Self…Help?

Tonight’s fortune cookie fortune: You constantly struggle for self-improvement.

I’m a firm believer in self-improvement, if mostly in the abstract. I realize that we are all in a constant state of change but hate the whole corny concept. I’m suspicious of cultish behaviors, wary of group-think, leery of the lingos associated with specific movements, practices or organizations, which includes everything from yoga to Christianity to the Girl Scouts.

In my adult life, I’ve alternated between embracing and ridiculing self-help. I did Lifespring back in the 80s — an offshoot of EST, which became Landmark Forum — and loved it. But I wasn’t “worthy” of moving up in the organization because I failed to enroll enough people in the program. I simply wasn’t a good enough sales person, even when I was attempting to sell something I believed in. So although I gleaned many valuable lessons from the trainings, in the end I didn’t have what it took to be a “real” member.

I’ve dabbled in all kinds of self-help, even if it was only for a day, but have never been able to fully immerse myself in anything. I’d say I’m not a joiner, but that isn’t quite true. It’s more a situation of being bored easily. And refusing to conform. Which doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep becoming a better me. Even this blog is a form of self improvement, albeit a slow and self-involved one!

For the past few months I’ve been slogging my way through How to Be An Adult In Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving, by David Richo. It was given to me by my ex’s ex, who I befriended. I pick it up between Sunday Times Magazines and assorted distracting novels. The book includes a lot of exercises, most of which require a partner and, not currently partnered, I’m unable to follow through with them properly. But I do want to soak up the information.

Last night I read this passage, an affirmation to build a healthy ego, and it struck me as timely:

I look at myself and my life without fear of what I may see or what I may find I have to work on. I look at myself without censure, blame, or shame but with a sense of accountability for any ways I have hurt others, and I make amends. I accept myself  as I am without an attachment to fixing, changing, or controlling my natural inclinations and attributes. I let go of any attachment to the outcome of what is happening in my life right now or what will happen in m life in the future. I allow myself to live in accord with my deepest needs and wishes. I love myself as I am and take care of myself. I pay attention to my body and what it tells me about myself and the joys and stresses of my circumstances. I am free of fear and craving. I share with others the gifts I receive. May all beings have happiness because of my work, my gifts and my practice.

Now, of all times, is the perfect moment for me to “let go of any attachment to the outcome of what is happening in my life.” I can’t even begin to grapple with might happen in the future, so it isn’t too difficult not to be attached to it. I have a few fears and am bravely facing them. I’m probably doing a better job of “being here now” than I ever have. I take each day as it comes, have only vague “plans” next week, next month. And no idea whatsoever what life will serve up over the next year. I am just going to trust in the universe that it will be precisely what I need.

To be honest, I kinda don’t care. If The Rapture had happened this past Saturday, I would’ve been lifted to heaven — or fried in the eternal flames — with no regrets, having lived a full and exciting life. From here on in, everything is gonna be frosting on the frosting of my already tasty cake!


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One response to “Self…Help?

  1. You, and only you cooked up this tasty and delicious cake! And many people around you have been happy to have a bite of it, though you still will find someone who is going to share a big portion of it!
    As for the self help books- you are the one with lots of maturity and wisdom, and I see you writing a book; Self help comes from within ourselves, from our own mind, life and mistakes. You can take self help books as a comfortable pill or just a low- key guide, if one is lost…but for sure it is not a cure or a treatment of anything. If only one quote made a difference to you or sparked your interest- the better, and in the end it was worth your time…

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