Woo and Gimmicky Bollocks

Back in 2010, I was walking with someone and talking. I can’t remember exactly what about but I do remember quite vividly the moment they asked if I’d ever read any self-help books. I don’t remember much about my response other than “No”. It turned out they had, once, and it had helped them greatly and they recommended the book

I never did read that book. I suspect years of the misconception that self help books were naff and a bit wet overruled any value of a passing recommendation in a casual conversation on the move; that’s not to say I didn’t value the thoughts of the person I was talking to mind you. I believe I concluded, without thinking upon it very deeply at all, that we were two quite different people and what suited them did not suit me in this case. So I dismissed the notion.

Though I always remembered the name of the book…

In the last few months, since starting What Kirsty Did, I’ve read more self-help books than I have throughout the entirety of my life previously. And, well, they’ve helped. They’re not all Woo and gimmicky bollocks designed to take advantage of the vulnerable and needy. Some of them are actually intelligent, well founded and insightful. Who knew!?!

The trick is finding the ones that work for you.

We are all wired differently (as confirmed in my current book on neuroscience this morning! Because, science.). So what works for me might not work for you and vice-versa. And that’s ok. Even if it is Woo, gimmicky bollocks, if it’s Woo gimmicky bollocks that helps you out of a hole then so be it. (Just make sure it does work for you and don’t leave yourself open to counter productive manipulative Woo Gimmicky bollocks that sets you up to fail and in the long term is ineffective at best or at worst, does more harm than good. Treat all self-care books with a pinch of salt and an element of caution)

The reading has helped me largely in validating and expanding on theories and thoughts and ideas  that I already had, half formed and tentative inside me that, as mentioned previously, often made me feel quite isolated as *almost* the whole world seemed to differ with me on them or so it felt.

I realise now I either 1) hadn’t found the right people yet or 2) they didn’t necessarily disagree, it’s just it never had a chance for discussion

Often ideas and theories are there in my head, I’m aware of them, but I can’t always identify them. The struggle was always to refine and articulate them. The authors of my books have articulated concepts and feelings that I have struggled to identify throughout my life, even before depression. Such as the Wonky Boundaries chapter in The Self Care Project. I got so excited when I read that I nearly did a dance right there in Starbucks!

Finally, somebody said it!!! It’s not just me!!! It’s not my imagination!!!Things clicked into place one after the other *click* *click* *click* *click* I became more confident in my personal boundaries and what I stood for and what I was prepared to tolerate.

With increased understanding a  heightened awareness has formed, I’ve become more in tune to what my ‘instincts’ are telling me. If I’m getting that faint hot fluttering feeling, very similar to panic, that tells me someone is taking advantage I know it to be the case. Before I would have torn myself to shreds with self-doubt; not anymore. And whilst I still struggle to assert my boundaries in many scenarios, I’m still practising, this awareness has reduced the crippling self-doubt and confusion that would leave me stewing over a situation for upto months later. I feel healthier, more in control, more self assured and more able to analyse the situation whatever it may be, from a more detached place. Progress has been made!

And The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving a F**k has helped me to worry less about whom I offend when I do assert my boundaries, as well as saving emotional and mental energy, which I wasted so much on to the point of exhaustion, on worrying about things and people that are not important to me (Gluten, ombré eyebrows, the kardashians)  or is beyond my control. Considering one of  S’ nicknames for me is ‘Filter’ because all the negativity from outside seems to wash through me and stick, this is a massive step forward. With this approach, I filter less of other people’s shit . And whilst I might still have an initial automatic inner twang of reaction to something, I’m still a sensitive and emotional person and probably always will be, I’m wasting less  energy on things that don’t matter.

Both books have helped me to stop feeling guilty for saying “No”

But it’s not just a case of choosing ‘yes-men’ books that simply agree with all of your pre-existing views. I’ve been given a lot of food for thought too. After I wrote my Will Smith post the same themes of Fault vs responsibility popped up in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k (which surprisingly has a very different voice and message to the other book about giving F**ks. Both books were read after I’d written my post On Fuck Giving I’d like to add!) Because of how the author Mark Manson phrased the concepts, I’m giving the matter further consideration. I’m not saying I agree, far from it, but my view on the matter is not fixed (non of my views are really. I always write from my perception as it stands in the current moment. Indeed, How else can I write?) and in light of new take on the matter, the topic is currently cooking within the recess’ of my brain.

In fact I’m finding that, perhaps because my brain is atuned to the subject matter and notices things related to it more, I keep stumbling across the same themes that I’m reading and writing about almost at every turn. I wrote The Positivity Pandemic and the next day, happened to find a book with the words “Fuck Positivity” in the blurb. I bought it straight away!

The key is not finding books that simply confirm your pre-existing views, in books that prove you right. You can’t claim to have good knowledge of British politics if you’ve only ever read books and media that confirm your long-standing  view that the Tories or Labour are evil (spoiler alert, they’re both as corrupt as each other). It keeps you exactly where you currently are. Pure validation is not progress, it’s hindrance and counter- productive.  You need a spin, a take or a message that works for you and that you can relate to but you also need new information and to be challenged just a little. You need new insights and a few lightbulb moments.

I Love the above books, but I don’t agree with everything they say. I’m not sure I’d even like the authors of a couple of them to be honest. But whether I like the author personally or not is entirely irrelevant; what’s important is the message they’re imparting. And  I don’t have to agree on everything. But I do have to think

I feel like I’m flying up the progress mountain at the moment. My self-awareness, which is forever an ongoing process of course,  is becoming increasingly more acute. I feel healthier and more confident in my beliefs and what I stand for. I feel stronger within myself

I say that, I am still struggling to have energy and motivation, to go out and socialise and to be more present. I still have my day to day struggles and crashes. But there are many parts to the depression picture and they won’t all become clear at an equal rate

Writing for What Kirsty Did has helped me  too, and much good has come from it. The work that’s come from it has given me a sense of identity I never previously had and hadn’t realised how valuable that is.

But I’ve been increasingly aware of the irony of my reading about 100 self-help books of late, after that brief conversation back in 2010

As with all my views, my stance adjusted in light of new evidence

Come to think of it, I must add the book they recommended to my reading list….

Much Love

Kirsty