Self-Help With a Pinch of Salt

As I’m sure you are aware, I read a lot of ‘self-help’ books in order to understand myself, and ultimately to grow as a person. I believe that investing in me will lead to sustainable happiness and in turn will benefit those I love most.

That being said, I’ve noticed that some of the pointers in these books are not really applicable in every situation. Following their advice blindly could actually cause quite a bit of harm. Many of the themes that I’ve noticed are things like:

  • Weed out negative thoughts
  • Remove toxic elements from your life
  • Get up earlier in the morning
  • Spend time alone – this also includes meditation and mindfulness
  • Stop procrastinating
  • Get more exercise and eat well
  • Read to enrich yourself and research your areas of expertise
  • Focus on your core strengths and outsource the rest
  • Persevere no matter what
  • Create goals with deadlines and monitor
  • Do what you fear – go out of your comfort zone
  • Serve others – contribute to society
  • Identify your life purpose and follow it

While many of the above are really useful, some would actually set me back in my current state of health.  I simply cannot get up earlier in the morning because what I need most is rest. Once I’m well, that would make sense and I’d love to either exercise as I used to do, or simply take time for myself to quiet my mind before the day begins.
Exercise is not much of an option at the moment, although I’m doing the odd five minute cycle. Yes, it’s pathetic but that’s what is currently viable.  I am indeed shackled by my state of health currently, and it does cause me a great deal of frustration. But I keep thinking that there is a lesson in this that I’m being given, and I need to listen and learn it.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I don’t believe perseverance is always the answer. I kept pushing through things I didn’t enjoy for years, for the benefit of other people. I did myself a lot of harm doing that. I promote not giving up at the first obstacle but occasionally, it’s good to take a step back and think about whether this is something you really want to be doing for many years to come. If not, don’t continue.

Contribution for me is a difficult one. One of my values is Helping People and I love to give back to the world in the work that I do. However, in being a mother of small children, I cannot escape a great deal of giving on a daily basis, and sometimes to the point of being utterly depleted. I know I have a habit of taking on too much and of not asking for help. I have to learn to reign in what I choose to do and then do it well. I have to learn to ask for help and to take it when offered. I see a lot of areas where I’d love to contribute, but I need to hold back in order to preserve my energy for the really important things. I don’t think this tussle will end, even when I’m in remission. It will be an everlasting tension in my life.


For me, the last one is the most important of all. Identify your life purpose and follow it. It is not selfish, it is not indulgent. It is our purpose. We all have talents and abilities that are unique to us. We were given them for a reason and it’s almost criminal not to make the most of them. Talents are there to enrich your life and the world. If you are not putting your talents to good use, what’s holding you back? It is my strong belief that we do each have a calling and it is our responsibility to act on it. Not only for our good but for the good of those around us.

So I keep reading and I even summarise key learnings after each book I read. But I know that there are some strategies that don’t apply to me right now. There are more than enough strategies to implement that do apply and that can help me, and I’m making the most of each.“The path that is the most successful in life is guided by desire” ~ Deepak Chopra

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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