Why I’m Not Writing Any More Self-Help Books
Shortly after I released my first book, I got an idea for my second one: a book about self-talk. The title hit me immediately: The Art of Talking to Yourself.
As I began to write this book, however, it changed. I changed. Through the intimate and important conversations I had with myself as well as my life-coaching clients, I realized that no piece of self-help advice could help everyone. And those whom it did help, it would eventually hinder. The people in my life (myself included) kept changing. Our journeys kept changing.
This is how The Art of Talking to Yourself, as it exists now, was born. I realized that if I really wanted to help people then, as opposed to giving them tactics and advice, I would help them help themselves. I would help them become free of the need to always be reading self-help books.
This isn’t about that story. (But if you want to read it, it’s in the Introduction of the book, which is available in this free preview).
This is about another story: something that happened after I finished writing the first draft and started editing.
The Tao Te Ching says, “Do your work, and then step back.” I’ve spent my life being absolutely awful at this very thing. I never knew when to stop talking, when to let go, when to finally leave the party.
This is a bit like how self-help marketing works. They say, “Here are the 10 steps to happiness.” They teach you steps 1 to 9 for free (or a small fee), but if you want step 10, you have to pay for their 3-day breakthrough weekend.
They never know when to stop, mostly because of money.
With The Art of Talking to Yourself, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to help people break free of always seeking answers outside themselves. I especially didn’t want them to seek any more answers from me! I wanted to say everything I thought was important to say, and then step back.
Each time I read and reread my words during editing, I would ask myself, “Is this everything I have to offer? Is this everything I have to say?”
The more I answered, “Yes,” the more I started to feel a gnawing discomfort. If this was, truly, everything I had to say, then, after saying it, I’d have to stop talking, wouldn’t I?
The idea emerged: I had to stop writing these kinds of books.
My first feeling when I got this thought was a deep sense of peace. I felt, firmly, that it was the right thing to do.
My second feeling was terror. After all, self-help was where I had moved in and called home. It was paying the bills. What would I do instead?
Even with all my fears and doubts, I knew I had to make this transition. If I really believed what I was saying in the book—and if I really wanted to help people rather than reaching into their pockets for more, more, more—I would step back. I would do my work, and then step back.
The more I stood up to my fears, the more terror grew into excitement. I started to realize that, although self-help had began to feel like home, it was never meant to be that for me.
I’ve been writing poetry, songs, and stories from a young age. I started to see this transition in a different way: a return to my original passion of writing.
I realized that instead of focusing on helping people, I could focus on making art. And if I hold true to my journey of self-discovery, then my art will naturally help people.
I feel creatively liberated. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry, which will be my creative focus for the foreseeable future. But I am getting flashes of dialogue, images of characters, and melodies of songs. My mind and heart are so open, so full.
And now that The Art of Talking to Yourself is out there in the world, I feel a deep respect for it that I never felt for The Love Mindset. I was fresh into self-help back then, and I wanted to make the book into a program, a retreat, a series of meditations.
I feel differently about this one. I want to read its words out loud and share them with people. I want to put its quotes against pretty photos and have people put those up in their houses. I want the book to exist and shine as itself. I want to honour its words and help them spread.
There will be no breakthrough weekend.
There will be no sequel.
I didn’t know writing it would lead me here, but I’m glad it has. Writing a book about self-awareness has helped me become more aware of myself. I am stunned and humbled by this.
Too many times in my life, I’ve chosen the familiar over the uncertain.
But not this time.
Familiar doesn’t mean useful. Or painless. Had I ignored those feelings, I would have had a hard time. By honouring those feelings, I’ve had a hard time. Everything is hard in its own way.
I don’t choose whether or not life is going to be painful. It is. I just choose whether it’s going to be painful to evolve or painful to resist. The pain isn’t going anywhere.
But you know, I’m glad I’m here. I’m inspired. I’m creating. But more than anything, I’m grateful.