The self-help challenge

Humans are in an endless struggle to "find themselves" and the multitude of self-help books and workshops on the meaning of the self, as well as life, are living proof. Perfectly alphabetized rows of books after books describe countless categories from which to choose from: diet, depression, style, and more. They are flavors, and as the shoppers we flip through their pages - getting a taste - and determine just which one is the best for us.

But if we were to dissect and strip down those pages, we would realize just how homogeneous they all are. Ultimately, all ask us to: be ourselves, love ourselves, explore and experiment, exercise, and drink plenty of water. Life is short, they'll tell us, so "make it count". We'll probably feel enlightened. And we'll certainly feel renewed. Yet how often do those feelings dissipate, and we return to how we started? Somehow, no matter how much we read and commit to those messages to memory, none of them stick. So we need to ask ourselves: "Do I know what question it is that I am trying to answer? And if so, is it possible that I hold the answer?" 

Underlying feelings of despair or dissatisfaction may be more complex than any inspirational quote can resolve. Before we swallow all of the tips and tricks to a better life, we need analyze our current state of being. More often than not, we know the root of our problem. We may not need a book or an individual to tell us what the problem is. It might just be that we want validation; we want someone to tell us what we already know. We shouldn't become accustomed to binging through self-help after self-help (all the while making another richer and richer), and instead commit to discovering what our true struggle is; and establishing what problems we are facing, and why we are unhappy or dissatisfied. It might be work, our careers, our education choices, or even the people we are around.

I often ask someone "what do you think?" while fully knowing what it is that needs to change. At times I hope that they won't notice the kinks, thus allowing me to continue with the flaws - never changing anything. Other times, I want them to tell me. I need to have someone else dispel me from my illusion. It's those hard answers we're always seeking. Yet in all actuality, we've already said them to ourselves once or twice before.

My challenge is this: take a moment - a quiet moment - to yourself. It need only take 10 minutes. And tell yourself this: "I am dissatisfied with my life because..." and you'll find that you do know what comes after. Then say to yourself: "The only way to alleviate this problem is to..." When you know what you need to do, then go looking for information (even in a self-help book) that provides you with the necessary knowledge and tools to make that change. And then commit to moving towards a future that will be more aligned with your expectations of life and your future.