George Carlin has a great monologue on self-help. It’s a little rude, like much of Carlin’s work, and here it is:
Carlin’s basic point, if you don’t want to watch it, is it’s only self-help if you do it yourself. If you use a resource, whether book, person, video, etc., it’s no longer self-help. It’s just help.
I love Carlin’s literalism. He lives the inherent external and internal social contract that we call language. Externally, we agree with others on the meaning of word symbols. That allows interpersonal communication. Internally, we do the same thing. That allows awareness.
The misuse of word symbols, whether intentional or not, creates misunderstanding externally and confusion internally.
Now, think for a minute about spirituality. One dictionary defines my intended context of the word as “… of or pertaining to sacred things or matters; religious; devotional; sacred.” Query: who gets to define spirituality for you? Is it a private matter between you and God, as you conceive Him? Or is spirituality defined for you by your minister, church or some other person or entity?
And, if another gets to define spirituality, what then, is faith? Can you have faith without some independent sense of what is sacred? The answers to these questions are matters for your private devotion, and I shan’t more overtly here insert my personal beliefs.
Query second: if you espouse faith in God, do you let any person, institution or incident dissuade you from your faith? I espouse faith in God through a particular denomination, one of the nominal adherents of which was Theodore “Ted” Bundy, the noted serial rapist/killer. Does Mr. Bundy define my faith, even if his name means “gift of God”? I trow not. I confidently assert, “No!”
What about a well-meaning but under-informed associate? Does his or her bigoted, benighted, unduly limited, and/or under-confident view get to define for me what it means to be a Christian? Of course not. That is between me and Christ, Himself.
What about your life, your mission, your purpose, your destiny? Who defines you, your limits, your mission, your destiny?
This is also a matter for your private meditation and devotions.
What about your goals, your dreams, your search for meaning in your life? Are you going to let some bad example, a misinformed person, your own history of achievement (or lack of same) define what you can or can’t be, do or have?
Now that’s a much harder question for most of us. As infants, children, adolescents and young adults the vast majority of us were offered beliefs, ideas and other programming by our family, teachers, friends and others that invited us to believe in personal limitations well below our actual potential.
If true, what’s next? I believe true answers lie within. Carlin had it right. If I, or anyone else, tells you what to do, that’s not self-help. That’s just help. And, no other person can tell you what your truth is. No other person can know your purpose or your destiny.
What I can tell you is the search for purpose is worth it. When you find it, life gets way easier. I recommend the journey and the search. You needn’t worry about the “how.” Resources and other help will find you as you need them.by