The other day I was thinking about my first impression of self-help. I was about 19 years old at the time, Shane, my husband (then boyfriend) and I had been in a pretty unhealthy relationship due to a lot of miscommunication with each other. We had gone through a lot together in the first part of our relationship, I won’t get into the details right now, but someone had recommended a book to me to help us improve our communication.
Shane and I headed to our local Barnes and Nobel to buy the book. We couldn’t find the book so I had to ask one of the employees for assistance with finding it in the store. I told her the title, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, and she told me right away that it would be in the Self-Help section. I heard the words “Self-Help” and my heart immediately sank, I felt so ashamed and embarrassed! I had no idea the book would be in that type of section. I felt as though something was wrong with me and started doubting my relationship all together since I was looking for a book in this section of the store.
Somewhere along the line, I developed this negative opinion of self-help and thought that it was for people who were broken. People who were sitting at home crying over their miserable lives, doing nothing with it and who had nothing going for them.
The lady brought Shane and I over to that area of the store and told us where it would be. As we sifted through all of the other books on the shelf, which including titles like “Relationships for Dummies” among many other tiles within that series. I remember the embarrassment I felt just standing in that section of the store. I felt as though people were staring and laughing at us, judging us for even being there. We found the book and brought it up to the counter to check out, I was in sheer embarrassment throughout the entire process.
I know now how dramatic and silly it was for me to judge a section of a book store so harshly. Let alone, allow it to affect me in such a way that I’d doubt my self-worth and my relationship all together. Not to mention, the fact that this was about 10 years ago now, so the simple fact that I can remember this moment so vividly tells me just how ashamed and embarrassed I truly felt and how negatively I thought of self-help.
Looking back at that experience now makes me laugh, for a few reasons:
- Although Shane and I obviously didn’t have the best relationship at that time, I think it says a lot about how committed we were to our relationship and how mature it was for us, at such a young age, to look for a resource to help improve our relationship. Instead of giving up on our relationship all together (and take that baggage with us) we instead chose to seek out how to take steps to improve our relationship and our communication.
- It was so silly of me to be embarrassed to be in a section of a book store, literally feeling as though people were staring and laughing at us. Looking back now, I’m sure not a single person even noticed we were there, let alone in that section of the book store. Funny, how we can feel like this and truly believe it, until we take a step back and realize just how silly it is!
- How crazy is it that we can build up an impression of things in our minds based on what we’ve heard or been taught. Without even taking a second to consider what we think or feel about something, we accept other people’s opinions of their beliefs as our own, without a second thought.
If I didn’t have such a negative impression of self-help, that book likely would’ve had more of a positive impression on me and our relationship. I don’t remember if the book was good or not, so I’m not going to recommend it at this time, maybe I’ll read it again in the future with a new perspective after years of experience and will let you know how it is. I also, likely would have continued to look for more self-help books to improve myself as a person in general, as well as our relationship.
If I hadn’t had this first impression of self-help, it wouldn’t have taken me years later to finally understand the value of self-help and the positive impact it can have on your life! It wasn’t until many years later that I was finally introduced to it again. You can learn how I was reintroduced to Self-Help here. Unfortunately, by that time I was unhappy with myself and my life and had gone through a lot of trial and error in our relationship to finally figure out how to communicate.
I have no idea where I learned this negative idea of self-help, likely just society in general, but it goes to show how much of an affect someone else’s opinion, or society’s opinion, can have on your views, both positive and negative. It also goes to show that you should always keep an open mind and although it might seem like all eyes are on you, it’s likely that your mind is just playing tricks on you. It’s best to get out of your head and take things for what they are, instead of what you think they are! Take time to really consider what you believe in, your views, and your opinions, instead of just assuming that you have the same beliefs, views, and opinions as those you surrounded yourself with!
So, what’s my opinion of self-help now? It is positively life changing! It’s being self-aware. It’s pushing yourself to become a better version of you. It’s giving you the tools to make a positive influence on those around you and your own life. It’s creating a marriage that people will envy but you don’t care because you’ve learned to not care what other people think! It’s following your dreams and pushing your limits and believing in yourself!
I’ve never felt so in-tune with what I should be doing. I spent a long time praying to find my purpose and I feel that I’ve found it. If you haven’t been around here long, you’ll soon find that I’m a little obsessed with it, self-help, personal development, self-growth, whichever term you use to describe it. I honestly believe that you’ll be a better person for diving into it and seeing what it truly has to offer. It’s helping me become the best version of myself.
I’m so grateful that Shane and I were as mature as we were at 19 years old, to take steps to improving our relationship instead of giving up and believing that “there must be something wrong with us for seeking out a self-help book to improve our relationship”.
If you’ve had, or have, similar beliefs that self-help is a joke or that it’s for broken people, I dare you to dive into it, read a book and/or listen to a podcast, test it out and see how you like it. Push past your limiting beliefs. What’s the worst that could happen? You find that it’s not for you, or maybe it will change your life for the better. Maybe it won’t, but I’d be willing to bet, that you’ll be able to take something from it.
Let’s change this negative perspective of self-help so more people can start taking steps to improving their lives, instead of feeling stuck in these thought that life can’t get better, because it can! Sometimes you just need a little guidance, some new tools, and a path to something better!
What was your first impression of self-help? Do you still think this way, or has it changed? I’d love to hear from you!
“You created the reality you now exist in with your thoughts, which means you can use the very same power of thought to change it.”
– Jen Sincero