When I wrote my book, I had visions of it being placed in the Arts or Creative sections of book stores. Because that’s where people tend to go first when they want to become more creative. And when it got classified as self-help, I cringed. But you take what you can get sometimes. I don’t see my book as self-help, even though it does. One of my intentions for the book is for you to see yourself, before you realize that I’ve shown you yourself. And I think Lisa closes her story out well.
I don’t need to insert comments on Lisa’s story, she’s done so well with telling the story below.
Lisa writes: Why is it that every friend of mine who consistently reads every got to have it, best -seller, self-help book is perpetually screwed up. “Lisa, since reading, “Take Back Your Life” (this of course is a fictional title of a popular non-fiction book) I understand what it has taken me twenty years to realize, I only need me,” says Sheila with great enlightenment. You have to read this book. Having known that she’d previously read such classics such as “The Rules” and even Dr. Laura’s masterpiece “Ten Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives, with idle zeal, I continued to offer my optimism to her cause. “Great”, I applauded to Sheila for her newfound independence and optimism. Hanging up the phone I thought, hurrah (and actually did buy the book). Enter scene two one month later: I call Sheila only to discover that she’s called in sick from work and is throwing a pity party for herself all morning because another relationship with a married, but separated, man is not turning out to be the fantasy she’d planned. “His wife is trying to real him back in. She’s claiming him.” Well she is only married to him I think to myself and am dying to ask, “What happened to the power you’d found in “Take Back Your Life”. I thought the sister who wrote this book had broken it down. Last we talked you were on your way to celibacy and Wednesday night Bible studies.” Alas, after finishing yet another important, all knowing self help book, Sheila is once again finding her old self and helping herself to her old destructive ways.
My other very dear friend, Brenda, follows a similar pattern in her lifestyle. Having nearly the same man troubles, but more serious troubles in her career, she actively pursues the next great self-help book to get her past her self-defeating behavior. On any given afternoon (since she is again unemployed) one is certain to find her in the self-help section of her local bookstore. Similar to Sheila’s story, I’d talked with her after she’d finished self-help book 244 where upon she had found a great job, felt appreciated, and was making a great salary. My first warning that things were falling apart was the disconnect message I got when I dialed her cell phone. Oh no, I thought. This is always how it starts. Talking with her confirmed my fear; she had been let go from another good job.
I must declare that both women are extremely bright, beautiful, healthy, and intelligent women. They are creative, wonderful mothers, caring, and above all great friends. Aware that they have not had the best go of it in certain aspects of their lives, they have sought solutions. Certainly, self-help books are intended to remedy unpleasant circumstances in some fashion, or else no one would by them. But I do have to wonder if they make you perpetually dependent on self-help without helping.
None of us have it together all the time, but, why do some us not have it together most of the time? And, when we seek to get it together long term and self-help doesn’t help, what can? I am of the opinion that most self-help does not really help unless the reader is willing to confront themselves in the raw. Reading and discovering the way one should handle themselves, others, and certain circumstances is one pot of soup, but to really understand the core of oneself is more complex type of stew. The author knows not our secret desires, inner conflicts of rage, insecurity, vanity, and lusts. Until we are willing to be perfectly honest with what makes us tick, we cannot nor or we willing to discern patterns of behavior from incidences and situations.
For example, Brenda is extremely beautiful. In every case of the fizz going out of her career, she always mentions that she has a problem with her female co-workers. No self-help book is going to point out to her that she is extremely wrapped up in every detail of her looks from the first and last curl of her hair, to the crease in her pants. The books can in no way inform her that she secretly hopes to have a conflict with her female co-workers to confirm to her that she is beautiful. She thrives on these conflicts because it is more important to her to be beautiful (jealousy of her beauty and conflict therefore comforts her) and it shows in not only her interactions with others, but also, affects her performance at work. Brenda must recognize this about her inner self and be diligent about working through it so that it doesn’t proceed to ruin her career and her life.
“Take Back Your Life” obviously neglected to get to the root cause of Sheila’s problems with men. She is in plain truth lustful; looking for love, comfort, and affection by using her body to woo a man into her life. Through all of her travels on the self-help bandwagon she is unable to turn around the episodes of depression over her relationships.
In essence, we can all really help ourselves if we are courageous enough. Self-help can assist us in assuring us that we are on the right path, but only ourselves can deliver the result. Only we can manifest our wishes, desires, and the life we want. We cannot read it to happen. We must will it by being completely honest with who we are, assessing our strengths, weaknesses, faults, and the resources around us. Like reading a book on building homes is only helpful to someone intricately aware of homebuilding, reading a book on the self is only useful when we are intimately aware and knowledgeable of all the nuts and bolts of our existence. For no book can even come close to describing or telling who we are – what has molded us making us unique, hungry, indifferent, at times ugly, and beautiful. Self-help cannot help those who continually self-medicate on reading what they should do and who they should be. Self-help cannot help those who find therapy in only the reading. The way to recognize that those self-help books are not helping is to track your life. If you are still reading, still searching, still crying, and still reading the books but not reading deeper into yourself, self-help is not helping.
Lisa’s website: www.lisafritsch.com