Self Help is an Oxymoron

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes words that appear to be contradictory. For me, the term self-help fits this idea perfectly. So many people think they can help themselves all by themselves and this is not the case as I have witnessed over my 30 year career. Every day, I hear the words “I tried to figure out what to do and it hasn’t worked.” These same people have read books and can even quote the appropriate phrases and still their actions and words are not taking them where they want to go. Thus, self-help is an oxymoron!

Recently, a prospective client said to me “Well, you know Dianne, I have studied a lot of self-help so I pretty much know what to do.” I listened to this person share all manner of struggles from health challenges to personal and business relationship struggles. From there, I heard about being overwhelmed and depressed often. This conversation reminded me of a quandary that often happens as I work with people individually or in a group. That is when they say something like: “Alright, I have learned what I need. I have taken the notes and can refer to them at a later time. Now, I am good to go, thank you.” This simply doesn’t work. If knowledge alone was the answer, many of the world problems would not be plaguing our societies. Some say knowledge is power and I typically say that applied knowledge accesses power.

Self-help alone doesn’t work for many reasons. First is the belief that every person is doing their best with their accessible resources in any given moment and most have exhausted their resources before seeking any kind of assistance. Many people need a big crisis in order to stop and ask for help. Still others have the help imposed on them after a major calamity of some kind. So, self-help alone is ineffective or there wouldn’t be a need for the helpers of the world.

Intelligent people struggle the most I believe. They often say “I can figure it out”. Well, some things are not to be figured out and going down that rabbit hole causes even more struggles and frustrations. For many, if they could have figured it out on their own they would have and still their best figuring didn’t work. So, it is time for connection with another in order to actually make progress toward goals or out of pain.
I believe that there is much more to helping yourself than intellectually learning something or knowing facts. I believe that the heart is the crucial element and it must be aligned with the intellect in order for real, authentic help to be realized or received. In these cases where being intellectually dominated runs the show, you must begin to bring the heart into alignment with the mind. A life without heart is empty and often frustrating. This is not the goal!

Humans cannot grow or thrive in isolation. We must have connection with others who understand us and to whom we can feel connected on a heart level. Self-help implies that “I can do it myself”. This is simply not the case for any kind of lasting result. Read the self-help literature. I have written 2 books for those who want to read: How to Quit Anything in 5 Simple Steps and The Loneliness Cure: A Guide to Contentment. Even with reading many self-help books, your real growth comes through opening your heart and spirit to another way. By taking the cognitive lessons from reading or workshops and opening your heart and spirit, you will then actualize your vision and heart’s desire. No one of the areas alone is effective.

There is much more to life than living in your head and numbing or denying the awesome power of your emotions and heart’s desires. When you are seeking a full and amazing life experience, remember that self-help can be misleading. After reading the learning the cognitive information, become open and willing. This is where the real richness and depth of life is found!

2 Comments on “Self Help is an Oxymoron”

  1. When I first read that self- help was an oxymoron, it truly made me laugh out loud. A truer statement has never been made; nor has the message been delivered so eloquently. Thank you Dianne!

  2. Been that…Now I check with others and look for the application of this new found knowledge…how’s that working for you?

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