As a life coach and yoga teacher, I survive on a healthy diet of books, tapes, webinars, and Super Soul Sunday.
I have probably spent millions of dollars over the course of my life trying to figure out who the hell I am and what is my true purpose in life. I have been uncovering my “authentic self.”
Yesterday, I had an epiphany.
I just may murder the next person who says “authentic self”.
I am totally over self-help.
See, here is the problem. The self-help industry, billions of dollars exchanged annually, tends to act as if we are not okay, we’ll probably never be okay, and that the answer to our not-okayness is “out there…” If we read the book, buy the CD series, eat the diet supplement or buy the quick fix, we will suddenly feel as though everything is better. It’s intoxicating, addicting and is the shiny object on the end of a fishing pole that keeps being dangled in front of us with the promise of “everything could be better than it is!”
The unwritten thesis is we are broken, we are not enough, and by doing X, we will be “better.”
I personally have bought into this idea hook, line, and sinker. When I get restless or unsure of myself in my life, I want someone else to tell me what the hell to do. I look for the “a-ha!” moment that has to be right around the corner, just waiting to be discovered. If only I am in the right place at the right time, I will finally “get it” and find the clue that will lead me to happiness and fulfillment and allow me to live my quote unquote authentic life.
Sadly, this is a lie.
It takes all the responsibility for my happiness out of my own hands and puts in squarely in the hands of Oprah and her guest de jour. How empowering is that?
This is how I see the truth.
We are not broken and needing to be “helped” or “fixed.” We are already where we should be.
The answers don’t lie inside the glossy pages of a magazine or between the lines of a book on the shelf in the personal growth section. In fact, the self-help industry can actually keep us further from ourselves by distracting us from our truest experience in the moment. If we blocked out the noise from “out there” we could focus on trusting the truth that lives “in here.”
Self-help can be an addiction that keeps us from hearing our own truth.
Yesterday, I spent some time at a large women’s expo in my hometown. I left feeling sad and deflated—there were so many vendors there that seemed to be telling women that they were not enough. The overarching message was: if you buy product X, you’ll feel more like the woman you are meant to be.
The lowlight was a booth promising weight loss of 25lbs in 15 days. When I started to ask questions, it boiled down to paying $1800 and eating no more than 800 calories a day. Brilliant self-help strategy.
I wanted to scream at all the surrounding people. “Screw all these people telling you that you are not enough, that you need to lose weight, get longer lashes and prettier nails and underwear that sucks in your guts and looks sexy.”
I wanted to stand in front of this booth asking women to talk about what they already love about their bodies, what their best qualities were, and how they were planning on contributing to the world. Alas, people were more interested in the quick fix.
No “expert” can tell us what we know deep inside or that we are already authentic. We are already whole. We don’t need to be fixed. What we need is to come home to ourselves, to stand deeply in what is real for us, and to be honest about what is happening in our lives.
I will never stop learning, reading, and exploring. I encourage everyone to do the same. To approach advice carefully and ask how it resonates with what we already know to be true. We already know what makes sense, we already know our truth. We just need to get out of our own way.
We may always be tempted by the shiny new fix, the solution that finally makes it all click. After 30 years of trying, I’m here to tell you, the magic, “a-ha,” tweetable moment is not going to fix something that isn’t broken. Instead of the short-term relief of a new purchase, diet, product or solution, we can pause in the moment, take three deep breaths, and ask, “what do I know in my heart to be true?”
This is the true means to helping the self.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Katie Hill
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: via Flickr