Just Help Yourself
October 19, 2015 4:25am CST
As I was sorting through some old books last night I came across the literary equivalent to the espresso machine. Most of us have bought one, used it once or twice and then left it to gather dust. I am, of course, talking about the self-help book. How many of us, when going through a bit of a bad patch, whether its work related, a dodgy relationship or just life in general getting us down, have turned to one of the ever growing number of self-help books certain that it will change our lives? We start reading, full of hope and expectation that in just a few weeks we will have lost that weight; be more popular; secured that promotion or just generally be far happier with our lot. We nod sagely at the words of wisdom that leap out of the pages, imagining ourselves putting it all into practice and achieving everything we dream of. That is until we come across the first exercise. The first exercise may be as simple as listing your pet hates or describing the ten darkest places your parents locked you in as a child. No matter how simple, it is the make or break point of your journey to a better you. Unfortunately most of us break! And the reason we break? Because this is the point at which we actually have to do something other than sit on our collective backside and turn a few pages. It is at this point the book is condemned to one of two fates. Most probably it will find itself in a cupboard where it will eventually be re-discovered and sent to the local charity shop. The more fortunate of these publications, those that have gone to more enlightened upper middle-class households, will be left to lie around on a coffee table (hand-crafted by an obscure pygmy tribe) to show how 'in touch with ourselves' the owners are the next time Tarquin and Jocasta pop round to share a herbal enema. It really should come as no surprise to us that we are going to have to put in a bit of effort to achieve our dreams. After all, the clue is in the name. Self-help!! But these days we are much too busy (usually telling everyone how busy we are) to invest the time and effort to help ourselves. We want to buy a book, read it and magically become the person the book promises without moving from our mental sofa. Let's face it, if a book could actually do that it would probably have been written centuries ago by some Far-Eastern mystic. It would be guarded by a complex maze of obstacles, mythical creatures and lethal traps requiring a quest of Indiana Jones proportions to earn the right to read so much as a single word. It certainly wouldn't have been written by an American housewife in the eighties and merely require a trip into the book shop and a bit of a wait at the till! I'm not knocking these books, or the people who write them. After all, they've been paid to write material that nobody reads while I'm sat here doing it for nothing! There are actually some very sound words of advice in self-help books. Unfortunately, for our 'something for nothing' society, they require a bit of effort on our part for results to be achieved. So if you are in a bit of a rut and you have one of these books, dig it out and give it another go. But this time promise yourself that you will put in the necessary effort to do it justice. If you have already donated yours to charity then get yourself down to the charity shop and buy back that copy of "Enlightenment Through Herbal Enemas". And if herbal enemas aren't your cup of tea then stop drinking them!
12 people like this
• Cambridge, England
19 Oct 15
I think that I need that copy of "10 Best Verbal Enemas" to get my two typing fingers moving again! Yes, I really ought to blow the dust off "Easy Ebay (1992)", "First Steps in BBC Basic" and "How to Write a Killer CV" (and several others) and drop them off at the charity shop!
3 people like this
19 Oct 15
We have reorganized the understairs two weeks ago and I have found two boxes full of books that we bought and were so uninteresting that were put away to give to charity. As I have found other things, I am asking them to come and collect all that garbage.
• United Kingdom
19 Oct 15
That's so true. We picked up a children's picture book called 'When Wishing Comes True' and honestly its as good as any self-help book. It's about two friends who dream their dreams, and at the end it says: First dream Then do That's when wishing comes true. Many adults could learn from that - just sitting around wishing is not enough!
• Manchester, England
19 Oct 15
It's something I'm extremely guilty of myself. When I was younger I always had the attitude of 'something will just happen, everything will just work out in the end'. As I've got older I realise that herbal enemas don't just happen by accident. Despite what I told the receptionist at A&E!!
• Mandurah, Australia
19 Oct 15
I'm sure there are some self help books that are useful. I haven't found too many myself but my clients tell me that some do help. I reckon we can read these books take out what helps us and discount the rest if it isn't useful
• Boise, Idaho
19 Oct 15
It's the human element. We have something that is either our pet peeve or a favorite subject. I found one years ago what was about beauty and nutrients. I shared with friends, found copies at yard sales to share even further. I don't know if I have a copy of it left. It's a great book for the young lady who wants to do it right but doesn't know how.
19 Oct 15
How good books are when they get dust for being untouched for several months to years are good for nothing. Self-help books are practical books on doing life's task under the sun easy. If these books are no longer being read in your small library, better donate them to schools, to community reading centers for they're be of help.