Confessions of Another Self-Help Junkie
Hi, my name’s Jon.
I’m a self-help junkie. And, I’m not the only one.
First, let’s just clear the air, and get one thing out of the way. This addiction of mine is not as severe as alcohol, opium, or cocaine. My addiction could be worse, more threatening, with health outcomes more severe.
But my addiction does carry with it a premium. A toll I routinely pay.
My addiction is driven by a need to know. An insatiable appetite for certainty. A certainty I feel compelled to consume from a source outside myself.
So, late at night I look to score a fix, Google can provide. It’s one more book. One more article. One more guru. One more answer is all I need.
Then I will be free from this perpetual holding pattern. I’ll be free to move.
Google, how can I…
- Overcome anxiety?
- Believe in myself?
- Let go of perfection?
I often ask questions I already know the answers to, as well.
- How to start a blog
- How to get fit for climbing
And, as I’ve learned, there are many answers to every question. So I search and search, looking for another answer, hoping I’ll find one I haven’t heard before. Because, maybe this next one will provide me with the key I’ve needed all along. With it I’ll unlock my mind and step forward into what awaits, the dreams I rarely speak out loud for fear they will not manifest.
So again, I keep on searching. For advice that will change my life. For a guide I compel to exist.
This pattern is simply madness. It’s a strategy devoid of action, that fails the test of logic, and ignores Newton’s First Law of physics:
An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
So, I remain at rest, awaiting for a force.
What is a Self-Help Junkie?
Welcome to the mind of a self-help junkie. Let’s unpack this, to see what makes it tick, and then explore how to break the cycle.
The self help junkie is certainly well intentioned. At the core of their behavior is a desire to be better, to improve upon oneself.
So, they look to books, and experts and workshops. They trade cash and time with the expectation that someone else has the answer.
But herein lies the crux.
Although it is commendable to grow and improve as a person, it can be weeded in a belief that can become a cancer… “I am not enough.”
If you allow this belief to root itself, you’ll endlessly seek out answers. You’re roots will continue to extend, seeking water in further lands. More books, more help, more gurus. More need to consume. More cash attempted to trade for answers.
This is the path of the self-help junkie. Convinced you’re in the desert, you constantly need more.
- Before I can live the life I want, I first must learn _______.
- Before I can do ________, first I must be ________.
- Before I can escape the desert, first I must find water.
But there’s no water in the desert. And, you’re not in the desert anyways.
For the self help junkie, the answer that you’re looking for will never be found upon a bookshelf. It will never be solved with a Google search. It won’t be satisfied by self-appointed gurus tweeting solutions for the world. You’re searching in the desert for something the desert can’t provide.
Meanwhile, you’re actually in an oasis.
You Are Good Enough
Am I telling you that you’re good enough?
Isn’t that what you want to hear? You’ve probably been told it before.
But, wait… does it really matter? Is that what you’ve been searching for? Is that enough… to be told that you’re good enough?
No. That’s not what you’re looking for.
Deep down, the self-help junkie is driven by a need to believe “I am good enough”. Because this is truly the only thing that can unfasten and set you free.
Unfortunately, this belief cannot be found in another click-bait headline, or a bullet point revealed with the flick of a finger. The belief that I am good enough is somewhere only in yourself.
It’s a belief that must be cultivated and guarded like a seedling, one day it will become a bounty, but we’re long before the harvest. It’s a crop you will not find in your local grocery store.
How To Overcome Self-Help Addiction
I am no expert or a guide. But, I’m developing my own plan to cure my own addiction. And, here’s how it all begins.
1) Create Your Own Guide.
It’s strange that we call it self-help when we’re reaching for a solution that someone else has written. And, looking to others is not a bad thing. Often times we can gain inspiration from others, which we can apply to ourselves.
But, in order to apply that inspiration, we need a blueprint of what we want. And since no one can drawn that out for you, you have to create your own guide.
Here’s what I like to do. I create my own “ideal self” journal. In here I blueprint out what I want in various areas of my life. In the journal I create a picture of the man I want to be, and the life I want to live.
To start out, I break my journal into the following basic subheadings:
I do this within a Google doc, and then under each subheading I describe what I want in that category.
The key to this exercise is not to limit yourself. The key is to turn your mind off and to allow yourself to write out what you want.
When you do this, your mind will try to shoot you down. Notice it, but don’t follow it. Allow yourself to write down what you want, and ignore the inner critic that says “you can’t do that.”
Trust me. He’s not going anywhere. Just ignore him for right now.
If you attempt this exercise, you’ll find that it’s not easy. It can be emotional and taxing, so expect that and embrace it. But I guarantee this is worth it.
Also, this isn’t an exercise meant to finish in a single session. I like to work on different sections, then I revisit over time, I revise and I edit. I look at it as a living document, intended to morph and change over time.
2) Trade Consumption for Creation.
We’re all familiar with the warnings and perils of consumerism. But, we typically consider consumerism in terms of materialism. You’ll probably agree that the more things you own cannot bring you happiness.
But, consumerism does not only refer to materialism, and the consumption of material goods. We also are consumers of information. And, in the information age, it becomes simple to over consume.
When I go to bed at night, the last thing I look at is my phone. I read comment threads on Reddit and mindlessly flick my finger through an endless feed of media. In the morning I begin my day in much the same way. It’s simple and it’s satisfying.
Consuming is so easy, and no, it’s not entirely bad.
But it’s easy to get out of balance.
And as a writer and a musician, it makes me sad to think about all the time I spend consuming vs the time I spend creating.
Maybe they cannot be completely equal, but their should at least be a balance.
Here’s one way to think about this need for balance.
A factory takes in supplies. They need resources to create goods, which then can create value. Their existence is built upon a balance between consumption of goods and creation of goods. With the right balance they are profitable. But consumption without creation… you can predict the outcome.
Similarly, as a human, I think there is a need to create. Not for profit, but for happiness. At the very least, we must create who we want to be, and the life we want to live. So, I suggest finding balance.
For me this means trading some of the hours I spend consuming for hours of creation. And, that’s why I started this blog. Rather than constantly searching for answers to what I don’t know, I’m choosing to explore my thoughts and share what I do know.
3) Give Up on Perfection.
Precision is good. Accuracy is great. But perfection is a fallacy. And, the sooner you can let go of perfection, the closer to it’s flame you’ll come.
If we want to move forward, if we want to be better, if we want to improve – we have to act like a scientist. The scientist takes their time to study, and to contemplate, but they then must act to test their theory.
Sometimes that theory is wrong. Never is it perfect. But lessons can be learned, theories can be changed, and future decisions can be more informed.
But for all of this to happen, action must be taken.
Perfection prevents progress.
Let it go. Walk away. And do the best you can.