Being Your Own Best Friend

Self-help doesn’t have to mean lonely years spent with library books telling you what you’re doing wrong with your life. Self-help is ultimately about making strong, sensible changes and proving yourself with the support you need to see those changes through. Self-help can, therefore, include a network of counselors, information providers, medical professionals, coaches, and more.

A Process of Ownership

The Hero of Your Own Life

The soul of self-help is the decision to take charge of your own life, your own treatments, and your own goals and outcomes. In a world where many drift along, pointing at this influence and that as explanation for their lack of satisfaction with life, a very few determine to take back control, and captain their own life into satisfying adventures and desired safe harbors. This attitude is at the core of the self-help movement: adult responsibility, adult engagement, and adult process applied to life itself.

Self-help can be pursued in many ways, but it’s always a dynamic, involved process in which the patient refuses a passive role. Rather than being worked upon, the self-realized individual works upon herself with the aid of professional allies.

Who Can I Trust?

Finding allies to work with can be a challenge. It requires having planned far enough ahead to at least choose one prepared ally as a starting point. In many cases, the first ally will be a doctor, a civil servant, a member of the religious clergy or an agent of a sound professional referral agency. Any of these can then help provide information on available professionals, useful areas of expertise, and best practices.

Choosing Goals

Once you have a basic team of allies in place, you can begin setting basic goals. Don’t go overboard: a to-do list more than about six lines long is likely to overwhelm, especially in the first stages of a major life-restructuring. It’s better to choose one, or possibly two long-term goals, no more, and to then determine a path to that goal, from supportive ways to think to necessary ways to behave. Good allies will have suggestions for method and technique, and for timing within your life’s long arcs, but will allow the patient to choose the goals and accept or reject certain techniques.

Success or Failure: Often a Matter of Technique.

The advantage of providing yourself with professionals, either as information sources or as actual allies, lies in the effect technique can have on self-help outcome. Working alone from a book all techniques seem equally valid, presented by equally prepared and impassioned advocates. A trained and informed professional, whether a care giver or an educator, can help sort out the techniques and methods most suited to your personal circumstance in ways you can’t. Together you and those you have chosen for your team will put together a system of best practices tailored to you, your life, and your goals, with support built in, regular rewards and check points, and time to evaluate your progress.

Making It Happen

What’s certain is that only by actually getting under way, and seeing your project through to a resolution, will you accomplish the things you set out to do. This is the follow-through stage of your self-help campaign, and in the end it’s the aspect your chosen friends and allies can only observe, not control. Self-help takes many forms, but the follow-through is of necessity self-oriented, self-sustained, and self-rewarding.

Remember, the central element of self-help isn’t isolation, but self-motivation and control. Don’t feel shy about building a team of supporting players! Just remember that you’re living your life, and they can help, but they can’t take over.

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