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The Problem With Self Help

Hiking is a highly effective way to forget about your ego and be in the present! This is from my hike up Mt. Talpus in summer 2009.

The problem with self-help books, tapes and programs as they are commonly presented in bookstores and seminars is that they cater to the “self.” This is an issue since the self that desperately needs help is exactly the same self that is trying to help itself! It’s like trying to pick yourself up by your own bootstraps, it’s an impossible task. This is the issue with so many personal development and self-help approaches. They rely on some sheer force of will, ridiculous effort or some crazy process of control to create a change. These approaches simply strengthen the very things we must begin to let go of to achieve any sense of true personal growth, the ego.

This is where meditation fits in. When practiced without focus on outcome or desire, it provides a shim against the force of will that we apply in most every endeavor we take up. It allows one to grow without feeding the ego. It can help to undo the egotistical build up we experience throughout other activity. Through simply witnessing breath and becoming aware of what “is,” there is an increased capacity to see things objectively throughout all of life. It is perhaps the only form of self-help that is truly effective.


  1. Jerie says:

    Yet again you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. I have been devouring self-help material for years and years, I stop and start, I leave it alone and then come but progress has been very slow. But I started meditating when you started your 30 day challenge. I can’t say I have been as consistent as that, possibly because I set myself the difficult challenge of meditating three time a day. But this is a lesson in itself. Some dramatic shifts have starting taking place. Through your guidance I have been able to focus on my breath and empty my mind. The meditations are a timed 20 minutes. What has happened is I have gotten very emotional and came down with the worst cold I’ve had in three years. I’ve heard that colds are your body’s way of purging something emotional it doesn’t want or need anymore. That’s exactly how this cold is feeling.

    I always look forward to you posts. Thank you.


  2. A very insightful post. In a way, your words have increased my awareness about tackling my -self-help issues. It now makes sense to try and experiment with this though of self-help through meditation.

    In a similar fashion, maybe we read self-help books to learn about an idea that may make sense and implementing it may actually help us!

    I would consider your idea as a self-help tip. Thanks!

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