Somehow it took me way too long to finish this book about self-help, but in the end it was an interesting read.
What happens when you try to follow the advice of various self-help books for a year? It certainly wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for author Marianne Power and she tells openly about her experiment in her first book: Help Me!
I wasn’t taking a swim in Lake Me, I was drowning in it. Self-examination had turned to self-loathing.
I think I will stay away from self-help related books for a while now. 🙂
When author Marianne Power was feeling unsatisfied with various aspects about her life, and she decided to see if self-help books would really help change things if she followed their advice for a year. So she set out to read one book each month and followed the “rules” of each book as much as she could. The books included titles like the Power of Now and the Secret and other more or less famous self-help books.
Turns out it was an exhausting year for Marianne and she ended up getting much worse than before the self-help experiment. It seemed like all that self-examination turned into a spiral of neurotic analyzing of which she couldn’t get out of. And once depression started to sneak back to her, it was time to go to therapy and slowly start to let go of the self-help books and get out of her own brain.
The tone of the book is very honest, Marianne Power doesn’t hide the good nor the bad that happened because of her year with self-help. In fact, it’s so honestly all about her, and her various problems, that I had the urge to skip some parts of the book because at times I felt like I couldn’t listen to her speak about herself anymore. 🙂 This was a problem Marianne herself encountered too so it’s appropriate that I would get the same feeling about her obsessive self-analyzing that she and her friends felt too. But it made the book a bit slow to read as I had to take some breaks from it, even though I enjoyed reading it.
I think Help Me! is a very modern and current book and it really taps into the bubble that our self-centered generation is living in. It’s all about me, myself and I and the problems we have, whether they are actual problems or not. I can admit that sometimes I’m way too worked up about some nonsense, and fretting about it for ages, that I lose sight of all the good that I have in me and around me. It’s a slippery slope and I can understand how easy it is to get lost in oneself and not find a way out.
I’ve read my share of self-help books, so I was able to relate to many details in Help Me!. It would be so easy to just buy a bunch of books (more than you will actually read) and just trust them to fix you. But if there is a huge baggage within you, waiting to be decluttered, it can be a burden to get through it with only self-help books and your own mind. It’s easy to lose perspective and drive yourself nuts, and others around you, when you’re just going in circles with your thoughts. Just like Marianne Power, I too have found the best help in therapy. It’s good to have someone to give that perspective, when you can’t seem to find a way forward from your issues. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t read self-help books, they can be a great inspiration! But the books shouldn’t replace professional and individual help.
From my own experience, I can warmly recommend psychotherapy and simple mindfulness exercises. And of all the self-help Marianne Power tried during her self-help year, I think I could try doing more things that frighten me. And no, I wouldn’t jump from a plane or go into a room full of rats and spiders, but I could experiment more with fear that has to do with social situations or my own self confidence. Perhaps some day I’ll go to a yoga weekend with strangers or have the courage to write a book. 🙂
Help Me! gets a spot in the Reading Challenge, of course. It’s a bit random but Help Me! will fill the prompt of:
31. Someone travels by metro in the book
The book happens in London and the Tube is used quite a few times in Help Me! Not the most obvious prompt to fill with this book but oh well. 🙂
I enjoyed reading Help Me! and I hope Marianne Power will continue writing more books.