I had downloaded an excerpt of a self-help book to my Kindle to see if I wanted to buy it or now when I noticed what was already on my Kindle. There, staring at me in the face, was a “pile” of other half-read self-help books that I’d purchased previously. If it isn’t bad enough that I have a bookcase shelf Full of half-read books I’m meaning to come back to, now I have it on my Kindle as well.
Last week I didn’t read any self-help books. I read filmmaking books, novels, and lounged around on my futon reading “O” and “National Geographic.” I got my mojo back. I started having fun again. Maybe a little too much fun, if you take the alarmed stares of the other passengers on the bus as I worked really hard to repress the urge to start barking and panting at them like some overeager Rottweiler. That urge, even suppressed, was a joy to experience. I slept like a baby. I thought my sleep problems were over.
Then I looked at my Kindle and saw the pile of books waiting for me to read them, so I started reading them again and I again entered the Hell of anxiety and sleepless nights.
This is bullshit, I thought, plain crazy talk. Aren’t these books supposed to HELP us? Aren’t they wisdom and guidance to help life be the best it can be? They are well meaning. I believe that. These people discovered something, that if we take it to heart, can help enhance our experience. I do believe that. There is no sinister plot to keep us in our box. Well, at least not a Self-Help book oriented sinister plot…. Sometimes I believe that as well.
No, I don’t think it’s the books themselves. They are fairly benign. I think that it’s the way they are approached that’s the problem.
Here’s the way I bought my last self-help book: I went to East West bookstore and was browsing the new books when I came upon a book “The Art of Uncertainty,” yes, I think that was the name. The first thing I thought was “oh yes, we do live in uncertain times, I need some of that,” and went home and bought it on my Kindle. What am I telling myself? Let’s see….that life is uncertain and that I’m unable to deal with it. That I need help. That reading yet another book will fix me. That I’m a flawed human, maybe even undeserving and unworthy. What a bummer. No wonder I can’t sleep. No wonder I get anxious. I’m a worm.
What if I changed the way I looked at it, went in with an altered point of view? Oh, “The Art of Uncertainty,” why yes we do live in uncertain times but one thing I am certain of is that I will be able to handle anything that comes. Why? Because I will. I’m glorious just the way I am. Plus, everything gets handled, one way or another. Is it possible that this book will give me even more tools to make uncertainty manageable? Will it help me think about it in another, more positive way? Will it give me insight into other people’s struggles and increase my empathy? Well then yes, I’ll go home and buy it on my Kindle (sorry East West).
I start reading and if there is any yapping about how I’m inferior or there are any shaming techniques, then I go to the review sites are start raising hell. (There’s a little part of me that still feels the need to protect the masses.) I delete the book and move on.
The book is meant to service ME. If it’s not going to do any more good than to point out my flaws then it’s not in my service. I’m great just the way I am, just like the rest of you. I may tweak a little but I’m no longer going to accept any more suggestions that I’m flawed. I know that supposedly I can learn something from everyone, but abusive people turn me off.
So, no more self-help books unless I truly think there is something there for me. And I have permission to not finish them and even delete them if they ask for it. I have permission to be who I am and to not feel flawed. I have permission to no longer compare myself to ANYONE. Everyone is crazy as hell, just like me, my crazy is just as valuable as their crazy. I LOVE my crazy and I’m going to do something very creative with it. Ha! Just wait and see! Anxiety and sleeplessness can kiss my ass.
I guess maybe I should get back to work now….