On Amazon, my book is classified under the banner of self-help. Which absolutely pisses me off to no end. It’s unfortunate and misleading, since I don’t believe my book, Refuse to Lose is a self-help book. Rather it is a book on my experiences, I hope to provide an alternative perspective for my audience through relatable experiences, I am definitely not a self-help guru. The limited range of categories offered by Amazon Kindle Publishing forces me into the category ‘self-help’. Why does it piss me off? Because I despise the million dollar self-help industry and all that it stands for. The self-help market is flooded with books that either advocate some 12 step program, or they promote a list of specific must have characteristics, that if you can develop will ensure you achieve your hopes and dreams. But here’s the cold hard truth, it’s all freaken bullshit. Many self-help resources are written by experts in their field who’s experience is limited to the theory they’ve studied, or they piggy back off their patients experiences. Few resources are written by experts who have faced genuine struggle, and adversity. Because if they were, they’d realize the answer to how you can enjoy a life filled with happiness, and all those aspirational objectives is really relatively simple. All you have to do is,
“Make a choice”
That’s it people! Irrespective of the objective, goal or dream your trying to achieve, whatever it is your going after, the only way to achieve it is to make a choice. If you want to lose weight, then make the choice. Want to go to college … make the choice. Want to end a toxic relationship, make the choice. Want to meet Mr or Mrs Right, make the choice. It’s just not that simple, I hear you cry. Well yes it is. You make the choice and you focus all your energy and attention on that choice. I can already hear the reactions of many of you and they all start with “But”. Buts are just another opportunity to make more choices.
Stop over complicating things! Stop making excuses, you are in total control of your life. You don’t need a ten step plan to realize if you want to lose weight, eat a healthy diet and exercise more, these are choices you need to make, if weight loss is the goal. Do you really think a guru on the seven steps to infinite inspiration is going to get you on the treadmill pounding out those miles? No that’s a choice you need to make on your own. Its high time, many of us realize, we are all accountable for our choices, we cannot afford to outsource our personal development to some self-professed life expert. If we stick with the weight loss analogy, who do you think is there to stop you over indulging in cake? Not the self-help guru, that’s on you. You need to own your choices, be accountable.
“But what if I don’t like the choices available?” Then you have another choice to make, you either confront the fear, examining the reason behind the fear, or choose another path, in order to achieve your goal. For example, those of you intimidated by the thought of going to a gym, where the equipment is as foreign as a second ,language, your negative internal chatter will happily use this as your Achilles heal, pardon the pun. You’ll tell yourself, you can’t get fit, because joining a gym is out of the question, whether it be due to financial reasons or just purely because you can’t stand the smell of the sweat and grind, so then you make a new choice. Choose another means to get in your daily dose of exercise. Once you make the choice to pursue an objective, just sticking to your initial choice, will prompt several more choices, and so begins the cycle of internal chatter. Your choice to lose weight for example may call into question who you are, it might challenge you, push you to confront deeper issues, move you out of the comfort zone. Whilst it is easy to say, ‘make a choice and stick with it’ it’s not as simple to do. Which is why self-help resources are limiting. No one, other than yourself can talk down the internal chatter in your head, it’s a choice, whether you listen to it or not is up to you. That’s right, you need to choose which voice of reason, you’re going to listen too.
Nearly all of my tougher choices involved facing my own fears head on. Some choices I had to dig deep and lean into my courage and determination to persist. These choices demanded I look at the ugly parts of who I am and address them. When I could finally admit I had developed an addiction to pharmaceutical pain killers, I summoned the courage and made the decision to stop. This choice, lead to the honest self-reflection, of why I felt the need to get lost in a haze of oxycodone.
Not all of the choices you need to make will lead you to utopia, rose kisses and unicorns. Some choices will take you down a dark path that reveals more about yourself than perhaps you bargained for, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make that choice. In fact when you start to make the hard choices is when you truly begin to grow, develop and build on your mental strength. It takes mental fortitude to find the determination to stick to your choices.
Self-help often serves to over complicate matters. It serves as another convenient excuse, another reason to justify why you can’t do something. Am I being callous, insensitive, or just a plan bitch, since I don’t know your back story, what you’ve been through, your struggles? Whilst I may not know your plight, you can be rest assured of one thing, I am certain you are not alone, we all experience struggles, we are all challenged at one time or another, your story, like my own is not the exception.
Life is a series of choices, you have to decide for yourself. No one will do it for you. My book Refuse to Lose, is based on my life experiences, I do not give plans, or guides I have simply detailed my own struggles, warts and all, and the choices I had to make to overcome the challenges life threw my way. Often when I detail snippets from my own shit show, I experience reactions like “How did you get through?” The question would perplex me, in my own mind I had assumed “Like I had a choice”. Reflecting on my answer, it began to dawn on me, Yes I did have a choice, I refused to lose. The mantra had become an attitude so ingrained in my soul, I didn’t even realize it’s how I inherently approached every challenge, obstacle, adversity that came my way.
Make no mistake, you can read hundreds of self-help books and resources, in the end you will still need to make the necessary choices, if you want to achieve the life you have set for yourself. No guru, is able to leap off the page and make that choice for you, or help you do the work required to support your choices. Sure you may be inspired to make the choices you need to make, but at the end of the day you still have to do the doing yourself no one is going to do it for you. You still need to show up and choose to put in.
I am sure one could argue that self-help leads you there, but the reality is, the only person who is going to save you is … well you guessed it … YOU.