Do Self-Help resources really help you?

It is said that “God helps them that helps themselves”. It’s quite true. But nowadays, Self-Help resources like books, magazines, blogs, and videos help people a lot. One should always thrive to improve self and in that endeavour taking help of such resources is not a sin. One who wants to improve “intellectually” is advised (by the Self-Help authors) to ask three questions prior to do anything: What, Why, and How. So why not apply these questions to the Self-Help resources itself? What is Self-Help? Why do I need Self-Help? How will I find ways to Self-Help? Let’s deal with each of them.

Wikipedia defines Self-Help as a self-guided improvement—economically, intellectually, or emotionally—often with a substantial psychological basis. For me Self-Help is nothing but an attempt to make ourselves what we desire out of ourselves. It’s like improving ourselves daily. It’s learning. The term Metanoia – the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self or way of life – suits perfectly to this context.

I remember that in my career as an engineering student we had a book by Dale Carnegie – Art of Public Speaking – in our curriculum. After reading the gist I wondered and asked myself a question: Do I really need to read the book prior to speaking in public? The question had an essence of self-confidence mixed with sarcasm. At the same time there were few students in my class who lacked the self-confidence that they can be a good orator held the book as a “divine blessing”.  I never meant to disrespect the author and at the same time I never meant to underestimate myself. The author has given his best to the bestselling book around the globe. I read the book and adored it. Reading such texts one would surely develop a notion about learning through Self-Help resources. Recently I read an article being published on the World Wide Web dealing with matters of Love. It had everything starting from “how to ask a girl for a date” to “how to end a relationship like a real man”. I just broke into laughter. My point is one need to reach such resources only when she/he has the confidence that she/he cannot do a thing but has a desire to do it.

Now the last question is quite interesting and important. How will I Help Myself? Now every Self-Help material starts their mentoring with this question. In my childhood I used to hear lots of stories from my grandma and my mother. At the end of the stories they used to give me moral-of-the-story, followed with a question: Did you understand? Well I never understood anything because I used to “hear” them. There were proverbs written on the walls of our classroom. I used to read them, but never thought about what they mean. As soon as my parents allowed me to live with the attitude “let me handle myself” I started encountering problems. My problems are the opening doors to start helping myself. Understanding self is the foremost thing one should do. Knowing one’s strength and weakness helps a lot. It makes you strong, confident, and a good learner. Improve on your weakness to transform them into your strengths. Now I don’t hear, but listen. I don’t read, but understand. I don’t see but observe.

A friend of mine had a breakup with his girlfriend. It was hard time for him. Soon he started blaming himself and things became worst for him. He was losing his self-esteem. He took help of Self-Help book on matters of love. Now he was feeling good and gaining confidence. In reality he was following the tips without applying his own mind. The ‘good’ feeling was temporary. No book can teach you how to behave at every moment of your life. It is said that a real teacher is one who gives you the vision and not just the view. In case of Self-Help we are our teachers. Merely reading the Self-Help materials won’t help unless you apply your mind. Just by reading “how to become a good orator” or “how to be a real man” won’t make you either of it. Next time when you go through such thing remember to apply your own brains. Or else it will lead you nowhere.

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