Death to the self help movement – you don’t need it, honest

I’ve been avoiding housework.  By wandering around bookshops.  It’s my go-to procrastination destination.  Do you have one of those?

I am usually in love with book shops.  Like, totally in love with them.  Like, spend hours and hours in them love.  But today I wasn’t feeling it.

Rather than just ambling, I decided (as part of my procrastination strategy) to go looking for a specific book.  A book on Photoshop.  I have it installed on my new computer and I have a few ideas for my Kindness Bomb project for which it would be really useful.  Except I have no idea how to use it.  I need to learn.  Hence the trip to the bookshop (and the PERFECT excuse not to do my housework).

So, I rock up to the bookshop and there were no books on Photoshop.  In fact, there were hardly any books on technology at all.  There was a very small “Dummies guide to …” section, but that was it.

The bookshop, however, was full to the brim on how to find your passion, reinvent your life, find happiness, do what you love, love what you do and basically tell you how to change the person you are right now.  And biographies, it seems, are definitely on the up – that particular section had almost doubled in size.

It occurred to me that there is a massive trend right now pointing out to people that the life they have is unsatisfactory and that they should be doing something totally different, and the author of the book will show you exactly how.  And if that fails, you can always emulate the life of the people in the bibliographies.

It isn’t really a trend though.  Self help books have been around for hundreds of years.  I recently watched a documentary on Shakespeare and it has been speculated that Romeo and Juliet was inspired by a couple of romance self-help books circulating in Italy at the time (where he penned the play), although I am really hoping that they didn’t suggest people went around killing themselves to show their love for each other.

Of course, I am all for having dreams and making them a reality.  God knows, I have been chasing my (non) dream for goodness how long.  But recently it occurred to me that we are individual souls, with intuition and an inner knowing about our own existence.  Clever marketers have convinced us that we don’t know jack shit about ourselves and that we need their products and books to reinvent our lives.  Facebook is full of unhelpful catch phrases that frankly jut make us feel like we aren’t doing enough.

But you know what, you don’t need it.

You are able to follow your intuition.  You know what you like and deep down inside you is the answer that you may be seeking.

Fear, of course, is the killer of our dreams.  And that fear drives us to look outside of ourselves for the answers to fulfilling our dreams.  We want someone to tell us how to do it because to do it on our own is just too damn scary.

But it isn’t you know.  It’s only scary because we are afraid to fail.  And believe me, I know.  My whole life I have never tried for fear of failure.  My comfort zone is so damn small, it’s just about big enough for a five cent piece.  But I’m changing that.  I’m ditching my self help books and I’m listening to my intuition.

It isn’t easy.  A thousand voices in my head tell me that I am going to fail, that my definition of success will never be reached, that people will laugh, that I have a family and commitments.  All of which may be true.  But so what.  Isn’t it better to just try?

Take my Photoshop learning for instance.  I had this idea that I could create some really cool things on that program, that perhaps I could sell and donate some of the proceeds to those issues that mean a lot to me.  I also thought I could create some free printables just to give to people to brighten their day.

Immediately those voices started in on me, telling me that I am not a designer, or particularly creative, that there over a million sellers on Etsy and who would want to buy my stuff anyway.

As I was walking around that bookshop with all those “your life is crap, buy me to change that” books, I had those voices going in my head.  Who was I to think that I could change the world.

But you know what, multilevel marketing says I can.  All I have to do is make a difference to two peoples’ lives with my message and creativity, and they in turn only have to affect another two people, who then affect another two people.  And you get where I’m going with this right?  You guessed it, before long, my creativity, and my little dream, has suddenly made a difference to hundreds of people, if not thousands.  Not me directly, of course, but who cares.  As long as you lay the first brick, a house can be built.

You have a gift, a dream.  You know what it is.  Deep inside you know it.  You are meant to give that to the world.  You don’t need a book to tell you how to be you.  You need to be the one to tell you how to be you.  Trust that you can be you.

I have spent almost half my life trying to find my passion.  I still have no clue.  But I do know what is important to me – family, love, kindness, honesty, truth.  Those things define me.  From those five things all else springs from me.  My blogging/writing is about my honesty and truth, but it is also about kindness.  My creativity, through my card making and scrapbooking, is totally driven by my family and my love for them.  I give people a piece of me each time I do something creative and the feeling I get from their joy totally feeds me – that’s the essence of creativity.

So, friends, ditch those self-help books and tell me, what gifts are you about to unleash into the world?  What glorious you-ness can we expect?  I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Much love,

SHW Signature





4 thoughts on “Death to the self help movement – you don’t need it, honest

  1. I think I have a gift for the world. I think my authentic voice is my gift. I used to think it was my teaching. But sometimes my confidence about using my voice wavers. I get really wobbly. I doubt it. Then I write something honest and it resonates with people and I feel like I am recalibrated. I know I have more to give, I’ve just got to get out of my own way.
    I also think I do need some self-help stuff. The world I am in leaves me floundering and my own strategies for coping have been unhelpful. Seeing a psychologist and reading, coupled with doing some of the exercises (for mindfulness, for panic moments)… those things have helped me enormously. I liked your book illustration! Can’t wait to see what you create for us on photoshop!


    1. I’ve had some backlash on this post (through FB messaging). I know self-help books help a lot of people, but I also do feel they can be disempowering. We are told every day how to act, think, dress and feel. I just think that we need to get back to being independent thinkers and coming up with our own solutions. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a tribe – that is vital – but we need to trust ourselves more, if that makes sense. xx


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