All the psychologists and marriage counselors know to flock to my garage sales because every few months my living-room shelves sag with the extreme weight of hundreds of self-help books (ranging from having better relationships to communicating more effectively to figuring out if you’re addicted to self-help books!) and so I put every single paperback and hardbound copy on the front lawn with a sign, “Take All My “Fix Yourself” Books For $500.” Oh! I’m not selling them for that price, I’m actually willing to pay someone that amount to haul them the heck off my property.
In addition to reading scads of these books, I participate in dozens of self-improvement courses, programs, classes, groups, meetings, and listen to Ted-Talks and podcasts. And this is where all of this SELF studying has gotten me today. Have a listen!
SUPPORT GROUP SOCIALIZATION
ME: Wow, that was a great discussion you facilitated today. I got a lot out of it.
ME: No, I just meant it was perfect for me.
ME: Oh gosh, sorry. I appreciate you pointing this stuff out. I don’t think I’ll ever stop saying those kind of things!
ME: Oops, you’re right. I just really want you to like me.
LEADER: Not everybody is always going to like you, you just have to accept that.
ME: Yes, how does that go again? Let’s see…”What other people think of me is none of my business?” Is that right?
ME: Oh now this is getting kinda silly, don’t you think? Just tell me if I said it correctly.
ME: Oops, I guess that kinda was. So how are you? You mentioned last week you were getting over a cold.
ME: Oh gosh, sorry. I didn’t mean to overstep, I was truly concerned. I’ll just keep my big, fat mouth shut from here on in and then maybe you’ll be happy.
LEADER: Self-Deprecating AND Passive Aggressive!
ME: I am soooooo sorry.
Leader: Overly apologetic!
As I leaned in to give her an “I’m not upset” hug goodbye, she whispered “Co-Dependent!” into my ear.
While I went about the rest of my day, I decided that two can play at the psychobabble game! And this time it would be to my advantage.
PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE AT SON’S MIDDLE SCHOOL
PRINCIPAL: We’d like to discuss with you what we foresee after graduation when your son starts high school.
ME: Oh! I’m sorry but I only live in the present moment.
PRINCIPAL: Really?! Well, don’t you think you should think about the fact that he’s not passing several classes at this point and he should have a tutor.
ME: Watch those “should” statements. Always substitute “Could” for “Should.”
PRINCIPAL: Alright. Could you conceive of your son failing biology, history, and math? Because every single one of his teachers Could.
PRINCIPAL: Well, what’s your plan as a mother to cope with your son not graduating?
ME: I’ll just “ACT AS IF” he’s graduating. Haven’t you read The Secret? You really should.
PRINCIPAL: I suppose I Could.
I flounced out of his office and went straight to the bank to secure a loan. When the teller went to shake my hand, I pointed out that he might want to deal with his attachment issues.
FIRST AMERICAN NATIONAL UNIVERSAL WORLDLY BANK
ME: Let me start out by clearly setting my intentions. I am here to borrow money. Dollar signs have also been placed on my vision board.
TELLER: Your what board? Never mind. So you say you’d like some extra cash for Home Improvement? Can you be more specific?
ME: Boundaries, please! Let’s just say I’ve given up on Self-Improvement.
TELLER: (odd look) I see. Gosh, Miss Menopause, I’m afraid there’s not much I can do for you today.
ME: You’re in denial!
TELLER: That’s a river in Egypt.
ME: Humor Defense Mechanism! Let’s unpack what’s making you so uncomfortable about this issue, shall we?
TELLER: I am required to ask you certain questions and I’m also accountable for deciding if you’re a good risk. It’s a lot of responsibility for me.
ME: Narcissism! It’s not always about you.
TELLER: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been at such a total loss before, like I am right this very moment.
ME: Reclaim your power!
TELLER: Ok. You’ll either need to respond directly to my questions or immediately leave the premises.
ME: Black & White Thinking!
And with that I raced home to practice my relaxation and meditation. My kids were in for a treat because I challenged myself to see how many times I could (NOT should!) use the word “Mindful,” which was how my yoga instructor told us we should approach life.
SON: What’s for dinner?
ME: Do you think you can go one morning without asking that idiotic question? It’s enough to make me lose my ever-loving Mind-ful!
DAUGHTER: What do you think of my new dance routine? Do you like the music?
ME: please! Do you Mind-ful?? I’m trying to relax right now and that godawful song is blasting!
DAUGHTER: Can you at least tell me what you think of my new outfit?
ME: It’s wintertime. I have a good Mind-ful to let you freeze to death in those skimpy shorts.
SON: Gosh, whadya think is up with Mom today??
ME: Will you both just Mind-ful your own darn business?!!
At that point I gave up completely and wisely switched from meditation to medication. Forget Self-Help. What a difference in my life just a single letter can make!
READERS: Are you, or do you know someone else who is overdosing on Self-Help Stuff? Leave me a comment if this strikes a chord and then God help us all!