I’ve found there are two general opinions on the idea of self-help content. Consumers have either been sucked in by the “hype” – or as Wikipedia call it, the “post-modern cultural phenomenon” of the twentieth century (were writers only just learning they could make millions from one of the body’s main organs – in more ways than one?) – or alternatively, there is a certain degree of scepticism surrounding this notion. I was one of the sceptics, in that self-help material sat in a similar category to hypnotic books telling me I could lose weight, become a CEO, stop my child from embarrassing me in front of other mothers and all the rest of it – nobody was telling my brain what to do! Note one word here: was.
After giving birth, losing sleep, friends and sacrificing work and play in the real world to work and play at home, the situation in my own brain began to change. My son is the purest, most joy enabling human being I have ever set my eyes upon. No matter how much he refuses to feed, or how many tantrums he has – yes they do happen at just five months old – I will always view him as a blessing. For as long as my back continues to break from lifting his growing body, my university assignments sitting uncompleted to show him love and play, the dog moaning and tugging on my other arm for want of attention, I will be thankful and amazed at having him as the biggest part of my life. Obsessively so.
So, what happened? Over thinking, mainly. I have never been the slim friend or the woman who could find her size in nice clothes easily – and if I did, I would believe I couldn’t pull them off. I’ve thought of myself as a wanderer, a dreamer, a chance-taker. I had a philosophy of always trying something once, keeping an open mind and trying as hard as I could to enjoy life. I wanted to travel the world. Then I began to feel cooped up, frustrated and ugly – disgusting, actually. I didn’t think I was good enough for the rest of the world, so I put off any social encounters, most of the time blaming it on the fact I wanted to keep up with routine, when in reality, I had developed a sort of social anxiety. I felt that low, that the books I had mocked previously, I purchased.
“The Confidence Gap” by Dr Russ Harris. The introduction alone promises the book is not like the rest out there, the ones that claim to change your world in a few simple steps, without really putting the hard work in. Still, the idea of this book is complicated to me. Surely, if you want to get away from feeling self-hatred, self-doubt, or self-whatever-else, you need to step outside your mind for a while instead of delving deeper into it. This is surely mine, and many others’ problem – over thinking. There have been times where, not only would I have loved a different body than my own, but I would have loved to have not been inside my own head. My thoughts haunted me, annoyed me to no end. Without reading the remainder of the book, I can work out that in order to live a fulfilling life, both externally and as your own person, you need to find strength all on your own. Forget exercises, suggestions and psychologists who will never know your most inner thoughts. These books attempt to banish any negative thought that passes through your mind’s channels. But are they not there for a reason? Are these thoughts not there for you to fight, thus forming you into a stronger person? In my situation, I feel not thinking about thinking works. I don’t want someone I’ve never met to guide me. I need to do that all by myself. These books will work, but only for so long.
Someone sat on the fence
Neither cynic nor believer