My personal journey into the self help industry started 15 years ago, after I had my first son. I was a single mother and in the time I spent alone raising him, I realized I had some major issues that needed more than just an armchair analysis from a therapist. I needed to dig deep into my belief system that was causing me to sabotage my life and make unhealthy decisions. I remember walking through the book store, flitting from Self Help, to New Age, to Diet and Nutrition. I had no idea where to start. With so many books, it gave me the sense that I’d never be good enough, or that I’d never finish improving. It felt like I was embarking upon an endless path of introspection that would always lead me striving for perfection. Many of my clients today feel the same way when they are just opening up to the self help industry.
What we need to remember is that the self help industry, is just that- an industry. So it must continually offer new insights and products. As an industry, there are both good and bad resources. Many times I will find myself reading an article or book from a well established “expert” only to find that I may not agree with them 100%, and that doesn’t make them wrong or bad. Like everything, it’s up to us to decide which messages to apply to our own lives.
When you come into the self help industry in desperation (like I did years ago) trying to permanently change yourself, you’ll never be satisfied. Like an addict, always searching for “it”, always needing a fix, you will be left back at square one after the high of enlightened advice or the feeling of an empowering seminar. The misunderstanding here is that there really is no “there”. There is no promised land- a place where we finally arrive and then our lives are perfect with no interruption or conflict. The idea is that as we become more ok with ourselves, we can better handle conflict in our lives.
In truth, it’s only when we stop hurling ourselves into an idealized future that we can find what we’re searching for. Consider the basis of most spiritual teachings: An infinite unchanging reality resides at the core of every being. To experience this reality is to know that we are divine, and that everything that has happened or ever will happen is for our ultimate highest good. Sometimes we fall into the trap that we can’t feel bliss until after we’ve meditated for hours, studied under a guru, gone to every spiritual seminar, read every self help book, etc. I urge you to continue learning and growing through books and seminars, but also try to incorporate appreciating you as you are right now, in this moment. I always tell people, “no worries, no hurries.” When we get good at staying present, we stop striving so hard. When we get good at listening to our own inner voice, we stop going into debt paying for advice from the outside. Self improvement is an ongoing game- fun, educational, and always fascinating.
To learn more about Crystal, visit her website at www.clarityistheway.com and become a fan of Clarity is The Way on Facebook.