Paul J. Mills, Tiffany Barsotti, Meredith A. Pung, Kathleen L. Wilson, Laura Redwine, and Deepak Chopra Gratitude, along with love, compassion, empathy, joy, forgiveness, and self-knowledge, is a vital attribute of our wellbeing. While there are many definitions of gratitude, at its foundation, gratitude is a healing, life-affirming, and uplifting human experience that shifts us […]
Americans are great believers in self-help, and with good reason. There are more tools for personal growth today than ever before. Books, seminars, weekend workshops, and support groups of all kinds flourish in abundance. Cynics decry this as a symptom of narcissism, the navel-gazing of the Me Generation. Actually, self-help spans all generations, and according to studies, around 75% of people who improve their psychological state do so not with a therapist’s help, but by themselves.
Yet the more one looks into the self-help movement, the more confusion seems to reign. It’s common to meet people who tell the same story of being adrift. Having read many books, visited many teachers, and joined many groups, they continue to feel unfulfilled. Why? If self-help burgeons year after year, where are all these good intentions and well-meaning advice getting us?
— Who am I today?
— Where am I heading?
— What do I want my future to look like?
These are not abstract or airy-fairy questions. At bottom, self-help exists to offer a new direction. For that to happen, the old has to give way to the new. Old habits and conditioning need to be transformed, and that isn’t possible except at the level of consciousness. “Who am I?” really means “How do I see myself?” Self-help doesn’t work because you found a wise, all-knowing teacher or a quick fix for a tough problem.
Self-help works if it wakes you up, either a little or a lot. The best way to wake up is to know who you are, where you’re going, and what the future could be. Present reality is the foundation. The future is a vision open to all possibilities.
The enemy of self-help is whatever closes off your consciousness and narrows your vision. Skeptical friends and people around you who are stuck in various ways are no help. A family that wants you to stay safe and secure in your box is no help. The reason that the human potential movement got off the ground is that a yearning to break free is innate in everyone, yet society is arranged to resist and quash that impulse.
But at a deeper level you are uncovering your true self. This self is at peace; it lives in silence, and its greatest joy lies in simply being. The true self is your source. At some point you find that self-help isn’t really about self-improvement. It’s about self-discovery. When that stage is reached, much of the confusion and frustration that now exists will change. With a clear purpose in mind, seekers can use self-help as a tool to reach their real goal, which is liberation in fulfillment.
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