The self help book that didn't help

Posted September 08, 2017

The self help book that didn't help

Sorry, Susan. I couldn’t get beyond the post-it exercise.

I have never bought a self help book in my life. I am, however, plagued by self doubt. So that’s why Feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers made it on to my holiday reading list this year. It promised to rid me of my anxieties and improve my ability to handle any situation. Why not give it a go?

The post-it exercise is one of many tips included in the book. It involves writing motivational phrases on (you guessed it!) post-it notes and sticking them to the bathroom mirror, fridge door, bedside table - any surface, anywhere in the house. The more, the better. Reading these messages from the moment I wake up, will apparently help me stay positive. 

I decided not to try. I don’t like mess. This would only induce stress and make me want to tidy up. I also baulked at the idea of turning into a happy clown clone. It’s not normal to wake up like a little sunbeam, sprinkling joy wherever I go. In fact, it’s so out of character for me, my husband would have me sectioned.

Overly cheerful people scare me. Take Kim Jong-un. He’s a happy chap. The people around him always look happy too. No doubt they're incentivised by the fact that the first to stop smiling faces the firing squad. Being over confident, like Donald Trump, isn’t good either. He has a can-do attitude that never wanes (more’s the pity). Even in the middle of the night he’s still tweeting his own special brand of inspirational messages. To him, they sound great. To the rest of us, they are the stuff of nightmares. Both men put a new twist on the feel the fear theme. It’s more a case of instill the fear and do it anyway.

In addition to reading motivational sayings, the book also encourages affirmation (positive self-talk). I must admit, the first thing that sprung to mind was Brigit Jones confidently stating “I’ll do it” before sliding down a fireman’s pole and having her backside land squarely in front of the camera. I tried to shake the image from my head (smutty positive thoughts don’t count) and focus on Susan’s advice. 

Listen to positive audiotapes, she suggests. And as luck would have it, she just happens to have created a few affirmation tapes of her own, which might be helpful. I know I shouldn’t let negative thoughts creep into my head. Not when the whole point of the book is to rid myself of negativity. But the moment I read this, I couldn’t help thinking product placement. Buy the book, buy the tapes. Kerching! 

I had a look at the online store on the Susan Jeffers website to see what else was on offer. Amongst the products shown was a baseball cap, featuring her icon, selling for $15. Maybe Donald has read the book and decided to go one better? The white baseball cap he's been seen wearing at rallies sells through his Make America Great Again campaign site for $20. 

Clearly Susan Jeffers is doing something right. Her book, which first hit the shelves 25 years ago, is still in print and is available in over one hundred countries. But it wasn’t for me; I gave up half way through. Probably just as well as I was beginning to get on my husband’s nerves. He’d had enough of the eye rolling and heavy sighs as I grappled with my own self improvement. “If it’s not doing anything for you, then leave it,” he said. That was all the affirmation I needed. 

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