SELF HELP IS DRIVING ME CRAZY

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that this blog has been driving me nuts over the last couple of months. Not proper-need-medical-help nuts but ever so slightly losing the plot nuts.

Shock horror, it turns out that analysing your feelings and facing your every weakness is a recipe for crazy. There is now hardly a minute in the day when I don’t think – Why did I say that? Why did I do that? Am I self-sabotaging? Am I scared of being vulnerable?

I am over-thinking everything.

It’s making me unhinged. I now cry at almost anything – X Factor, Nationwide ads, a sideways look – and am fast becoming that person you’d back away from at parties. The one who gives a two hour answer to the ‘How are you question?’; an answer that involves therapy speak about my childhood and inappropriate details about my issues with men.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a woman at a work drinks and started a ten minute ramble about the blog and how weird this year has been. She didn’t beat about the bush.

‘Self-help books only serve to make neurotic people more neurotic,’ she said.
‘Why on earth do you need someone to tell you how to live your life? Can’t you figure out how to do it yourself?

At that moment, I really couldn’t come up with an answer for her.

My sister’s patience is wearing thin. The other night she mentioned that she’s been putting off making an appointment to go to the dentist. ‘But WHY are you avoiding it?’ I asked.

‘Can we not turn this into a counselling session?’ was the reply.

Mum has suggested, nicely, that perhaps I’m thinking about things too much. She’s right, I’m drowning in my thoughts.  And it’s not fun.

And far from helping it seems that the more I look at my flaws, the more I have.

I could spend a whole year addressing my money issues alone – and I didn’t even realise that was one of my problems. I haven’t even got into men yet!  Let alone my fear of confrontation, the crazy voice in my head that tells me everything I do is a total failure, my fear of planning/commitment…

I now long for the days when I thought happiness lay in a pair of new jeans or being a size ten. There’s a reason the whole work/shop/eat/drink/forget approach to life is so popular – it’s easier than this. And actually, maybe it’s no worse for you.

One of the argument against self-help is that it gives us unrealistic expectations about how good our life should be – and I now think there’s truth in that. Although there have been moments in this year when I’ve felt so proud of myself – chatting up the Greek, doing the stand-up comedy – I’m frustrated with how slow my progress is. I’m beating myself up about self-improvement in the same way I used to beat myself up over not being good enough at work.

The other argument is that if any self-help book worked we’d buy one and that would be it, we’d be cured! As it is people who buy self-help are likely to buy a new book every 18 months. Every eighteen months? I’ve downloaded five last week. The more self-help I read the more I want to read. It’s like wine – one glass (book) is too many, twelve is never enough.

My brain right now is a sea of affirmations and slogans. It’s overwhelming.

And it’s not just books. My friends don’t get a moment on my Facebook feed – it’s too full of quotes from the Dalai Lama  and someone called Chocolate Socrates (I have no idea who he is but he sends inspirational quotes five times a day). I swore when I started this blog that it wouldn’t be filled with inspirational quotes, written in italics set against a mountain backdrop – but now those quotes don’t seem so bad to me. I’m going to the dark side… I’ll be burning incense soon.

My inbox is just as jammed, I’m getting email alerts from someone called Miss Thrifty, offering me helpful ways to save money by re-using parmesan rinds (?!!) and emails from The Universe, – no really – who sends me mystical messages every day . Today it wrote:

‘Marianne, nothing is ever lost in this adventure of all adventures. The lessons and discoveries of every single life, no matter how large or small, difficult or easy, are added to the whole. Like stones in the base of a pyramid, they permanently raise and forever support every manner of adventure that follows. And so it is that the hearts of those who came first continue to beat in all subsequent generations forevermore.’ 

This is the kind of opaque gobbledygook that now fills my head. I dread to think how much time I’ve wasted reading this stuff. Productivity was never my strong suit, but it’s now fallen through the ground. I am getting nothing done because I’m too busy contemplating my navel.

John C Parkin, of F**K It therapy, says there’s a left-hand side of the brain and the right. The right is the more woo-woo, intuitive, trusting gut, feeling side while the left hand side makes a plan, sticks to it, gets things done, uses logic etc.

Most poeple spend too much time in the left hand side and not enough in the right but actually I’ve been spending WAY too much time in the right.

Brene Brown says that it’s important to feel your feelings but she also says that its too easy to over identify with them, so that you get caught up in them and swept away by them. I’ve been feeling way too many feelings and they’ve been running me. I’ve been self-indulgent.

I need to get back on solid ground, make a plan, get back on track with the schedule of this blog.

So to that end I am going old-school with my next book: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. It’s an old-school book that looks more like a text-book than a self-help book – there are diagrams and everything. Not an angel wing or affirmation in sight. I’m hoping it will be as bracing as a cold shower.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up Brene Brown, then Thursday I’ll get onto being Highly Effective. Oh yes.

XXX

 

 

29 thoughts on “SELF HELP IS DRIVING ME CRAZY

  1. John C

    Come Nov 5th burn all your S/H books & venture out into the big bad world. You’ll do great. Sorry about the ‘barking comment’

    JC

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      John, thanks for the sentiment but there’ll be no book burning, I’ll keep going. Thanks for the apology.

      Reply
  2. Annah Sofia

    I think you are too ambitious – a book a month is (for most people/everybody) WAY too much! You need time to adjust, integrate, enjoy the new things you learn, your new habits. Think of it as waves: you learn, work, insist, and then you “pause” where you rest, gather new strenght and get motivated for your next round. And YES, you will seem crazy sometimes, but then stop up, breathe (as in really breath slowly in and out) and get your grounding strong. Then work on your self love, self acknowledge, your patience with yourself. Be at peace with yourself, your flaws, your (lacking) progress.

    I think you are doing really good, only you pace yourself too much. Breathe, have faith in yourself, your process, and in life, and remember to acknowledge you are working really hard on changing to a happier you. Will you find easier ways? Yes, as soon as you are ready. The best sentence I’ve used to be happy: All is well, all is very well, I am just as I’m supposed to be. Insist on self love, insist in breathing as a way to solve problems, remember to do things that makes you feel spoiled and loved. And remember to enjoy yourself – life is not just hard work (in attitude or in action) 🙂

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Thank you Annah, you are so kind. I didn’t realise when I started how ambitious a book a month was but I guess it is. A lot of different thinking to implement and my head is spinning. I do want to stick to it though – it was the challenge I set myself but I think I need to remember Susan Jeffers’ phrase, one I loved from January ‘ it’s all happening perfectly’ – just like your ‘All is well’. Anyway, thank you for the support, your messages are always so kind and wise. How are you? Is life going well? xx

      Reply
      1. Annah Sofia

        [Sorry, I get no note, you’ve replied]

        Life is good, thank you 🙂 I’m practicing peace of mind – well, it’s actually just a part of where I’m at right now, but most days I’m experiencing it in smaller or bigger doses. Oh, what a blessing after only knowing stress in mind and my in nervous system! It gives me great faith in my future.

        I never won the lottery, so now it’s a fact: I’m not going to my cousins wedding in Chicago. I’ve decided to visit them next year, that is almost as excciting, right?

        Hope you’ve got your spirits up 🙂
        Xx

        Reply
        1. Marianne Power Post author

          Chicago next year will be just as lovely as this year – if not more so because you’ll be going at a time when you know you can afford it. I’m pretty good – up and down like a roller coaster as usual, but more on the up these days. Am weirdly enjoying the Seven Habits, have you read it?
          Mx

          Reply
          1. Annah Sofia

            Good to hear! 🙂

            I began reading it 15 years ago, I think. Maybe I should read it alongside with you. Back then I thought it was very interesting, but really dull written. What made the biggest impact was the idea of noticing how much of one’s energy was in one’s interest sphere or in one’s influence sphere. That was a life changer and improved my life immensely.

            My mom borrowed my book in the spring, I just recall. I still haven’t got it back. And won’t get it before Nov. 6. Well, I’ll turn to the library instead. They must have the e-book. Good project reading it again, I suppose. And could be fun with you 🙂

            7 habits FTW!

  3. Franziska

    Hey Marianne,

    I totally feel you! I am thinking just the same lately. When I compare myself now to myself 3 years ago without any self help books I know it was the right path. Many of those books taught me to claim the power over MY life back. But I agree there can be such a thing as “too much” self help. So I started to set boundaries and do breaks. Like a week without journaling, affirmations, reading or meditating. That worked perfectly for me. I enjoy my “spiritaul time” and my “let it be time”. I think it is effictively too. I feel there are faster breakthroughs on the things I focus on when I had a “thinking break”.

    Please write another Blog entry for when you find a balancing way. Love your blog! You seem like an awesome person to know 🙂

    Love from Germany!
    Franzi

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      You’re right about needing the break in between, Franzi. You need time to let it all settle in, just like you need a rest after exercising. THe problem is that I feel very aware that I’m behind the schedule I set myself and I’d like to get it all done…. but maybe I should have three weeks on for each book and then a week off. Thanks so much for the encouragement, it means a lot. Love TO Germany!!

      Reply
  4. Linda Kester

    Working on yourself is hard. From reading your blog it looks like life is better now then it was a year ago. Be kind to yourself. You are doing a great job.

    Reply
  5. Rosie

    Best of luck with the 7 Habits – I’ve had it on my bookshelf for three years but have been procrastinating wildly on actually reading it. It feels incredibly daunting to me – but hearing your impressions of it may well inspire me to get stuck in! Best of luck 🙂

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Rosie, read along with me? I’ve been the same, I’ve had it on my book shelf for years and have picked it up, tried it and put it back down again. It’s dense. How are you? Nice to hear from you. My email isn’t working properly at the mo – need to get it sorted, so sorry if you’ve been trying to get in touch. How are you? x

      Reply
  6. Arthur

    There’s a thing about self-help. It holds up an ideal, compared to which your life can only seem lacking. I’ve come to the conclusion that it can be extremely helpful and a life saver in the right situation, but that it can also act like a destructive drug that keeps you hoping and hopping from one promise of a perfect life to the next – all the while accentuating the misery of the fact you are not there yet. It is structured as a carrot on a stick and uses emotionally charged rhetoric to appeal to your desires and get you to buy into an ideal.

    By defining your life in the context of an ideal, you can only ever feel like a failure. There has to be a goal for self-help, and an end to it. The reasons why one does self-help need to be scrutinised, and one really should examine what exactly is driving one. Why this anxiety and fear? Where does it come from? A good therapist will get results. A conman will string you along and blame the lack of results on you. There are times where a therapist or coach is better than self-help. They are far more to the point and can be extremely efficient.

    This is my really long way of saying: I’ve been there and I know just how you feel 🙂

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Arthur, thanks so much. You’re so articulate. Yes, think I might need a coach or a therapist to help me along now, there’s too much going on in my head. How are you?

      Reply
  7. David Palmer

    Only the ignorant decry our efforts to discover a better way forward for ourselves, but my strategy for years was not to mention my focus on the Seven Habits because of that ignorance. When I gained more self confidence I made it known what I was doing but still got the self – interested uninformed comments from the perfect people around me.
    So I taught it as well and guess what -some people are interested in self discovery and alternatives.
    My experience in buying lots of such books is typical and I’m easing off, so my one regret, if a regret it is, is that I didn’t pick one and stop there. Affer 20 years I’m seeing the light!

    You carry on, M. This next book is excellent. It’s the one i always go back to. Don’t be put off by some of the examples, which are job related. Thre aren’t as many as it seems but we do spend a lot of time in work. Anything not sitting right, let me know and I’ll see if I can help. (Don’t I sound up myself……..)

    Reply
  8. Bob Whittle

    My daily affirmation is this;…….I believe in Universal Intelligence…it is Creation…I AM Creation..I shall not want for anything…Creation guides me to prosperity and peace….It restores my soul my strength and my health..and as I may walk into areas unknown I will never be afraid…My cup is overflowing..Goodness and mercy will be with me all of my Earthly days and forever after….Thank you Creation for your guidance and constant LOVE……..

    Reply
  9. lonestarsky

    I think you’ve done remarkably well. Not sure I could handle one self help book per month. It’s been interesting following your journey though, and it does beg the question, when is the time to stop with the self-help and instead help yourself?!

    I read this book recently though. I didn’t find it too self-helpy but I’m not sure all the ‘secrets’ are relevant for me. I liked numbers 1 and 7, not sure about the rest. Can’t wait to see what you make of it!! x

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Fantastic!! Lovely to meet you, Emeka and congrats on all the work. I share a lot of your quotes on Facebook. Thanks for saying hello.

      Reply
  10. Kevin Pica

    Great blog! I am experiencing the same problem now. And i am somewhat relieved to know that i am not alone with this problem. I got into self-help when ive read a book that literally changed my life. And so, I challenged myself to read as many books as i can. Afterall i didnt want to miss out on any potential learning that i might miss otherwise. IDK, It just got so messed up and it kind of turned into an addiction. After reading your blog i’ll ease off the reading a bit. Thanks! and Good luck to you!

    Reply
  11. Paul B

    I want a chocolate socrates for Christmas.

    I can practically hear the rustle of red and silver tinfoil, the smell of cocoa . . . the little ‘fortune cookie’ – style note inside with one of the ancient philospher’s sagacious jottings inscribed on it.

    PS.

    Sorry for using the ‘c’ word in October.

    Reply
  12. Jason

    Hi Marianne,

    This is an interesting and very ambitious goal. I think it’s great that you’re willing to step up and work on yourself and not hide behind the excuses. The people who tell you that self-help is bad and that it gives you unrealistic expectations are people who generally have ‘accepted’ their fate as they look at it.

    Reading self-help books won’t really get you where you want to go, which I’m guessing is why you’re feeling frustrated. I can’t stand self-help books because most of them are just fluff. There’s very little meat to them, which is part of what got me interested in starting my own blog.

    What I would recommend is to find the exercises and practices that you connect with and start doing these regularly. Otherwise nothing will stick because no technique is designed to have you waking up as a brand new person overnight.

    Good luck! Would love to keep in touch!
    Jase

    Reply

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