My name is <your name>, and I am a self help addict!"

Make sure you do this now.

Have you done it?

You have?

Really, you did it?!!

What are you crazy?

(You don't have to do everything I say just because I am saying it.)

Let's get sensible.

Step 2: The "It's not even Lent" Fast 
Go on a fast and take a break from all self help and personal development material. Put away your books and tapes. Just do it and see what happens. If your immediate response is with a 'yeah, but...' that is a sign you need to do this. Come on, take a 30 day challenge, just to break the habit. See what happens.

Step 3: Keep a journal
This sounds a bit self-helpy I know. But bite me on the ass, what can I say, at least it will be your own thoughts and words going into the journal and not the aphorisms of Yogi Bogey The Benificent.

Step 4: Cut down on TV and News
This is generally just a great idea. It's gonna suck for a week or so if you are into TV, but it will help you tune into your Source much better. Otherwise you could just waste all that freetime when you would have been "developing yourself" (sounds like something you do with a penis pump, doesn't it?!) watching TV instead. Avoiding the news will cut out 80% of your worries, fears and distractions -- at least it does for me. You want to give your inner or higher self every opportunity to come forth. You are giving your genius some breathing space to express itself.

Step 5: Write down or record your dreams
If you give up TV, you are going to get a lot more interested in your dreams! Expect to have some wild night time adventures. You brain floods with powerful dream imagery every night that contains so much information and wisdom communicated from your deep inner mind. By writing it down, you let your inner self know that you are listening and that you consider its wisdom important. Don't refer to any hokey dream interpretation books. The dreams you have and their meanings are unique to you. What do YOU think they mean? I find it good to think of every person in the dream as reflecting an aspect or part of myself -- and I look for connections and symbolic meaning. Dreams are often metaphorical and you use your creative genius to figure out what it means to you. This builds powerful trust in your inner wisdom and empowers your intuition.

Step 6: Keep a notebook handy and jot down ideas
Image-streaming inventor, Win Wenger says that whatever you reinforce you get more of. So make sure you capture your ideas, observations and insights the moment they enter your head. This is a discipline, a habit you have to form. Try it out. Just keep jotting down the ideas that come to mind. This lets your creative mind know you are listening, and that you want more creativity, more wisdom. You will notice an upsurge in creative thought and insights.

Important Notice: Overcome your addiction

overcome addiction break free of the chains of addiction get free of addiction -- feel the joy of self-reliance

There is no light hearted aspect of alcohol addiction. Many who go through alcohol detox say it is a soul breaking process. If you are someone you know suffers from an addiction, contact a drug and alcohol rehab center in your area.



Step 7: Rediscover YOUR Passions
Get out and start doing 'real' things again. Concentrate on fun and enjoyment. Do what you love to do (besides going to seminars!). And make sure you try new things -- go to a dance class, visit a theme park and go on the rides, try new experiences and see where they lead you. This is all about rediscovering who you are and what YOU like free of all inner shoulds ('I should be loving, caring, sharing, meditating, affirming, yada yada yah!')

Step 8: Start passing on your wisdom
The trouble with self help addiction is that it ends up making you passive. You are always in a receptive, follower, disciple mode -- always holding out your begging bowl for more wisdom to be dropped into it. Turn it around. Start offering your own wisdom to others. You'll soon get the opportunity. Just offer your insights and thoughts on solving other peoples problems. Don't be pushy about it. No-one likes being preached too. But you can offer insight, intuitions, and your own accumulated wisdom. Let the inner guru (the 'gee you are you!') come out and start to speak. You'll be astonished that the greater wisdom lies within.

Step 9: Get creative!
Do something: build a website, write a book, make music, design a garden, whatever. Just get off the fence and start creating. Let your inner genius shine. Self help addicts and personal development junkies are always building towards some future when they will be 'good enough'. But that future never comes. You've got to accept that you are good enough right now -- you were born a genius (sure you may have smothered that bright spark with years of shit but its still there burning away!). Get off your duff and start creating something. It doesn't have to be earth shatteringly brilliant. Just the best you can offer right now. The freedom and thrill of creativity is the experience that you are looking for. It's when YOU start to shine and be your own creative power and authority.

Step 10: Clarify your P.o.L!
You've been chasing around reading, listening and watch the personal development gurus and masters preach their Philosophy of Life for success, fulfilment and happiness. Your mind is a mad maelstrom of competing philosophies, idea systems and paradigms. Call a time out! Let it all come screeching to a halt like a stopped record. Now, figure out or create YOUR Philosophy of Life. What beliefs are going to serve you best? Think up the best working paradigm you can up with and just decide you are going to 'run with that'.

Step 11: Aha, the Super 11:11 Secret!!
This step is so awesomely powerful that I can only reveal it to a select group of highly evolved super beings that I have been monitoring on the astral plane. Are you one of those special beings? You will know you are if you feel an urge to send me $999 for my Super Secret System on CD, just click here.... NOT! Let's face it. 99% of all the self help material and personal development hoohah is hyped up to the gills in order to part you with your money. You are made to feel like you are less than you should or could be. They use clever marketing copy and mind manipulation to trigger your buttons and filch from your pocket (have you been to a Tony Robbins seminar?!). When you understand this and see it for what it is, it will free you from the compulsion that you feel when you hear about the latest Nightingale Conant release or see some amazing mega system being offered online. It pays to learn a bit about copywriting and persuasion. You then see the game for what it is. This gives you a kind of X-Ray vision of discernment and the ability to 'sort the wheat from the chaff'.

Step 12: Let go and let Love!
If you truly want to help your self, and be the person you were born to be, the key to it all is Love. All personal development resolves to this: can you love? Do you feel the Love of Life within? Can you dive into that oceanic feeling within your chest. It's been described as an infinite sea that shines its warmth in all directions. Focus on the hollow in your chest and think of someone or something that you love. And when you get that feeling, focus in on it, breathe into it and let it grow stronger. Build that love and let it become a mighty blaze that shines for all. Let it fill you with bliss, joy and a deep abiding gratitude for the wonder of this eternal love that is there for you always.

Self-Reliance
So there you have it. This article attempted in some small way to arrest the momentum of all you self help addicts and personal development junkies. It asks you to stop and rediscover your own inner wisdom. It is not my intention to completely bash the self help industry or personal development (that would be a bit too ironic/hypocritical given the nature of this website!). I merely ask you to look within to your own inner genius. And unhook yourself from the teat of the success mongers. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, just change the water. You still want to learn and be open to new ideas. In fact as you expand your concept or who and what you are, you will come to realise that it is all your wisdom.

I was in Waterstones, the bookshop, a couple of years ago, browsing the self-help/psychology/new age wall of books. An old lady came up and stood beside me, turned to me and said: "You don't need those. Just look within!" She tapped her chest, smiled beatifically, and walked away (a little pompously I thought). On one level, I agreed with her; on another, I recognised that it is ALL within. You are what you seek.

"Unleash the Bestseller Within!"

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UPDATE APRIL 2008: I just spotted a new ebook by Dr. Robert Anthony (who I think is great) called "The Disease of Self-Improvement". You can download it FREE.

FEEDBACK REQUEST: What do YOU think? I'd love your feedback on this article. Email me: wily[at]wilywalnut.com

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