Many people embark on a journey of reflection or healing as a result of a loss or life event. Others are simply truth seekers or empaths, and like to swim in the depths of meaning, purpose, or divine knowledge.
Whatever the impetus, entering the world of self-help is usually well worth it. Trauma and hardship affect every human, and there are some things that do indeed need to be addressed, in my opinion.
However, self-improvement can become a trap. If you’re starting to feel drained or empty, read on. You’ll learn 10 ways to love yourself when self-help starts to feel yucky.
Why Self-Help Can Start to Feel Yucky
As I mentioned above, the initial reason you were drawn to healing or self-help is totally valid. I believe that therapy or counseling (with a licensed professional) should be the bedrock of your strategy. Other popular self-help tools include books, retreats, workshops, alternative healing modalities like Reiki, and meditation.
Once you process and work through the bulk of your feelings and any aftereffects, such as false beliefs that were birthed from trauma, there’s a fork in the road. You can either step away and take what you’ve learned to hopefully better your life; or you can delve deeper into self-improvement or spirituality.
As a caveat, it’s not like the “work” is ever done. We’re constantly growing, evolving, and having new experiences as humans. That’s why the fine line between getting needed support and being on a never ending hamster wheel of “fixing” is tricky.
But if self-help is starting to feel off or yucky, that’s your little warning light. You’re on the hamster wheel, and it may be time to get off. Constant healing is actually not loving yourself. If you are always looking for or focusing on perceived deficits or “shadows,” you’re cultivating an identity of brokenness and perpetuating that vibration. It’s keeping that energy and belief alive in you.
The saying that what you focus on expands, is true. And, you will find plenty of flaws and upsets from the past! We are all flawed and imperfect as humans. Not all flaws need fixing, and they might even be manufactured (either by your mind or the mind of a practitioner you go to) because you are looking for them. The dark side of the self-help industry is that, as with most for-profit operations, they benefit from you being a continual customer – not being healed and walking away.
How to Love Yourself When Self-Help Becomes Too Much
Here are 10 suggestions on how to love yourself and re-center when self-help or spiritual work starts to drain you.
1. Pause all self-help work and related spending
Just stop and take a break. You can decide later if you will continue. You might even notice that the prospect of a self-help hiatus makes you anxious. Even though self-help is perhaps ALSO making you anxious, you feel a compulsion to continue. This is the hallmark of addiction. Almost anything can become addictive, and self-help is no exception. Although this makes it harder to pause, it’s confirmation that doing so is important.
And adding on from my earlier point about the self-help industry being a for-profit operation (with rare exceptions), it can get expensive. Like, really expensive. Many ex-new agers I’ve spoken to share how they spent many tens of thousands of dollars (or more) over years of trying to heal and fix themselves. Pausing any self-help expenses, ongoing or new, will benefit you in more ways than one.
2. Consume unrelated content only
Continuing on from the above point, stopping self-help may leave a huge vacuum. What will you fill it with? Get back in touch with books, podcasts, interviews, movies, etc, whatever you like – that are about anything but self-help! Fiction novels can be engrossing and fun, or consider a rom com movie to lighten the mood.
3. Explore outside interests
If you got really deep into self-help, you may have forgotten about prior hobbies or passions. What draws you? Now that you’ve cleared the slate (even if temporarily), reflect or journal on what inspires and interests you. Maybe it’s time to plan a trip to a faraway land (not a self-help retreat!), or to see a friend.
Self-help and spirituality can bring us up into our head or upper chakras a lot, so I suggest grounding activities. Take a walk or run, try knitting, hike a mountain, take a bath.
4. Laugh and have some fun
Self-help can get really serious, really fast. The constant seeking or attempting to address shadows and traumas is often heavy and draining. It is actually not your job to find and fix everything in you that is “faulty” or hurt. It’s also not possible.
Go to a comedy show, watch a silly movie, laugh with friends. Remind yourself that you are enough as you are, and live a little.
5. Reflect on what brought you here
This point doesn’t mean getting bogged down with trauma or loss again. It’s to simply take a moment and check in with yourself. What brought you to self-help work and have you seen results? Have you received the benefit or insight you were seeking?
As I noted above, the journey is never done. But there was likely something specific that led you to where you are now. Take stock of that, and consider if you want to continue the seeking.
6. Forgive yourself
Forgiveness of self may not resonate, and that’s fine. Go with what you feel. But if you do feel like you want or need to forgive yourself for giving your power away, lean into that. Have you betrayed yourself by looking to others for answers too much, whether they be practitioners, authors, or self-help gurus?
Step away from other people’s perspectives or advice, no matter how knowledgeable or gifted they seem. Give yourself some appreciation for trying to heal, and let go of any “mistakes” you made along the way.
7. Journal on your best qualities and what you’re grateful for
Instead of focusing on your faults or traumas, focus on your strengths. Write them out, and really own them. Brainstorm how you can use them to help yourself and others. Let yourself shine.
A gratitude practice can be very powerful too. Write down or simply note in your head everything you are grateful for, either that day or in general.
8. Detach from new age concepts
New age spirituality is centered around the self. It can get quite narcissistic, which is a topic of its own for another day. For now, I recommend setting aside these concepts.
Many of the new age practices, like manifesting via the law of attraction and striving to ascend to 5D, invert self-healing into self-blaming. For example, you can’t manifest your ideal job because your vibration isn’t high enough or you have “blocks.”
9. Slow down and get back to basics
With the free time you have during this self-help break, RELAX. Take the pressure off. Cook a healthy meal, take a nap, go to bed earlier.
If it feels uncomfortable to slow down and be in the moment more, investigate if codependent tendencies are a pattern for you.
10. Remind yourself there’s nothing to fix
This is the bottom line. Even with extensive trauma, faults, and losses – which every human has, to a greater or lesser extent – you are not broken. There is nothing to fix inside yourself. You are perfect in your imperfection.
When you don’t get this at a deep level, you are vulnerable to the influence of others. You are more likely to seek and accept expensive (financially and/or emotionally) “fixes,” like coaching programs or retreats that you don’t need or are not authentic. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes those things are worthwhile. However, there’s a fine line. You can still learn lessons and grow as a person, and hopefully do.
Empower Yourself When Self-Help Starts to Feel Exhausting
There you have it! Love yourself through a pause in – or while doing – self-help. Once you’ve been on a break for a while, contemplate if you truly want to get back on the hamster wheel. If your honest answer is yes, go for it. If not, you’ve liberated yourself!
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you have questions or need support.
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