Self Help

Here is an interesting thought about self help;

Gravity sometimes doesn't work.

Some things are both waves and particles. . .at the same time.

Electrons simply disappear . . . all the time.

If the universe is this wild and unpredictable, so full of possibility, why are your thoughts about your own life so limited?

I think the first self help book I read was "Think and Grow Rich" by Nathaniel Hill, which was part of my first career attempt, as an insurance salesman.

While I enjoyed the book, the career did not last long. I am not cut out to do that kind of sales.

As I remember it, I accepted the book as authoritative, partly because I had little life experience, and now I find myself telling my clients many of the same things that Nathaniel Hill advocated, that they need to be aware of and change thinking frequently, maybe as often as every 1/18th second, and that 1/18th of a second reference is from a book called "Flow" by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi.

I also remember the "The Whole Earth Catalog" by Stuart Brand, I believe, from my college days, so there is definitely a history of self help in my life. Now I subscribe to Mother Earth News though, for my guidance on energy efficiency, for example.

When I think of self help today, from my professional perspective, I think first of Alcoholics Anonymous and all the other 12 step programs, including the entire codependence movement, and I think of all the meditative and self-exploration sites. See below for some ideas on heart thoughts or living thoughts.

Then I might think of something like Kris Carr's Ning network, Crazy Sexy Life, where several thousand folks, mostly women share hope and strength and information as they work on regaining their health through both medical and self help methods.

We in the Western world have this tradition of taking things into our own hands and creating something when we get impatient with the professionals, and I think that is great.

We create entire movements, and self help is one of them.

I thought it might be interesting to include this take on self help by Dick Frak, which gives a history to the words self help.

History of the Words Self Help

By Dick Frak,

"On the face of it, self help is an attractive proposition because it appeals to our desire to remain in control and to our sense of involvement. It's also consistent with the recent policy signals of an evolution from modernisation to personalisation. But before things become generally obvious, they have a certain origin and history. In this article Dick Frak asks: What's the history of self help? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach and its implications for mental health? Should we be enthusiastic or cautious?

When the French aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville, was sent by the French government to America in 1831 to study the American prison system, he took copious notes on all aspects of American life. De Tocqueville published his observations as Democracy in America in 1835. He was particularly impressed by an American disposition for 'forever forming associations, whether religious, moral, serious, futile, very general or very limited'. He observed that 'As soon as Americans have conceived a sentiment or idea that they want to produce before the world, they seek each other out, and when found, they unite. Thenceforward they are no longer isolated individuals, but a power conspicuous from a distance whose actions serve as an example; when they speak, people listen.'

De Tocqueville's American contemporary, Ralph Waldo Emerson, emphasizes the vital importance of confidence based on self-trust in his essay Self-Reliance (1841). This finds an echo in modern self help manuals. The American psychiatrist, M Scott Peck, in his bestselling The Road Less Traveled (1978) advocates self- discipline, restraint and personal responsibility. So is there something culturally specific to America that made it the home of self help? And can it transfer to the UK mental health context?

The recent past

The most well-known contemporary examples of self-help in mental health have American origins. The mental health recovery movement is very much associated with the US disability rights movement of the 1970s and 1980s. But it dates back to 1937 and the work of a Chicago psychiatrist, Dr Abraham Low, who observed the need for some structure to continue to provide support to patients discharged from an institutional setting into a society without community mental health provision.

He envisaged the formation of self help groups of ex-patients. Dr Low led the first such self help group in November 1937, made up of 30 patients of the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute. He closely supervised this and other recovery self help groups through establishing an organisation known as Recovery Incorporated, which still exists in Chicago today. Many recovery self help groups were established across the US, and they played a part in developing the first user-only spaces that were important in the development of a user perspective on mental health and mental illness.

The Present

Self help in mental health is now most often regarded as self care and self management In the UK, mental health self management is most commonly associated with the programme for depression developed by The Manic Depression Fellowship. This course was originally developed from the generic Chronic Disease Self Management Programme developed at Stanford University by Professor Kate Lorig, who sees self management as managing life with a long term condition, increasing skills and self-confidence and taking part in problem solving and decision making. This struck a chord with UK policy makers driving government thinking about health - that there should be a more equal professional-patient relationship, improved patient information and support, as well as the promotion of greater self reliance. Welcome back, Mr Emerson! "

All self help begins with a thought, which only happens in the brain, so doesn't it make sense to prepare the brain to be the best brain for self help?

We can prepare the brain's capacity for neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.

Neurogenesis is the growth of new brain cells every day, and neuroplasticity is the word used to describe the brain's constantly seeking to make new neuronal connections.

Those connections translate into an increase in problem solving ability, for example, or an increase in fluid intelligence.

Sounds like self help to me, making sure my brain grows new neurons every day.

IQ can be increased by using the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, and the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program has had wonderful results for Senior Citizens using it.

They are both computerized brain fitness programs now available for self-help.

For the best brain fitness help, you should check out

Brainfit for Life by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D., neuroscientists from the University of Michigan who have culled brain fitness tips from the research and put them into a wonderful easy-to-read, chock full of wisdom format describing the life style choices we can make for the best self help brain possible, including a discussion of the research involved in the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Program, linked to below.

In the tradition of Emerson and M.Scott Peck mentioned above, Evans and Burghardt say that by making some wise life style choices we can make our brain fitter.

Those life style choices involve physical exercise, (or physical activity), nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences, including the computerized brain fitness programs.

If you like the technological aids for self help stress management, please check out the link to the HeartMath emWave in the right column. Very good and easy. 

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Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro - Software that makes you smarter

Self Help Programs

Self Help Software

Self Help Stress

Self Help Tools

Self Esteem Help

Self Help Information

How to Self Help

Top Self Help

Online Journaling

Heart Thoughts

Living Thoughts

Healing Thoughts

Codependency Definition

Codependency Recovery

Codependency in Relationships

Codependency Test

Self Help Brain

Self Help Advice

Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps

History of AA

Self-help with research and it increases your IQ? I know it has done wonders for my ability to keep my 69 year old brain focused.

Would You Share Something That You Are Grateful For?

When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.

Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.

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