Sunday, June 28, 2009

Self Help

I read self-help books from time to time, but rarely discover any insight of lasting importance. All the books repeat the same slogans: Overcome fear with action! Expand your comfort zone! Take responsibility for your life! Think positively! Choose affirming friends! Be generous! Embrace spirituality!

The slogans sound good but ultimately leave you right where you started.

Susan Jeffers wrote a self-help book with the catchy title Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. The book is typical of the genre. The perky, upbeat prose makes you want to shout, "Yes, I can handle it! I choose life and love!" Then you calm down and return to your same old mopey ways.

However, Jeffers offered one example in her book that made me think. Using a negative illustration, she described how to make poor decisions using the No-Win Model:

1. Listen to your mind drive you crazy.
2. Paralyze yourself with anxiety as you try to predict the future.
3. Don't trust your impulses -- listen to what everyone else thinks.
4. Feel the heaviness of having to make a decision.

1. Create anxiety by trying to control the outcome.
2. Blame someone else if it doesn't work out as you pictured.
3. If it does work out, keep wondering if it would have been better the other way.
4. Don't correct if the decision is "wrong" -- you have too much invested.

I have applied the No-Win Model myself and can vouch for the lousy results. Here is my own self-help slogan: Do the opposite of the No-Win Model!