Self-help vs. Help Ourselves
March 28, 2013
Bookstore shelves are lined to the brink of overflowing with books written especially for those of us looking for a less stressful, more prosperous and fulfilling life. And why not, we all want to be happy, loved and successful. And if we pause long enough to consider our health, we want to be totally healthy too. Let’s just call a spade a spade...we want it all. Who doesn’t?
Speaking across the board, on a scale of 1 to 10, we want everything in our life to tip the scale on the 10 side as opposed to the 1 side. Again, who doesn’t? Yet, most of us also wish we had a magic wand, utter abracadabra and make it all happen. Then again, magic wands are in short supply leaving us to rely on ourselves to incite the magic.
How? It depends; all ‘results’ achieved depend on one’s level of desire; lack of true desire, lack of measurable results. For instance, I have a friend who reads every new self-help book that hits the market, yet his life doesn’t change as expressed by his continued complaints. I’ve voiced to him many a time that simply reading the book doesn’t work if he lacks the desire to apply his new found knowledge.
Part of his problem affects others as well. A lot of folks read self-help books, and there are many good ones available, but lack true desire to help themselves put positive change into action. Actually, most people consider desire an emotion; however, it’s not an emotion even though many a romance novelists would argue that point. Philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) said it best when he acknowledged desire as the “fundamental motivation of all human action.” Simply put, when we truly desire something, we take action to obtain or achieve it. So why do so many people fail at motivating themselves into action? Let’s start with the short list: 1) We’re lazy.
Oops, did you want something sugar-coated? Really? Ah, therein lies the problem, we want to live in a sugar-coated, magic wand life with very little effort on our part. Jus’ sayin’. And if life worked this way we’d all be doing it.
Okay, let’s all agree we want a less stressed, more fulfilled life now. In that case, the real reason we struggle is one word: Ego. We’ve all heard the terms, ego-manic, egotistic, bruised ego, deflated ego, over-inflated ego and ego driven. Sure sounds like our ego has a tarnished reputation, doesn’t it?
Let’s get back to ‘self-help’ for a moment. Of course we can help ourselves, change our lives for the better, make everything in our life work and live our days happy, joyful and full of love and kindness. It’s not that difficult. The tricky part is getting our ego to cooperate because, as most psychologists agree, the ego is everything we are emotionally. And you know how emotional we get when things don’t go our way; basically...our ego likes to be right.
So how do we get our ego to cooperate and enjoy the life we only dream about? There are many top selling authors sharing ideas on this very subject. Dr. Wayne Dyer is one of my favorites and coined the phrase, “Change your thoughts, change your life.” — also the title of one of his many self-help books. Remember, however, our ego has been with us a long time and it thinks it’s fine and that’s precisely the ‘thoughts’ we need to retrain.
The reason our ego thinks all is as it should be is because it righteously holds on to preprogrammed beliefs. A tug-a-war with our ego ensues if we question a belief, as it argues with us until it has us re-convinced and again obedient to the belief. (This would be our negative self-talk in action.) Amazingly, we fall for this time after time throwing our hands up and saying something negative to ourselves (see what I mean?), only serving as a means to validate our ego.
In other words, we give up and return to thinking our lives can’t change. Ah, but it will change when our level of desire outweighs our ego’s need to be right. It is then when we help ourselves.
But, take baby steps. You won’t be able to clean up all the old programmed beliefs immediately. However, the more personal the belief is to you, the more meaningful it will be when you change your ego’s reaction to it. For example (and I’m keeping this simple), squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle. Your reaction may be an impressive 7.5 on the Richter scale. Yet, ask yourself...is a belief about squeezing the tube in the middle or on the end really something I want to hang onto. Then the next time you walk into the bathroom and before your ego “buttons are pushed”...stop...recognize your ego’s attempt to keep repeating the same behavior which makes you miserable and everyone in your household. Instead, let it go and immediately redirect your thinking to a more positive, better feeling thought. A few short tubes of toothpaste later and your ego will be retrained to a new way of reacting and the Richter scale will be a distant memory.
In other words, don’t focus on the old behavior, but on a new behavior by setting your ego’s emotional reaction aside, which enables you to enjoy a less stressed, more fulfilled life. In other words, we need to renegotiate with ourselves what we are willing accept about ourselves and what we are not. And that’s what makes the possible, possible. And if you can do it with the toothpaste, you can do it with anything!
Can you imagine...confronting your ego and winning?
Smile, you’ve earned it!
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