When Self-Help doesn’t help!

Who out there is a personal development book junkie?  I confess I own just a few.  Some I’ve read and got a lot of benefit from.  Some remain in the stack of books I’m yet to get to (and I have to ask myself for what reason I’m procrastinating about reading those!)

To be clear, I’m not about to bash personal development books and their brilliant authors.  Anything out there that helps us to better understand how our brains and emotions work, and how to get better results in the world is a great resource.  But there’s a pattern I’m seeing with clients and have certainly experienced myself in the past.

Self Help only gets you so far….

Reading and understanding can give us tremendous insight into how we operate, what we believe and where it came from.  This is so valuable.  Sometimes that awareness can be enough to makes shifts. 

Many books include practical guidance, models and exercises which help us change our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.  But…. How many of us really do the practical bit.  Have you ever read the book through first, promising you’ll get back to the exercises later?  Did you?  Did you really fully experience the practice?  Or did you read to understand but not ‘do’ or ‘change’.

When we read to understand we arm ourselves with new ideas and concepts.  There can be a downside. We have all this greater understanding, know where our problems stem from and what we can do to change them, but nothing actually changes.  Being armed with all the theory can sometimes leave us feeling worse!  Its like having a diagnosis, being given the prescription but never actually cashing it in.

All the time we are feeding the logical conscious part of our brain with data.  With only 4-8% of our total brain capacity being conscious thought, if the other 92% of our brain has other ideas, it will win.  The old thoughts, feelings and behaviours will persist.

Add to this that most change is made when we have emotional shifts, well below our conscious awareness.  If you’re reading, learning, acquiring understanding and still feeling stuck, it could be because you’re only employing the logical part of your brain.

This week I’ve been working with two clients who came to me knowing all about their problems but feeling totally stuck on how to move them.  They had both done a lot of reading and research.  Working one to one and exploring their unconscious emotions, patterns and responses they are now making quick progress. 


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