Self-Help becoming Self-Hindrance? Let’s fix that.

ear Miracles:As most of you know because I say it and write it again and again and again, the Delphic Oracle is one misquoted Priestess. She is always attributed with the saying: Know Thyself but on the cave in Greece, where the oracles were actually given there are two phrases:

Know Thyself, and None Too Much.

The “none too much” part is often left off because it is too nuanced, too complicated, too mysterious. I often meditate on the “none too much” and I have found much material to work with. One of the primary things I think the oracle is speaking to is the phenomena we see today all too often of self-help becoming self-hindrance. When we start to know, examine, and dive into ourselves, our complexes, our “issues” in ways that are not only not helpful but can become, quite quickly, absolutely paralyzing and debilitating. Left to our own devices we may incline a little towards over-examination but most of the time what I see is that self-help becomes a hindrance, self-knowledge comes an unending critique-fest because we are listening to the wrong people and engaging in experiences that were never really helpful to begin with.

The self-help and spirituality industry, and it is an industry make no mistake, is like every other industry from solar to oil and everything in between: there are scams a plenty and there are genuinely deep, profound and life-changing opportunities. There are good and ethical people teaching, creating, and making themselves available and there are bad and unethical people who will take advantage of you, your mother, and your great Aunt Mary without batting an eye. Most people fall somewhere in between.

I believe in self-help. I think that encouraging each other to learn to help ourselves and one another is a good thing. I also believe that too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing. So it is that self-help can become the greatest self-hindrance if we are not paying attention.

So the obvious question is, how can one know when this has happened?

Below I offer a few red-flags that I have seen and experienced first hand, followed by useful questions to contemplate. May they be of help, genuine help, to you.

Signs that Self-Help has become Self-Hindrance

  • When the advice/course/blueprint/system/program/teaching/therapy session makes you feel smaller instead of bigger and/or makes you feel narrowed down instead of expanded and/or makes you feel more afraid instead of more loved, more fearful instead of more loving.
  • When the teacher/preacher/guru/shaman/medicine-maker/instructor/coach/therapist muffles disagreement, derides difference of opinion, allows no room for individual expression and different ways and kinds of knowing.
  • When you are told in verbal or other fashion that this and only this medicine/program/idea/system/blueprint/teaching/course is the ONLY thing that can save, redeem, change for the better, and bring happiness, joy, the perfect body, great sex, and enlightenment.
  • When participants are kept in the dark about the lineage inspiring said teacher/preacher/guru/shaman/medicine maker/instructor/coach/therapist, and/or when participants are not encouraged, enabled, and supported in having their own experience with whatever primary source materials speak to their study.

Good Questions to Ask and Think About:

  • Who am I listening to? Does this person’s approach ideas, values, and opinions make me feel bigger or smaller? Do they make me feel more love or more fear?
  • Am I allowed to bring my own voice into the work?
  • Is this experience presented as the only thing I will ever need for a happy life, as something where I do not have to do any work or make any effort at all and everything I want will be delivered with ease and effortlessness?
  • Do I understand the lineage of teaching, writing, idea, experience, philosophy, and feeling that this work comes out of? If there is primary source material in written form or otherwise, do I have access to it and does the person I am listening to support me investigating further on my own?


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