When I was in my 20s I loathed self-help books. I thought they were a waste of time and, I’m ashamed to say, I would disparage them frequently. I couldn’t understand what possible good they could do. To me they were a sign of weakness and shouldn’t people be able bot get it together on their own?
So imagine my chagrin when someone said my blogs had a great self-help quality to them.
Oh the irony.
I’m in my 40s now and can shake my head at my youthful ignorance about self-help. Honestly, in my 20s I could definitely have used a lot of help. But I was too scared to open that box. I wanted to be strong not weak.
I was a young and very opinionated woman who frequently struggled with anxiety and a poor sense of self. And for some reason, although I sought the advice of psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical professionals, I never once picked up a book where someone like me had written about their own experiences.
A book or two like that would’ve helped me a lot.
Another person recently asked why I thought I was qualified to help and advise people. It was an odd question and delivered in a way that was designed to challenge me a little.
I reflected for a moment and said, ‘It’s not about advising people. For me it’s about sharing my experiences and ideas, and if they can help someone else feel better about their life or see another way forward, then I’ve done what I needed to do.’
While I believe there is lots of good advice and wonderfully ‘formally qualified’ people out there doing great work, some of the best help I’ve received has come from listening to and reading about the struggles of others. I can relate to them and glean insights born of their experiences. And through those stories I find a better way to negotiate the struggles in my own life
I’m not interested in telling people what to do. After all, who wants to listen to someone pointing the finger and saying, ‘This is the right way to live and you must do this!’ (not me!)
I’d much rather learn from the experiences of others and perhaps, through sharing my own, others will also gain something useful.
But the telling of stories to help others isn’t just about writers like me. It’s also about every single person we meet. Every one of us has challenges that sometimes leave us feeling alone. Too often we keep our pain and struggles hidden within us. We are ashamed or scared that others will laugh at or dismiss our experiences. But what if, through the very act of sharing our story, we could heal ourselves and heal the other person too.
Every time I write about something that has caused me pain, the very act of sharing it helps me to move forward. And I believe it also helps others at the same time.
So maybe, just maybe, we could try to share our stories more often. And in doing so, we could help us all find an easier way to live