Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Best Piece of Advice I Ever Got

I’m not a big fan of self-help books and magazines. Except of course for my ‘Quest for Positivity’ reading frenzy, and to be fair most of the reading I did was related to the business/professional end of the spectrum, i.e. motivating and managing people, I have read next to absolutely zero self-help books. I suppose that is at least partially a reflection of the cynic in me. Whatever.

But and but and another big but, the Best Piece of Advice I Ever Got came from a self-help book entitled ‘Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live’ by Martha Beck. Ms. Beck is some big, self-help, life-coach guru person and I have absolutely no idea how I came across this book but I did. I think that I was attracted to the pretty blue cover with the star on it.

Of course the book is all about finding your well, North Star and well, leading the life you were meant to live. But the best piece of advice I ever got came out of chapter 7 of this book which is called Soul Shrapnel: Repairing Your Emotional Compass. The title of the chapter probably gives a hint and in it Ms. Beck makes it perfectly clear that we’re never going to realize our potential until we heal the emotional gun-shot wounds we’ve suffered in life. She doesn’t get all touchy-feely and mushy, she just states it plainly and simply.

So thank you Martha Beck for the best piece of advice I have ever received, and probably will ever receive in my entire life. I never did finish the book, maybe someday when I’m done with therapy who knows. But I do know this, all the self-help books, all the life-coaching sessions, all the positive little mantras, all that stuff would have been a complete waste of time without the therapy. So for all of you consumers of life-coaching services and readers of self-help books do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already - spend your hard-earned money on a good therapist and then use what’s left over for the life-coach if you still need her/him.

For the record Ms. Beck is a pretty funny gal and a good writer so if y’all like that in your self-help books perhaps you should look her up. Oh and Martha when you read this, don’t bother sending me a check for the free plug I just gave you, I owed you one.


  1. I happen to read way too many self-help books :) I did read this book and enjoyed it. Now, as for applying the principles to my life...

  2. JSS - The only self help book I have ever read is 'Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway'.
    Says something that I have never read one since!

  3. The thing that these self-help books don't get is that in order for us to act on the things written in their books we must be of the right mind and body to act on them. In other words our whole psychic condition must be healthy. Unfortunately it is those that are buying and reading these books whose psychic conditions are the farthest from healthy and so we read these books, we try our damndest to put these recommendations into action and since we're in bad psychic condition we fail which only leads to a worse psychic condition which is caused by the fact that we flog ourselves yet further for our failure to accomplish the simple 10 steps outlined in the book.

    You might be able to 'feel the fear', lets face it everyone, EVERYONE feels fear, all the time I might add. You are unequivocally not alone in this. There is NOT ONE single person out there who has not doubted themselves, been intimated by things, been afraid, been consumed from time to time by self-doubt.
    Where was I? Ah yes, you might be able to feel the fear but unless you are in good emotional health you will not, I repeat WILL NOT be able to 'do it anyway'.

    Like I said in my post, the one single best piece of advice I got was this point exactly. I don't need the rest of the book anymore. Truth is Ms. Beck should have put this fact as the very first chapter in the book. If you are not emotionally healthy than don't bother reading this book or any self-help book because it won't do you a damn bit of good, you will NOT find your North Star, you will NOT be able to feel the fear and do it anyway. And thems the cold, hard facts... except that's not really all that cold and hard, it's just the facts. So... what do I do about it? Well, figure out how to improve my emotional health first and not worry about all that other stuff second.