Why Self-Help Won't Help You

There's a lot of self-help out there. Yoga, books, conferences, inspirational tweeters. Some of it helps! People get healthy, intuitive, creative. They become capable originators in their own lives. They handle challenges with ease, and inspire others to do the same. You want to know these people!

But a lot of self-help doesn't help. People get less healthy, both in their minds and bodies. Intuition fades. Creativity is lost. Many seek the next expert-guru to tell them where to go, what to do, how to live. I've seen this happen a lot around the yoga and wellness communities. We all have. Maybe we've even seen it in our own lives.

What if you could just go to the kind of self-help that actually helps? What if there were a giant red flag flying high over the kind that doesn't?

Well, maybe there's a way to do this. Here are a red flags to keep an eye out for if you're seeking self-help:

Red Flag: If you gravitate toward self-help — but you want someone else to help you — it won't work.

I see this next one a lot.

Red Flag: If you gravitate toward yoga — wanting "yoga" to help you — it won't work.

Here's the problem. Nobody else's rules, ways, or life plans are going to do much for you. Nobody else's yoga is going to do much for you. The yoga that works is the kind you make for yourself. The life that works is the kind you make for your self.

If you push and force to get into someone else's rules, someone else's shape, someone else's life, you may feel better temporarily, or at least distracted. A purpose has been given to you! But it won't last. It won't work.

The stress and strain of this struggle creates physical injury. Worse, it hurts your mind and your life. You've practiced saying "I'm not enough. I can't get where I need to go on my own feet. I need someone else to get me there."

Luckily, there's also a green flag.

Green Flag: Self-help works when you help yourself.

It seems obvious, but this one can be tough. When you're looking for self-help, inertia tends to pull you into something different: sharing your failure and struggle. This isn't always a bad thing! It can be comforting. Comfort can help. But it doesn't help if you get stuck here, complaining.

For self-help to work, you need to move past shared failure into shared success — not holding each other down while hiding from challenge — but lifting each other up to handle challenge with ease.

We aren't generally looking to wrap a security blanket around ourselves, change our names, and hide away from the world. But if we're not careful, that's the easiest thing to do. It's what so many self-help gurus give, because it's what they have in their own lives: struggle without lift.

What you have in your own life is what you have to share. So here's one more red flag.

Red Flag: Self-help gurus who have the words and phrases, but not the life.

You're not in this to humor someone because they bought Twitter followers or an email list, and can now repeat what they read in a book. You're in this to get inspired to create an inspiring you. Inspiration is infectious. We give to each other exactly what we've created in our own lives.

It takes work to build something useful in your life. Even more important, it takes belief in your self — in your ability to be the most capable originator of your own inspiring life.

This is how you help yourself. Feel, believe what you feel, and respond. Find your own way to make your own radiant health and life. Messages of help — or helping hands — can inspire us. They can lift us up. But we each get to do our own work, on our own feet.

Don't wait for yoga or anyone to do things for you. Do for yourself. Support others to do the same, and you'll be supported in return. You'll create great things in the world when you create great things in yourself.

Michael Taylor

Co-Founder Of Strala Yoga & Tai Chi Expert
Mike Taylor is the co-founder of Strala along with his wife, Tara Stiles. He studied mind-body medicine at Harvard and complementary medicine at Oxford. Mike has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qigong, for more than 30 years. In his younger years, Mike challenged centuries of reasonable and well-tested martial traditions in hundreds of competitions by applying unruly imagination to a world where rules were unbreakable. His record established the strength of finding your own way in your own body rather than copying the techniques of other people’s traditions. As he got older, Mike continued on to medical applications of the mind-body connection in university. After running into walls with standard medical practice in the United States and England, he left his health care roots for a little while. As the first internet boom was getting started, he joined the startup team of one company, then founded a couple more. Now through Strala, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, enable their lives, and become their own best caregivers.Mike has climbed some of the world’s largest mountains in Alaska, the Alps, and the Himalayas. He’s now a cyclist and runner and spends as much free time as possible exploring the backcountry on foot, skis, and snowboard. He lives in New York with his wife, Tara, and baby, Daisy.
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Michael Taylor

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