A beginner's guide to the world of self-help

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By Jasmine Flora

Welcome to the world of self help, a world so large and full it can be somewhat intimidating. Especially when the descriptions of it range from “new-age” to “hippie” to “tweaky.” Now, there are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions, but none of that really matters. What matters is that you’ve:

1) found yourself on this little corner of the internet (whether you actively sought it out or randomly stumbled upon it)

and 2) want things to be better.

And better can really mean anything. You could be looking for health, wealth, or success. Maybe you’re looking for happiness, answers, or meaning. Or maybe you’re just looking and you’ll know what it is when you find it. 

All the same, getting started can be a little difficult. The good thing is that it doesn’t matter where or how you start, you just have to have faith that your beginning is exactly what it should be. (I know belief and faith are totally something that I struggle with too. Try it. Or pretend to. Either way.)

So, I, you’re local self-help junkie, have created a somewhat-organized list of ways to embark on whatever journey this may be for you. Do some of the things, laugh at the others, or just read it and maybe five years from now remember something when you need it. From my answer-seeking, stressed-out, hopeful heart to yours:

1. Read a Book

Now if you’re embarrassed you’ll have to either suck it up and hang out in the self-help section of the book store...or just add something to your Amazon cart. But, trust me— the best way to be introduced to some of the really wonderful life-changing tools to... ya'know change you life is to read the work of people who have created careers sharing this knowledge with others. 

For a general introduction check out Jen Sincero’s “You Are a Badass” it’s incredible, and funny, and is the greatest pep talk in novel form. (May I also recommend listening to the audio-book version of it as well,10/10.) You can also check out anything by Brené Brown, like “Rising Strong” or “Daring Greatly.” Or hey, go and read the much talked about  “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne (or watch the documentary on Netflix). You can also start out by reading about people that really inspire you. I was much more motivated to really go for it (and also be a better person) whilst reading Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please.” Whatever it is that calls to you, read it. 

2. Will Smith and Jim Carrey 

Every time I watch a video of either Will Smith or Jim Carrey talk about how they became (and stay) successful I get so motivated and in love with the world around me that I feel equal parts blissed out and invincible. While I highly recommend going on to youtube and watching them speak about manifestation what’s more important is that you find people that inspire you. Watching and listening to motivational speeches is a game changer, whether it’s from your favorite sports film, a commencement, or a historical figure— find a video or a recording of something that connects to the fire inside of your bones. (P.S. Compilations of motivational pre-game speeches are also a great way to add another 5 minutes on the treadmill and be pumped about it.)

3. Meditation 

This is typically the one that makes people groan or get really anxious or peace out. And I totally get it. Meditation feels like this incredibly impossible and difficult feat that is saved for only the enlightened. But it’s not. Start off small with an app, like Headspace or Insight Timer. Or find a guided meditation that you really like. Buy a book about it, ask a yoga teacher about it, get a workbook like the one Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein created, "A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction WorkBook". Find a meditation center. Start doing it with your friends. 

Try it and love it. Try it and hate it and then love it, or never do it again. Just try it.

4. Find Your Yoda(s)

If I didn’t have my roommate my first two years of college I think I would’ve died. Not just because I love her so much, but because I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. My first year of college there was a small fire in our dorm room, I dyed all my white clothes purple, and I was in a spiral of not liking myself (and therefore letting people treat me badly.) But she was there to stop the fire (and prevent us from getting caught), teach me that you can’t wash a new shirt with your other clothes (even if it is all on cold I mean c’mon) because it’ll bleed, and got me to start respecting, and standing up for, myself.

She also pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone and flex my (nonexistent) confrontational muscles and knock on the door of our next door neighbors when it was midnight and they were screaming. Along with numerous nights of tough love speeches, encouragement, and her own sense of self-respect and confidence she helped me become a better and happier version of myself (and I've yet to start another fire or dye my clothes since.)

It is so, so, so important to surround yourself with people who:

1) inspire you

2) like you and (are kind to you)

and 3) want to help you succeed.

Finding a teacher, friend, older mentor, younger mentor, sibling, or roommate to be your little, green coach / cheerleader will make whatever journey you're on easier. Be open to the advice, guidance, and teachings of everyone (and every thing) around you. If you like it, ask for more little droplets of wisdom, and if you don’t, say thank you and disregard it.

And you don’t have to have one end all be all Yoda, you can get yourself a little army of Yodas — you’ll basically be unstoppable.

5. Professional Help

We can be weird when it comes to seeking out “professional help.” I mean, I get it— every time I walk into a clothing store and someone asks me if I need help I instantly retort back with “no, i’m fine, I’m just looking” and then continue to scour for that one thing that I’m not even sure they have and if I do find it, it’s probably up somewhere that I need them to get it for me, and now me and my pride / fear of asking for help are embarrassed and weird and I should just shop online.

But professional help shouldn’t be weird. I don’t know how to fix my car, so I go to a mechanic (or my dad), and I shouldn’t be allowed to cut my own hair, so I go to someone who is way better at it and walk away feeling so fresh and so clean clean. And both times I don’t feel weird, or less than, or like it was this traumatizing, embarrassing thing. But then again I’m not seeking someone to help me deal with my emotions, or connect to something that I might not even know for sure is there, or help me make my life the elusive better.

Professional help doesn’t always need to mean going to a therapist— it can be a life coach, an intuitive, or a Reiki Master. It can be seeing a doctor, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, or a massage therapist. Grabbing coffee with someone who has done the thing, sending an email to an old teacher asking for advice, or calling Apple support because while you’ve googled a million times why your photos aren’t uploading you hate technology and yes, I would like you to schedule me a genius bar appointment thank you very much. 

Whatever it is and whoever it is, do not be afraid to ask for help. Especially because I’m guessing if someone came to you, you wouldn’t be judging them / laughing at them / thinking they’re less than. And if you are… maybe start your process with a good little look at that.

 Happy Beginnings! 

P.S.

I'm rooting for you! 

Erika Frost