Self-Help for Cynics

open mindWith apologies to Michael Stipe, I lost my religion many years ago. The death of my brother when he was 19 and I was 21 damaged me in ways I have only very recently, 16 years later, come to understand, work through, and let go of. During those 16 years I have raged against God, religion, and the faithful, becoming just as frighteningly evangelical and fundamentalist in my atheism as some of the faithful I mocked. Therapy was for wimps. Self-help books were written by quacks out to make a quick buck.

“All of my stages were different suits of armour that kept me from becoming too engaged and too vulnerable. Each strategy was built on the same premise: Keep everyone at a safe distance and always have an exit strategy.” Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

But, as part of my decision and determination to fall in love with life again, I sat with myself at the very start of this new year, imagined a crack opening and widening in my mind, and letting deep-seated guilt, regret, blame and bitterness out. I made space for kindness, love, and compassion to move in, for others and for myself. I literally opened my mind to other approaches to life and the challenges of existence, to finding meaning and peace.

And this is why, so far this year, I have read nothing but books from the self-help, motivation, and spiritual genres, and I have a few more lined up, both in my Kindle and from the library of my beautiful, kind, gentle, understanding neighbour MC. The following is my reading list and some quotes that have resonated with me, and which you might also find thought-provoking and meaningful.

Peace out. Kate XX

Daring Greatly, Brene Brown: “To put our art, our writing, our photography, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation – that’s also vulnerability.”

Hands Free Mama, Rachel Macy Stafford: “Messages of shame, inadequacy, fear, doubt, and criticis popped into my head like undeletable email messages in an inbox. These debilitating comments paralyzed me. They prevented me from enjoying life, taking risks, forming deep relationships, and revealing my true self … I knew it was time to silence my inner critic so I could stop hiding behind a facade and start living a more authentic life.”

A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson: “As uncomfortable as our life might be, as painful or even desperate at times, the life we’re living is the life we know, and we cling to the old rather than try something new. Most of us are so sick of ourselves, in one way or another. It’s unbelievable how tenaciously we cling to what we’ve prayed to be released from.”

You Can Create an Exceptional Life, Cheryl Richardson and Louise L. Hay: “When you become more focussed on the small steps you are taking instead of the end results – and you see that it’s working – you feel good, and you continue to draw to you exactly what you need to take you where you want to go.”

You Can Heal Your Life, Louise L. Hay: “I no longer choose to believe  that I’m a bad person just because I find something else to change within me.”

Buddhist Bootcamp, Timber Hawkeye: “When somebody else’s story resonates with us, we realise that we’re not alone, and we are more alike that we care to admit. This is an important step in breaking down our illusion of separateness, and bringing us closer together.”

Awaken the Giant Within, Anthony Robbins: “They have converted the discomfort of discipline into the satisfaction of personal growth. This is why their behaviour is consistent, as are their results.”

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14 responses to “Self-Help for Cynics

  1. I love the Hands Free Mama quote, might have to borrow that one when you’re done. And may I make a contribution in the direction of Self Compassion…? Just explored this website: http://www.self-compassion.org/ She has some beautiful things to say about being kind to ourselves. Such a radical concept! x

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