“I wasn’t just going to read self-help. I was going to DO self-help.”Help Me! By Marianne Power
I think someone told me about this book, perhaps Susannah, and it sounded really fun so I bought it.
Marianne, a freelance journalist and self help junkie, who experiences a myriad of problems in her life ranging from finance to dating to body image, decides to live her life according to self-help book rules.
One self help book a month, ranging from The Secret to Fuck It to The Power of Now. And Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown, which I haven’t read but dislike for some reason so I should really at least try. ANYWAY.
So far, hundred percent on board.
Kookiness Scale (1-10)
Well, we’re dealing with a hybrid Irish-English journalist so any woo-woo self-help, Universe talk and spiritual nonsense is combatted with her funny wit, her occasional cynicism. Some topics are kooky (the Secret, Money: A Love Story), so a 3-4.
Marianne leaves room for all the woo-woo self-help has to offer, but her book never reads as way out there or loopy. Marianne tries the philosophies from different selfhelp books, that’ all.
My Favourite Quotes from Help Me! by Marianne Power
From the chapter about Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway
- “Psychologists say that there are two sources to all our fears. The first involves physical safety […]. The second source of fear is of social isolation, which is why we are so scared of looking stupid in front of people or being rejected.”
- “I was capable of way more than I’d realised. From karaoke I’d learned that life is much more fun if you just lighten up.”
- “I was surprised what a rush of confidence you can get just from doing the little things that you normally avoid. It was the opposite sensation to energy sapping.”
From the chapter about The Secret
- “Rhonda Byrne clearly uncovered the secret to getting rich.” (LOL)
- “‘Rhonda says our dreams only come true if we really believe– and if they don’t come true it’s because I don’t believe.’ ‘That’s convenient,’ said Mum.”
- “Was it inspired action or the law of attraction? Or was it old-fashioned hard work?”
From the chapter about Rejection Therapy, Take Two
- “Self help might be self-indulgent and ridiculous, but how was opting out and slowing out any better? I didn’t want a life full of regret and lack. I wanted to live to my potential. Whatever that was.”
- “I had colleagues who had done great things, not because they were better than me but because they knocked on doors and hustled.”
From the chapter about F**ck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way
- “John explained that F**k It doesn’t mean doing nothing, it just means not caring so much about the outcome. You can go for the sweet (or the job, or the man, or the house) but you do it with a relaxed attitude and accept that what will be will be.”
- “On the third day we learned how pretending to like things you don’t make you feel sick and tired.”
From the chapter about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- “The dangerous expectation that can be created by self-help books is that if you’re not walking around like a cross between Mary Poppins, Buddha and Jesus every day, you’re doing it wrong. You must try harder.”
From the other chapters (PLOT TWIST)
- “My self indulgence had grown with my self-help consumption. I started to see how self-help can be dangerous from someone like me.”
- “Kate Northrup? The money guru? Do you know how she got into debt? By doing too many personal development courses. Seriously. She wrote a self help book on how to get out of the debt created by self-help.”
- “The Secret didn’t help me; I helped myself.”
Self Help Hipster Stamp of Approval?
Let me start by saying that I LOVE it when writers do stuff like this: actually trying things and then writing about them. I also love it when they aren’t afraid to criticise self help, the philosophies of self help books and the incessant need we have to improve ourselves. We SHOULD criticise these things, think critically and challenge certain aspects of a culture, a movement or an industry. So yay for all that.
But what made me super sad, is Marianne’s TERRIBLE self-esteem. As I was reading this book where Marianne talks about her relationship with her weight, her appearance, with dating and it just made me SO SAD.
And what made me even sadder, is how Marianne really was looking for THE solution in these self-help books and courses. She writes about looking for happiness, a healthy relationship, succes and good choices in these books where these books will never be anything more than tools or motivators, not the be-all-and-end-all.
I don’t want to sound like a self help apologist or an obnoxious person, but I (luckily) could not relate. As much as I love self-help and believe in it, it has been a long time since I thought so poorly of myself (and time and positive experiences fixed that, not books) or looked for a Holy Grail solution in a self help book.
Self-help can truly help, but it requires a strong sense of self, a course of action and ability to stay grounded firmly into your own life. Plus, I think it should be FUN! And an add-on of health and happiness, not the band-aid or the cure to serious shit!
And so it made me sad to realize people can go into this really looking for an easy fix or a complete transformation, but it was good for me to read about that too.
Final Thoughts on Help Me! by Marianne Power
“In this way, the self help did help – a lot. It, ironically, helped me get past myself. Be honest. Be kind. See the funny side. Exercise. Laugh. Lighten up. Have the difficult conversations and do the difficult jobs.”
In the end it’s about this: Do something. Do something and go beyond yourself.
And it is a fun read, Marianne is a funny and witty writer. Give it a try! The Dutch version of this book has JUST come out, and you can buy it here*, and the English version you can buy here*! The English version is the original, e-book version and cheaper, so go for that one.
*Affiliate links, so if you buy the book through here, I’ll get a small fee.