Why Self-Help Can Make You Nauseous or (A Short Sermon in Self-Sustainability).

It’s time to debunk a significantly defective archetype swirling through spiritual circles and many a societal sector.  An all-too prevalent illusion infiltrating students, seekers, and the simplest of souls, from the yoga mats to the church groups to the 12-step audio tape on repeat in your car’s dash.

But first, I must plead my guilt.

At one time, I, too, succumbed (albeit to a minor degree) to the hidden propaganda that many (not all) self-improvement theories are built upon.  And despite my morsel of naivety, it was just enough to put my head on a swivel.

The theory?

That, as humans, we’re an innately broken breed.  Abundantly flawed, marinated in guilt.  Catholic school flashbacks of my kindergarten teacher redirecting her hand-me-down guilt at a classroom of 5-year old angels by informing us we’re the newest generation of original sinners.  Thanks, should I tithe by mail or walk it straight to the rectory?

Likewise, the self-help model is of similar origin.

Self-help starts from the premise that you’re inadequate as is.  From the get-go, it’s a game of catch-up:  weed eating edges, whiting out flaws, striving and struggling to better a design with built-in precision and power.

C’mon bro!  You can’t tell me this site isn’t self-help.

I prefer to think of it as sermons in self-sustainability, uh thank you very much.  A loving nudge towards that which brims your cup.  The starting block here is opulence, not ineptitude.

Turns out, this aha! moment had been fermenting on a subconscious level for close to two years, and finally hatched this past week during a visit to the local bookstore.  As I prepared to purchase a handful of “self-development” literature, angst and fatigue enveloped me.  Suddenly, I felt like a leaky roof auditioning for HGTV: Restoration T.J., my latest project in personal patchwork.

That’s right, patchwork, as in “repair,” “fix,” “correct,” and “mend.”

In that moment, I realized I’d been highlighting, om-ing, downward dogging, binge breathing, and affirmation reciting with bogus motives for quite some time.  My intent had shifted from genuine self-discovery to obligatory self-maintenance.

I dropped the books and drove home.


There’s a distinct difference between the helpers and discoverers of the world.  D-I-S-T-I-N-C-T.   Distinct.

Self-helpers control.
Self-discoverers explore.  (It’s a job versus a game).

Self-helpers crave instruction.
Self-discoverers listen, but only apply what resonates.

Self-helpers see what’s missing.
Self-discoverers dance with what’s there.

Self-help can be a sentence.
Self-discovery is an Authentic Adventure.

Self-helpers auction their power.
Self-discoverers expand their authority.

Self-help renovates and renovates and renovates.
Self-discovery is turnkey.

Self-helpers have forgotten.
Self-discoverers have remembered.

A math major I am not, but the equation writes itself:

Too much self-help = too much headiness

More thoughts, more analysis, more comparison, more problems, more confusion, more work. Resulting in less heart, less ONEness, less acceptance, resolutions, lucidity, flow, fun, and TRUTH.

The key to the whole shebang is based on your approach.  Are you a broken cup in search of glue?  Or do you seek to fill your chalice because it’s your birthright to feel Alive and Free?  In golf, we’d call this the point of address. In general, it’s plain ole intent.

So before you add to the book shelf, call the astrologer, go vegan, sign up for the seminar, reread the Book of Jimmy, or simply beat yourself up, consider the following…

You don’t need fixing, healing, counseling, or saving.  Your soul need not to be righted, improved, upgraded, or photoshopped.  Everything you need you already have. And self-love… discovery for the sake of discovery… is ’bout as liberating as it gets.

And no, this doesn’t mean we should cease to learn and grow.  “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” most definitely applies.

But before the reflex to sprint the treadmill of self-help kicks in, take a few breaths and filter your inklings through your heart center…  (Expanded or contracted? Expanded or contracted?). This little Q+A returned my reading, writing, yoga-ing, and creativity into avenues of genuine expression once again.

You can’t be more when you’re already enough.



  1. Patrick Olwig 5 months ago #

    Outstanding. What a great piece? Can I use it and re-start my Friday Thought for the Days with a copy of this post? Keep the faith!
    PS Your writing is fanatastic!

  2. MB Hercules Mifflin 5 months ago #

    LOVE ❤️ the message TJ! Thanks for the reminder. It was great to see you. Keep discovering because I truly enjoy your writing:)

  3. jean 5 months ago #

    Amen to you, Mr. Self -Discovery. Have a happy adventure!!

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