The reason self help fails is because eventually you find there’s no self to help.
Ever tried to tickle yourself? Einstein’s theory on self-help is as profound as the rest of his teachings. “You can’t solve a problem from the level that created it.”
Hence, in a self-help book shop you will find people keen to evolve and grow reading books about how to evolve and grow. Any book that suggests you shouldn’t evolve and grow will be bypassed immediately. Hence, in self-help we gravitate to the solution we have self or other determined to be the answer to our challenge. Rarely is that assessment correct.
For example: if you determined that you felt insecure at parties, or insecure at work, you might go searching for books, videos, podcasts and GI Joe, American fitness trainers who pump up your sense of self- security. You suddenly feel confident. Power comes to your chest and you tell all your friends how much you love this or that book. Twenty years later, you look back and laugh at yourself for the “Loud craze” you went through, followed by the zen one. Then the Tantra phase and the meditation phase. All the while doing self-help and being so proud of yourself.
But what if there was nothing to fix, no self to help. What if the idea of changing yourself with some antagonist to your protagonist was a self-constructed opposition to your self-other diagnosis... ie: you need to be more secure. What if that was completely self-imposed rubbish.
It is my guess, and I can’t defend this statistic due to the small number in my research base, that 99% of self-help falls way short of anything sustainable. And case in point, the person who diagnosed themselves as insecure, isn’t. The reason they feel insecure at parties is because deep inside they feel great and they just don’t want anyone to mess with it. This is not insecure. This is the root of strength. Misdiagnosis is at the very heart of self-help.
I climbed a mountain in Nepal because I read so many books about self-discovery by adventure. It made me feel ignorant and untested and that all the self-help and counselling I’d been getting was too safe. I went and I climbed. But at the top, I felt the same as I felt at the bottom. It was just another phase that, instead of lasting six months, lasted six hours. At least I knew what it wasn’t. I’d gone to a safe mountain with safe ropes to a safe height for a safe reason, self help. I look back and laugh at the cost of that learning. Ultimately zero return on investment, (unless you count this story as a ROI which is some gain), but I lost months of my life, wasted thousands of $, achieved zero and didn’t become a hero.
Self-help is always hero worship. We identify some form of hero and say “I wanna be that person” and sadly we sink our ship. Hero worship is the problem, not the self. WE say “I want to be like that guy on facebook, or that woman on instagram or this one that spoke at our conference. We don’t know them at all, but we love the public image and their “success.” Some people even try to look like their hero.
Coaching, good coaching, is transparent. The teacher doesn’t say “do what I do” they say “do what I say.” It’s a huge difference. On stage, on social media we dress to represent an outcome we offer, such as the people with their six pack abs on facebook. “Do my program and you’ll be like me” and there’s something authentic about that. However, what they don’t say is “and also have my back pain, my ego stress, my inability to relax due to concrete lung capacity. They sell the dream and leave out the scream. Coaching is too personal for that.
Actually, in my coaching you do not have to change at all. What I do is teach you to own parts of yourself you may have judged or rejected. It’s not guru worship it’s self-worth, self-respect. All the skills i teach are to bring out what’s already there. Nobody is insecure. We just express and repress parts of ourselves and that, for your self, has little or nothing to do with my self. I’m working on expressing more of me, you need to work on expressing more of you. I can help with that. Self-help can’t.