Tuesday, 1 April 2008
Live life -- don't read about it!
I just read Beth Shea's Put Down the Self Help Books blog post, and I am so going to blog about this!!!
I know sweet and wonderful men and women who have an awful addiction. In their search for the answers to all the questions in life, they become addicted to self-help books, groups and techniques. I'm not talking about reading a couple of books to get through a rough patch, or find some ideas for what to do next. I am talking about years and dozens, maybe hundreds of books.
He might be a great guy. She might be an amazing woman. Gentle. Kind. Intelligent. Funny. Caring. And clearly often in very real pain, as they look back on a less-than-ideal-childhood, and failed relationships as an adult.
So they read. Everything. Or rather, everything self-help. Fiction, science, philosophy, art, all fall aside to make room for the "Why am I this way books." They go to workshops and seminars, always in search of "THE ANSWER" to explain away their very real pain, and find a magic tool for blissful freedom.
The problem is, there is no such magic tool. The other problem is, they really seem to think there is.
It's easy to get sucked into that vortex of victimization. "It's not my fault. I deserved better." And to some extent it's quite true. No one deserves a cruddy childhood or a lonely life. Even so, LOTS of us get them. Is that a reason spend the latter half of one's life engrossed in trying to pinpoint the pain the first half?
Some would probably call it denial. I would call it realizing that no matter how many books I read, or seminars I attend, my childhood is not going to change. It's too late. It's over. Done. past. It is not happening any more. I grew up.
So I can choose to wallow in the past where I was not treated as well as I deserved (yup, I am one of the many!) or I can say "Whew! Sure glad that's over!" and move on.
The former might feel good for awhile. Clear myself of blame. Make my mistakes someone else's fault (and I guess their mistakes someone else's too, and so on back through time.) It's easier than getting up and doing. It might feel safe.
But the getting up and doing is so much more fun and exciting! Scarier. Harder. But infinitely more satisfying. And creative.
I do wish they were not in pain, because I'm sure most of them are very special, wonderful people.
But most of all, from my heart, I wish I could grab their hands and lead them outside and say "Look up! Look around! See the blue sky and the palm trees and maybe even someone who loves you! This is NOT your childhood. Throw away that map, and tear up the address labels, because honey, you don't live there any more."