Firstly, apologies for my delay in blogging, in truth, my travels will soon be coming to an end, so I’ve been absorbing every moment before returning home.
I’d like to talk to you about something that has been on my mind for a while now and in truth I wasn’t sure on how to bring this topic up but in true Amy style I thought I’d dive head first into it and see what happens.
Over the past 15 months I have spent a lot of time in airports and have become somewhat of an expert in airport security and airport boredom. The trick for me is good food, a nice cup of tea (before the dreaded in-flight over-stewed tea) and nosing around the bookshop.
It was in an airport bookshop that I noticed something I hadn’t before, the size of the Self-Help section, well it’s not the size of the section but the overwhelming choice of books available, full to the brim of books with titles like “How To Get Rich Quick”, “The Power of Now, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “How Not To Die” (yes honestly somebody wrote a book called “How Not To Die” I mean, there are no words to describe how pointless that one is!).
I’d like to make one thing very clearly, I am not criticizing those who seek or who feel they need Self-Help. I am in no way judging them because who am I to judge but what I am doing is raising my concerns regarding what appears like, our obsession with the Self. Personal development and care for one’s self is imperative, but I feel that the line has been crossed where the care and help we give ourselves has led us into an unhealthy relationship.
The self is important but so is caring for others, as a species we rely heavily on each other for survival, we are social beings who require a community, interaction and inclusion.
I think when people look to “fix themselves” they immediately look inwards but what about outwards? Who are you surrounding yourself with? Family? Friends? People who are good for you? No, then could it be that you are seeking rather than Self-Help? Look at your environment, Where you live? The job? The hours? The commute? Maybe what the person buying a Self-Help book is really seeking is change?
There is a school of thought that when someone buys a Self-Help book, they think that this might be “The One” with the answers to fix all their problems but what if there’s an alternative?
What if alongside Self-Care (rather than Self-Help), we looked at our surroundings like a problem-solving exercise, assessing and in a practically way viewing external sources as beneficial or non-beneficial? Some of you might say that this is too simple but it’s not, you are simply over complicating it, it’s Beneficial or Non-beneficial, no middle ground.
This is in no way selfish, this is in fact a form of Self-Care.
It does however require the person to make difficult choices and to change. Change and choices in life are inevitable so why fight it? So, what is stopping you from implementing this form of Self-Care?
Again, I am in no way criticizing anyone personally for giving themselves Self-Help , a phase that I’ve heard all the time whilst travelling Australia and New Zealand (especially in New Zealand) was “you do you” in other words, “I’m not judging you, you do whatever you need to, just do you”.
I have recently come across an article about Stoicism and I felt as though it was in line with my own values.
Stoicism is a philosophical theory based on rising above unhelpful or unhealthy emotions and not becoming attached to them, allowing the person to assess the situation logically, a focal point to stoicism is behaving virtuous towards others. Now I am by no means virtuous, but I know from personal experience, when you switch from being stuck in your own head to giving your time and attention to others, the gratification is almost instant and undeniable.
I have occasional bouts of insomnia and I have been known to do a 13 hour shift on less than 3 hours sleep. How I get through that day is by making a real effort to focus my attention on others and to be as pleasant as possible to them, regardless of how terrible I felt before I left the house (I do not always succeed).
I push aside my negative feelings and deliberately try with others and you know something? It makes me feel better. It is my reward to myself for facing the day, the gratification is more than any Self-Help book can give me and it’s immediate compared with Self-Care.
There is also another thought when considering our society’s need for Self-Care and Self-Help, if we gave those good for us our time and attention, whether that be family, friends or a good cause (volunteering as such) would any of us need so much time for Self-Care and Self-Help? I am inclined to think not but who knows the answer to that question. My Father’s favourite line was “Time Amy, time is the most precious gift you can ever give someone.”
Much Love Amy x