* I originally wrote this post and it was published on MindBodyGreen.com, JANUARY 29, 2014 5:12 AM EST*
I’ve been on personal quest, for what feels like a very long time, to find healing and happiness in my life. It seems I started this process at a very young age, always questioning my purpose, and trying to find the “solution” so that I could finally feel good about myself.
I went into the helping profession because I wanted to be an advocate and a role model for other young women who may be struggling with the same insecurities, fears, and addictions that I was. More than that, I think I was hoping that with enough therapy and education I’d be able to heal myself.
I’m a self-help connoisseur with a bookshelf full of books claiming to help me manifest my best self, lose 10 pounds in 10 hours, and make a million dollars — I know I’m not the only one!
Understandably, there is a lot of skepticism out there about the self-help industry, but I believe the problem actually lies in our expectations of self-help books, and specifically our misunderstanding of what it means to really help ourselves.
Here are the five myths about self-help that need to be debunked in order for us to recognize our growth:
1. You’ll reach a point where you’ll never need outside help.
Personal growth isn’t just a one-and-done process. It’s a nice idea that we could just simply read a book and gain all of the insight and wisdom that we need to carry us through a lifetime of happiness. The journey of healing is an ever-evolving process. Most of us are like onions; we continue to keep peeling back the layers, exposing more of ourselves. Few of us ever reach a point where we simply think, “Hmmm, that’s it. I’m good, I’m done.”
2. You’ll reach a point where life won’t be hard anymore.
Life is hard, and that’s OK. So many of us struggle with the misconception that if we’re feeling bad, we must be failing at this healing process. The fact is, we’re human, and healing happens when we allow space for ALL of our experiences, the ups and the downs. It’s usually the deepest pain that empowers us to grow to into our full potential. Without pain, there would be no change. But remember, pain, just like everything in life, is meant to be learned from and released.
3. There’s something wrong with you.
You’re not broken, and you don’t need to be fixed. It’s easy to convince ourselves that we wouldn’t feel so bad if we could only fix some aspect of ourselves. However, we often suffer because we fight so hard against everything that hurts. We cause ourselves more pain by telling ourselves we shouldn’t be feeling it. The challenge isn’t learning how to “fix” ourselves, but finding it in us to accept our discomfort. We all have challenges and difficult times, but this doesn’t make us damaged; it makes us human.
4. Gurus know better.
Many of us struggle to believe that we can truly trust ourselves to know what’s best. We lose sight of our true selves by listening to the expectations of others and the teachings of the healers. It’s important to remember that we are all in this together. Even gurus have bad days.
5. Motivation or inspiration will come from outside yourself.
How much time have you wasted in your life waiting for the mood to strike you? We often think we need more knowledge, or motivation, or for the insecurities to leave us before we can move forward, but this type of thinking just stifles our personal growth. We can’t think our way into good action; we have to act our way into good thinking. You’re able to take action and embrace moments of opportunity today, even though you probably won’t ever feel 100% ready for them.