Are you a #selfhelpaddict?
Your email inbox is like a gatecrashed house party, full of subscriptions you’ve only viewed once or twice but can’t let go of. A folder bursting with downloaded ebooks, opt-ins, freebies, how-to guides, 7-steps-to-everything. Unopened Facebook “saves”. Search history chock full of TED talks. A stack of unread books at your bedside hoping for miracle consumption by osmosis while you sleep.
There is a big difference between the wonderful hunger for self exploration, and the need to consume everything out of Self Help FOMO. As an emerging coach there was a time I felt that I needed to know everyone out there and follow all their shit. Yet all this was doing was replace the “old-Kris” of “not being good enough” with a new “not being self aware enough”!! I realised my pushing and gluttonous consumption was clouding my clarity so much that I couldn’t see in order to keep going. My hunger for more was actually making me do less.
As the artist Brenda Mangalore says, “regardless of manifesting, motivational speeches, and TED talks, you still have to do the fucking work.” So here is how I unbound myself from Self Help Suffocation, and now consume less while actioning more.
One at a Time
Self love? Business? Creativity? Money mindset? There are so many self development topics out there and I found the more I tried to cover at once, the less I processed, absorbed and actually embodied into action. Try asking yourself what topic is really tugging at you for attention, or the one that will make the biggest difference to your life right now, and dedicate yourself to that for a period. This doesn’t have to be strictly set in stone, but I find I connect with material much more potently if I am not stretching myself across the entire Wheel of Life. For example, last month I was immersed in the divine feminine, this month it appears to be Soulful Business. It feels way more focused and intentional. If you aren't sure what would make the biggest difference to your life right now - a coach could help you with that ;)
Necessary NOW or Nice-to-have?
Stay in your own lane. Just because everyone else is watching something doesn’t mean you have to! Focus on what you actually need right now by being really honest with yourself. Are you feeling stressed and tired? Then perhaps that introduction to meditation which caught your eye is more appropriate than the webinar on Manifesting. Are you lacking in Self Love? Then perhaps a book on this will be more helpful than those TED Talks on Unleashing Your Creative Potential. Are you in the early stage of launching your business? Then an e-book on writing the best Services page copy will serve you best now, rather than the short course on Becoming Booked Out! It doesn’t mean you cannot be multi-passionate and have varied interested but be intentional with your timing. The next tip can help you in structuring this time too.
Create a Curiosity folder
If that social share, article, video, or short course is a “nice to have”, then set is aside in a “Curiosity” folder. If you miss out by leaving it too long and the resource is removed or access becomes closed, don’t fret. You haven’t missed out on the secret to life, and chances are it will reappear again later when you actually need it.
Then, set yourself some “Curiosity Time” to consume one piece, perhaps every second day. It could become your coffee ritual, or a replacement for TV one evening a week (unless it’s that next episode of Gotham and you’re obsessed with Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin, then keep watching TV!!)
A note on emails …
Sabri Suby describes email as “other people’s to-do lists for you”, and that is a concept that struck me when I first read it. Just because an email is there doesn’t mean it needs to be read, replied or actioned straight away. And this goes for newsletters and subscriptions too! If you have the time and it’s something that is really relevant, then read the newsletter article then and there. Jot down the key lesson and file the email away. You can always come back to explore in more depth but you’ve captured the nugget. If you find you have numerous newsletters unopened in your inbox it might be time to question why you are subscribed! (I hope I am either consumed or filed for later rather than in this category!)
A bonus tip - don’t check emails as soon as you wake up. This is a huge one for me coming from 8 years in advertising where I may as well have been married to my inbox! My bedroom is off limits for my phone, and when I wake up I ignore that little envelope until I’ve completed my morning routine and have actively sat down to start my work day. Emails can wait. I have both my personal and business email accounts open as tabs on my laptop ALL THE TIME. It is not until writing this that I question why! The thought of closing them makes me slightly anxious so I think it’s something I need to try!
Schedule “Flow Time”
“Flow Time” is different to the above “Curiosity Time”, and it is one I am sure you may struggle with at first like I did. This is time put aside for unattached nothingness. Creating, playing, and relaxing. Not for the outcome of where (or what) it will get you, but for pure pleasure, and to learn the lesson of surrender and detachment. I believe the experience of these things, and becoming comfortable with them, allows us to be more effective in our “doing” time because we’ve given a moment to the centre of our work which is ourselves as the creator. Productivity comes from a balance of progress punctuated with pauses. As Rebecca Campbell reminds us “you don’t need to be busy for things to be happening...if you’re doing all the time there is no space for Mother Earth to do anything for you.”
Gratitude not Guilt
Finally, don’t beat yourself up for not always being “on-top” of your Self Help Game. Guilt is not welcome at a party where the very purpose is to be forgiving and compassionate toward ourselves. You will have moments where you doubt yourself, where your inner critic spews venom at you, where you act out of alignment to please someone else. But, as Amy MacKenzie says “knowing something doesn't make you immune to it.” Be grateful that you are developing the self awareness to bounce back from the struggles, rather than beat yourself up, or feel guilty for having them at all.
You are Flawsome. Perfectly Imperfect. And every other Self Help tagline. You kick ass already, so don’t let an unread book, abandoned blog post, or paused video tell you otherwise.
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