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The Self-help that Actually Helps

In the days BC (before Corona), I was buzzing with life as we all were. Rushing around without the slightest clue of what lay ahead but determined to complete the school year with more joyous moments than sh*tty ones. It was a challenge at times but I have taught myself the difference between acknowledging the fears/troubles over carrying them all day/every day at no benefit to anyone.

I am an anxious person by nature so it took a lot of work (and still does) to not dwell, to let things go and move forward despite what might happen. Did I still have moments, absolutely. I’m human and as we grow, there will always be new things that come up and force you to learn a new lesson.

Fast forward to about a month ago, I struck up a conversation with a friend about how I was having a hard time centering myself and just could not stay focused. I couldn’t work on my manuscript or even enjoy the pleasure of reading a book in general because my thoughts would be racing at warp speed. (I know I am not alone in this)

I chose to do physical things to keep myself from spiraling, which works to an extent. But I was realizing that I can’t ignore the emotions attached to what has happened. I can flush out the physical anxiety long enough to be “wife and mother” but I was becoming increasingly tense and unable to detach from the scary.

My friend suggested meditation and considering she has always been a bit of an inspiration for me on many fronts, I WANTED to take that advice.

But I mean, if you’ve met me at all… the idea of sitting still to do NOTHING but think makes me WILDLY anxious. The closest thing I can come to meditation is a good run/bike ride or incorporating whatever troubles me, into my writing. That’s just how I am however, when I looked into the book she suggested and realized the author was just as neurotic as I am… I thought she might be on to something.

I loathe self-help. They’re right up the with MLM schemes to me and I (personally) find them cheesy and disconnected. Not to say they don’t help people, they just don’t help ME.

But, I thought I’d give this book a shot because quarantine and why the hell not?

I don’t know if it’s because he works in the industry I began in (and ran screaming from) or that he had an incredibly intimidating boss/mentor that reminded me of one I’d had or his cynicism about meditation at all, but I was hooked.

One thing I did relate to that he’d learned along his spiritual journey, is that you have to be OK knowing that things will not always work out how you expect or plan them to. This translates to ANY aspect of your life. Starting a career, finding a spouse (or choosing not to), starting a family and everything in between.

I spent a lot of time worrying before I even wrote my first book. I’d done all my internal pep-talking before becoming a mother, but I hadn’t stretched that into anything else. I didn’t (and still don’t) care what anyone thinks of my parenting choices, how I handle my household etc, but I DID care if people said my book was shit.

It took another year plus to crash and burn all my “work” to realize I was not as confident as I thought I was on the whole.

Dan Harris - the author of 10% Happier spoke about these incredible people he’d had the opportunity to meet and it’s no shock that I will never have the same… but I have met people in my life who have given me beautiful advice and I think it’s important to see those moments and cherish them if you are able to recognize when they happen.

I think that’s the takeaway for me with this wonderful book. He unknowingly wrote a guideline for picking apart your own hangups and accepting the good from others and piecing together the type of person YOU want to be that will not only make YOU that much more comfortable in your own skin, but also attract the kind of people that make you want to keep being that person, and alternately setting boundaries for those that don’t.

Learn to accept the unknown and be confident that as long as you just do your best and lead with a genuine heart, it will work out. It may not be how YOU want it to, but that’s OK!

Also, don’t be a dick.

Don’t be so proud of yourself that you think that anyone who isn’t doing what YOU’RE doing is wrong. Everyone has their own journey and we can benefit greatly by appreciating the differences in our journeys and learn to celebrate that rather than question or criticize it. Either in each other or ourselves.

I highly recommend this book because it serves as a witty and insightful reminder that we can chill the F*CK out and still be a badass.

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