|This is what comes up on Wikimedia Creative
Commons when you search “Self Help.”
I would look for something better in order
to help myself but I’m too tired from reading
self help books.
Recently I went through this spate of reading novels where the main character is profoundly fucked up to the extent that as a reader you ask yourself, “What the hell, main character? Did you at least try to un-fuck-up yourself? I get that life is not exactly forgiving but what resources, exactly, did you try to utilize? Because if I am ever in your situation I want to use not-those.”
So now I’m on a Bridget Jones-esque pop psychology spree. Normally I read self help books when I take a moment to reflect and think, “Wow, self. You need some help.” But right now I’m re-reading some I’ve really liked in the past because I’m curious to see if they’re predatory or enabling. Maybe they read like balm when you’re in emotional turmoil. But when you’re on an even keel do they come off as bull shit covered in snake oil wrapped in Jane Seymour’s Open Heart Collection for Kay Jewelers?
I’m pleased to report that thus far they seem to come off as tomes full of obviousness. For example “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” essentially says this:
Step 1: Know who you are and what matters to you, do the important shit, and don’t be a dick.
Step 2: If you catch yourself feeling lost and attempting quick fixes, spending all your time on trivial shit, and/or having interpersonal problems see Step 1.
That’s sound advice as far as it goes. Though if I’m mired in a depression, weighed down by hopelessness and lack of direction, I’m not sure a 372 page book with the tone of an especially condescending between Ward Cleaver and Mitt Romney is going to reach me.
But still. It’s not bull shit and that’s something. So yay self help books in a very general sense, I guess? I don’t know. I’m not that invested. Now I’m back to angsty mysteries.
Why am I telling you this? I’m about to write a series of posts where I reference the fact that I’ve been reading self help books so I wanted to put it in context. So when I say, “These two women would not shut up about how parenthood is hard because it is to find a decent pre-K Mandarin tutor on Thursday afternoons and I thought, “My first impulse is to roll my eyes at 3000 rpm but then I reflected, ‘is my reaction to their valid feelings just about bad scripts I learned in adolescence?’ Because the key is to break them with new habits…”” The self-help tangent?
So, um, yay? I guess?
What about you? Have you been down the path of Bridget Jones?