Raise your hand if, like me, you have invested the money, but not the time, in self-help books. Anyone? Hmm. I thought so. It’s nice to know that I am not alone. What is it that draws us to these books but then causes us to shelve them unopened? Or half-ass read them but not engage in the exercises? Obviously, we are wishing to gain some knowledge about ourselves, some insight as to why we are feeling the way we are feeling and how we can be better, do better. And yet, we purchase these books as if they are a magical panacea that works through osmosis rather than hard work. Are we afraid of what we might find hidden deep within ourselves? Or are we worried that it won’t work–we’ll put in the time and be no better off than we are now? Then what? Or do we simply put ourselves on the back burner, putting everything else ahead of our own needs? We might carve out time to read them but think nothing of breaking that date with ourselves to take care of someone else. We have no accountability to ourselves—it’s just us, after all.
I have purchased countless self-help books written by experts such as Dr. Phil, Christian authors like Joel Osteen, comedians like Kyle Cease, and spiritual teachers like Miguel Ruiz and Eckhart Tolle. The list goes on and on. Out of all of these books, I have only read a handful. And of that handful, I don’t know that I’ve truly given them the attention they deserve. So how can I fault them for not quieting the agitation I feel, silencing the chatter in my head, or quelling the rising tide of unease?
I recently culled my self-help bookshelf, donating those titles that no longer spoke to me. I don’t recall how many I gave away, but now, I have 21 books left. They sit there on the shelf, staring at me, waiting for me to take them seriously. Out of the 21, I’ve read or started to read nine. Out of those nine, I finished four. Of the other five books, here’s how I faired. I read Pam Grout’s E2 up to page 74. For Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, I got to page 98. I skimmed Heatherash Amara’s The Warrior Goddess Way as part of a book club. And as for Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance, which does not have page numbers but starts with January 1 and runs through December 31, I got to February 3. The fifth book, The World According to Mister Rogers, I view more of a daily quote kind of book rather than a plow through read. So perhaps that one should not count.
The point is it is not enough to want to do the work. It is not enough to wish you had the answers or at least some knowledge or sage advice to get at the root of what is causing your longing or unease. You actually have to DO the work. Crack open the book. Dedicate a scheduled time to really devote yourself to the teachings. Give yourself permission to put your first. I always say you can’t serve others from an empty pitcher. That pitcher needs to be replenished. And if you have gone so far as to spend good money on a book you think can help you, then your pitcher is running dry. It’s time to fill it up. Pick a book, crack that spine, and get to work.
If you’re needing a little more encouragement, or want to share what book you’re going to tackle, head on over to my Live Yourself Well Facebook page and comment under this post. Hope to see you there.