Today is one of those days where nothing is really working. And when that happens, I generally go to my impressive (or actually obscenely large) collection of self help books, CDs, downloads, widgets, gadgets and cards and pluck something that I think is going to help this self of mine get to feeling better.
So, what’s it gonna be? The charms-and-trinkets route? Put all my dreams in the manifestation bowl and wait for them to come true? Write all my grievances on a piece of paper and burn it to a crisp to release them to the heavens for perfect resolution? Meditate until all the wisdom of the Universe downloads into my head?
Right now, I feel like I’ve been drunk on so many different flavors of self help koolaid that I need to send myself to rehab. No more gurus, gadgets or therapies both mystical and practical. Cold turkey, baby.
So where did my tortured romance with self help begin? Probably about the time I was able to form a complete sentence. For whatever reason, I showed up on the planet with the inherent belief that there was something wrong with me. Maybe not wrong, just not perfect enough.
I had a love of words but rarely spoke out of turn because I might say something that would offend someone.
I lived in fear of PE class in school because I’d have to play team sports and – God forbid – I could not perform at the level of a world class athlete.
Every glance in the mirror was accompanied by a qualifying “You’re okay, but…”.
My fourth grade teacher once asked me if I knew what an ulcer was, because I was going to get one if I kept being so hard on myself.
And I was a mystery to my parents, who could not understand how their unwavering love and positive reinforcement somehow resulted in a kid who insisted on picking herself apart to the point of distraction.
So, here I am, standing in my closet perusing the vast selection of books, recordings and pretty metaphysical baubles. They are clamoring for attention all at once: “Listen to me. Look at me. Hold me in your hands and chant awhile. You’ll feel better, I promise.”
But instead of feeling comfort, I feel supreme annoyance and frustration. Sadness, too. How much time and money have I spent, trying to fix what was perhaps never broken in the first place?
Then I start to laugh. I have to, because the alternative is to anoint my forehead with overpriced magical oils and then strangle myself with a strand of Tibetan prayer beads.
Now that some semblance of humor is crashing my pity party, I suppose I can lighten up a bit about my decades of chasing the self help dragon. Maybe see what I was hoping to find in each potential remedy. Or just watch the parade of panaceas that have drifted in and out of favor , remembering the various “Ah ha!” and “Oh, sh*t!” moments that came with each of them.
I’m still not totally ready to part with my collection. Perhaps I never will be.
But one thing I am ready to part with is the belief that unless I’m able to dance each step of the self improvement cha-cha flawlessly, then I don’t get to enjoy every day of the gorgeously imperfect life I’ve been blessed with.