I love the self-help industry. I am not being facetious. I am very serious. When I first started waking up from the mountains of brainwashing I was holding up, it was the self-help books that saved me. I was surrounded by people who were in denial and I need some people to be honest with me. I needed to know that others were struggling too. I wanted the smallest bit of light to be shone on the problem in front of me. And the self-help books did that for me. I explored all kinds of development from all kinds of authors. I read everything from the Louise Hay books to channeled, slightly obscure material without a large following. I read various religious books (including the Bible from cover to cover). I even read non-self-help books from really honest authors which helped me realize I didn’t always have to be perfect. I had an insatiable appetite for information. And I took bits and pieces from all of it.
These books were the start of the journey to my truth. But as I healed, I start to question things. I began to question the books that had kickstarted my journey. In reality, I think that is a good thing. We need to be questioning everything all the time. This is trained out of us in abusive households (and societies in general), but it’s something we must come back to. I thought the concepts were good, but there were some aspects of self-help that weren’t sitting well with me. I understood that peace and positivity were great things. I had felt them and I really wanted to be in that space all the time. But something felt fake. I felt like I was avoiding something. It seemed like another type of mask. And I didn’t want to drop one mask to pick up another. I wanted to be truly free.
So I started to take a closer look at the “current of yuck” that seemed to be running underneath the peacefulness I was working so hard to maintain. As you can imagine, I found some really bad stuff in the process. There was anger, futility, shame, grief and fear. And there were memories. There were so many memories. But most importantly, there were inner parts who were desperately screaming at me to knock it off. They were tired of being invalidated by my controller’s latest and most favorite mask. They wanted me to help them end their pain. They didn’t care if I was fitting in with this or that community. They didn’t care if I was the most enlightened. And they didn’t care about my frickin’ positive thoughts. They needed help.
My defenders were terrified. All the books said to keep it positive. All the books said that acknowledging my “negative” emotions and thoughts would attract all the wrong things. I would bring horrible things into my world if I allowed that stuff to come forward. Even worse, my actions would be influenced if I allowed these emotions. If I allowed anger, I would become a horrible monster. If I allowed grief, I would drown in the tidal wave and never be productive again. If I allowed shame, everyone in my life would see what a horrible person I was. If I allowed fear, all the things I feared would come true. And if I allowed futility, I would be paralyzed forever. I had to stay positive at all costs. I had to keep my mask firmly in place.
And my spiritual friends didn’t like my new plan at all. Their controllers came forward to let me know that I would invite horrible things with my plan to acknowledge this pain. They told me not to write about such things. They said it was best to leave the past in the past. They said the strongest people are able to put it away in a box and stay positive, move on and face the future without looking back. Needless to say, I wasn’t long for that environment. I started to pull away and face my shadow self, my own darkness that was no fault of my own. I started to find an inkling of compassion for myself and how I truly felt. And a world of memories opened up to me. They were horrible, but with each one I acknowledged, a little bit of weight lifted, so I kept going.
After all these years, I have learned the truth. Peace and positively are an organic result of allowing everything that is not peaceful and positive to come forward. If I want to find peace, attract great things and live an amazing life, I have to put my focus on my resistance to it. This is the opposite of what I had learned. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use self-help to help us in our trauma recovery journey. Creating positive affirmations about our future is very powerful if we use them to bring our resistance forward. If you want to bait a defender to speak to you, just state that you are a worthy person. They will come forward to tell you how you are not. I guarantee it. Positive affirmations are an amazing conversation starter. It just might not be the conversation you were hoping to have. So use self-help to bring you closer to your resistance. Let it guide you to what needs attention. And don’t let the existence of “negative” emotions convince you that something is wrong with you. Nothing is wrong with you. You are healing.
Come join us in Survivor’s Guide for Life in July as we find the helpful in self-help.