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Self-Help in Recovery: If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Is

The self-help industry generates over $10 billion dollars annually in America alone. It’s obvious that America wants to improve itself – we all want to improve ourselves in some way.

Our very nature as a species is to continue to find ways to move past our blocks in life and create our hopes and dreams. The self-help industry is one place that many people turn to in effort to generate change. For those it works for, fantastic! But what about all the people that are hopping from one self-help method to another, without results?

For you, I write this article.

Examining the Self-Help Industry

I want to start with getting clear on what the self-help industry is all about. It’s about change and it’s also about profit. Things get packaged into neat little bundles and sold. Considerable time and energy are spent writing content designed to both inspire and evoke a sense of “I need this” from people. There can be promises of grandiose proportions if you just follow the simple steps outlined. It’s as if there really are “5 Simple Steps to Happiness.” Do you really believe that if this were the case, there would be any unhappy people left?

Let’s take the new-age movement for example. There are some really fantastic teachings and principles within this transformation structure. Yet, most often when the Law of Attraction is taught, people walk away believing that their mind is responsible for everything in their lives. This can lead to self-blame and misunderstanding of why someone might be suffering. There is a tendency to buy into the fact that they must have attracted it from their thinking mind. It is just not that simple. This does not account for the power of the subconscious or the spiritual laws that govern our reality.

The Law of Attraction is simple, yet incredibly deep, and it’s often taught in a way that does not reveal the entire truth of how it works. True healing and transformation will never promote blame, inward or outward. In writing this, I also realize that sometimes the blame comes from how someone may interpret the information, leaving them with an incomplete understanding and a propensity toward self-blame when things do not go as planned. This is representative of an incomplete understanding of this teaching.

A Self-Help Promise to the Recovery Community

People in recovery of course want to utilize the power that can lie within the self-help world. There are many, many amazing teachers who offer depth, integrity, and tools that support people in creating shifts in their lives. This is what I hope you bring into your world. My invitation is making sure that it doesn’t sound too easy. Consider if it’s a magical fix fantasy or if it actually would require you to go on a deep inward journey. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

I believe that transformation can be done in a way where you feel lighter and lighter as you peel off all that weighs you down. It most certainly does not have to be a sluggish, painful process! But it does have to be realistic.-Lesley Wirth

I believe that transformation can be done in a way where you feel lighter and lighter as you peel off all that weighs you down. It most certainly does not have to be a sluggish, painful process! But it does have to be realistic.

Self-help requires that we work on helping ourselves. In other words, it requires some effort and awareness. It requires our intention to make a change. That means that we are willing to be honest and gently start to work on our inner-world, so that our outer world can come to reflect it. It is true, we are the creators of our reality, yet again, if that is not understood in its entirety, you can see how more self-blame could come in. This is why I believe it’s very important to properly educate and be educated on the depths of these new age ideas.

There are many teachers and guides out there these days who are legitimate and support true healing. Some of the more well-known are Brene Brown, Jon Kabit-Zinn, Pema Chodren, and Jeff Brown. The important part is finding who actually resonates with you. It may even be a much lesser-known person. The people I listed here are people who are real about what it is like to be human. They are not trying to pitch anything. They are not telling you to follow an over-simplified process. Instead, they recognize that the greatest demons many of us face live within our minds, and that our greatest power is working with ourselves, rather than against ourselves. This is what substantial self-help looks like.

Finding What Works Best For You

While in recovery, it is a time of basics. A time of finding a new baseline and new order to things. It’s a time of great possibility. Recovery can open people up to trying new things, which generates a desire to explore the world of self-help. I celebrate this. I honor this. And I hope you find what you are looking for.

Some of My Favorite Self-Help Books:

  • The Places that Scare You by Pema Chodren
  • Loyalty to Your Soul by Ron and Mary Hulnick
  • Eating in the Light of the Moon by Dr. Anita Johnston

A Few Popular Self-Help Books:

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabit-Zinn
  • Women Food and God by Geneen Roth
  • The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown


Images Courtesy of iStock

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