The first self-help conference I attended was an amazing experience. Little did I know at the time, it would be the beginning of a near obsession with all things self-help, from books to seminars to online training. I also didn’t know that I was searching to fill a void. I’ve since stepped away from that dangerous cycle. It took learning about how to stop worrying and start living for me to feel confident enough to walk away from the obsession.
Now, I am not anti-self-help. I am anti-addiction to self-help. And let’s face it, many of us are addicted. And this is a dangerous addiction. If you can identify with the constant consumption of self-help material, I’m going to break down for you why the obsession is dangerous.
Let’s start with an overlooked consequence of this behavior
You’re worrying more than appreciating
One of the dangers of self-help addiction (and let’s face it, it is an addiction), is that you are in a state of subtle, but ever-present worry:
-What am I doing wrong in my life?
-What about my life still needs improvement?
-if I don’t read these books, I’ll never be happy.
-If I don’t follow this leader’s exact formula, I’ll never be successful.
It’s hard to appreciate your life when you’re pre-occupied with the idea that things need to be better, or somehow different.
You’re focused on the outside
The self-help circuit often creates the illusion that the answers are outside of you. This is not true. Someone may guide you to reveal what you already know deep down, but nobody has all of the correct answers for you.
It’s never ending
Notice how most self-help books and conferences are lead-ins to something more you need to purchase, download, access? It’s part of a greater fallacy. The fallacy that you need to live on the self-help road, constantly stopping to get help. When you do this, there’s little forward movement in your life, which is the opposite effect of what you want. you want forward movement. You don’t want to stay stuck where you are. That’s the whole point of seeking out self-help. But somehow, when you get on that cycle, your movement stagnates.
You’ll buy into almost any concept/event/training
It’s not that you’re gullible, it’s that you’ve bought into the idea that you need help and that others are so much wiser (more successful/enlightened) than you. This is a toxic thought process that can lead to an overall distrust of yourself.
You don’t trust that you know the answers to your more pressing questions. You’ve made mistakes. We all have. That doesn’t mean that you cannot learn from your mistakes and guide yourself forward without a reliance on self-help.
And the main reason:
You’re not fully living
It’s hard to be present in the now when you’re wrapped up in the idea that your present needs improvement and that you aren’t good enough just as you are. Many programs will lead you to believe this.
How do you know if you are in the throes of self-help seeking?
You can’t get out of the cycle if you don’t even know you are in it. You need to develop the self-analysis habits and awareness to determine if you are on the self-help seeking wheel. The question of how to stop worrying and start living can only be solved when you first are aware of any harmful habits.
Here’s are a few questions to ask yourself. Take the time to reflect on your life and answer this truthfully. It helps if you have a notebook on hand:.
Do you feel you need the books/seminars/webinars to learn how to stop worrying and start living? This is subtle but important. You don’t need them. It’s okay to feel that your life would be enhanced by them, but when you feel that you can’t live without a constant consumption of material in this genre, you are in the danger zone.
But like anything, change is possible. You can break this cycle.
To learn how to stop worrying and start living, let’s start by putting the brakes on the self-help cycle.
Go on a self-help fast and spend the time taking practical steps to help yourself. While you’re on the fast, use the time to actually implement many of the suggestions you’ve gathered over the years. It’s easy to attend a life-changing conference. It’s harder to actually implement the suggestions so your life does change long-term.
You can also use the time to amplify your own inner voice. You have internal guidance. You’ve just lost trust in it for whatever reason. It’s time to start trusting yourself again. You can focus on becoming more aware of your strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, blind spots, and areas in your life you’d like to change.
What if you became the teacher of your own life? That has a nice ring to it, right? What if you relied more on your own inner guidance than on others? If you started believing in yourself more and deeply feeling that you can make the right choices, or at least learn from your mistakes. Is it possible for you to let go of the need for outside guidance? Of course, it’s possible. But first you must believe that it is possible. Self-belief is always the first step.
Again, this doesn’t mean that you won’t ever again take guidance from someone else. You will. It just means you’ll stop feeling you cannot live without it. You’ll stop believing that without outside help, you can’t live your life well. Because the truth is most of the guidance from self-help you already know. A lot of the truths shared are universal and are basic life skills. Somehow, you just place more value on it when it’s coming from someone else. But you can turn that around.
You can still take in self-help. Of course, it’s fine to occasionally read books, go to conferences and meet people, listen to interesting webinars on the topic. But know your limits. Know when you are relying on them exclusively for guidance and lowering your own voice of reason and inner guidance. This is the only key to starting your journey down the road where you’ll teach yourself how to stop worrying and start living.
Self-help can complement, but not fully replace your own guidance. Your own sense of knowing should always be louder. If your own inner guidance isn’t louder right now, then you know it’s time for a self-help diet. But instead of food diets where you feel deprived, instead, with this diet, you’ll feel a greater sense of self-trust, peace, and eventually calm.