The other day I had this question posed:
‘Do you think Self-help or Personal/Spiritual Development books help or hinder spiritual growth?”
Good question. I actually ask myself that a lot, especially as someone who wrote one herself. Today, I have reflected on it, because for the past 2 years I have really second-guessed my decision to write one. This question came up in an online course I am taking. We are looking at our emotional, mental and soul gifts/challenges and are in a space of self-inquiry. To that end, I posed these questions to myself.
Who am I to have written a book about spirituality?
I wrote my own book for lots of reasons, mostly importantly being that it was as a part of my own healing journey to overcome my childhood sexual abuse. My spiritual path was quite solitary and in the early years of it I read loads of self-help books. But being a writer is in my heart, and I found that writing out my experience was incredibly cathartic. My spiritual path helps me heal my sexual abuse wounds. It was finding this way of healing myself that actually gave me results and it gave me this amazing connection to the universe…bit of a win win really. I am the kind of person who also likes to expand knowledge, to research and am actually quite sceptical about lots of things. The problem for me was, either I was spiritual/intuitive/empathic…or I was plain ol’ crazy. Reading spiritual development books definitely helped me. I am now incredibly grateful for the years of reading and practicing meditation as it has given me the mental tools and the emotional maturity to ‘tune in’ to my spiritual gifts ‘on demand’ now.
So, to that question, I am me, someone who had some experiences that lead to lots of Who, What, Why questions and I am someone who found a few answers that worked for her.
But, who gives a shit about me, my life, what I did and what happened to me?
Probably not that many people, but when you feel deep suffering, and find a way to minimise, stop , or at the very least understand it better, it almost feels selfish not to want to help. (I’ll still find ways to sabotage myself, believe me, fear of criticism or from not truly believing in myself. I can create all kinds of reasons not to put myself out there.) Eventually though, I began realise just how much knowledge I had gained, how it could inspire other people and because when you discover the amazing spiritual gifts we have inside, you really do feel like you should share them and help other people. Plus, people love stories…so sharing our stories provides us with a sense of connection to others…we feel a little less alone.
BUT, in response to the idea behind main question, I get it, and I agree with it to a certain extent too. Too much information is conflicting and confusing and stops us from trusting ourselves.
Who am I to have had these extraordinary spiritual experiences?
What is the purpose of this?
What does it all mean?
My spiritual development/personal development journey started with a tarot reading, that lead me to an out of body experience and on to a spontaneous spiritual awakening. In the story of my life those things started fairly spontaneously, due to my own soul’s journey. In the beginning of it all, I sought out loads of self-help books…because although those experiences I had gave me that “Holy Cow there is more to this universe thing!” I needed to understand more.
I was driven to try to make sense of it. Sometimes I would find people to talk to about the deep questions, but often I was left to ponder alone, so books were a place to find other people asking these same questions. The world is so different now though…we can find so many connections and other like minds online. But when my world started to shift away from what I had known, to something else entirely, it was books that I turned to. I am just a girl on an awakening journey.
Who I am to already know all of this stuff?
The spiritual journey is about self empowerment, but how do I Know who my ‘real self’ is?
Does it truly resonate or is it just wishful thinking?
There were some books that I read that absolutely helped. They confirmed the things I was already feeling and showed me ways to understand or to engage in a spiritual practice. They lead me to the path of meditation. Books showed me that other people had experienced what I had experienced. It was actually a huge relief. Plus, those people had already done some hard work and come up answers, practices and processes, so I didn’t have to work it all out myself.
The wishful thinking thing though always remains a big question…am I intuiting information myself, or am I just believing what I have read. Was it possible to truly believe I could also access this very same knowledge through my own insight? It is a big deal and it remains a really important point to ponder. Learning to trust ourselves and believe in ourselves fully is crucial to growth, but pretty difficult for a lot of us.
In the past few years though, I have realised that it is actually true…I am intuiting and channelling wisdom and guidance…just like those other smarty pants self help dudes!
How can I know that what I am experiencing is true?
When you seek truth, how do you really know what you experience is real, or at least it is real for you?
My biggest understanding about all this, is that the books that really helped me were the ones that guided me to look inside myself. The books that gave those ‘aha’ moments about being a spiritual being having the human experience, taking that perspective and finding ways to incorporate that understanding into my healing. They were inspiring.
In my journey, I travelled in to my inner world through meditation as it provided me with the tool I needed. It is where I learned to experience the universe inside of me. They showed me ways to recognise how my ego/mind works, to feel my body’s energy and then how to connect it to the greater reality of the world around me. So when it comes to self help books, the most important thing is to actually do the emotional work they are probably telling you to do. Sometimes it might take reading that piece of advice a lot before you make the decision to do it.
How do I stay connected to my authentic true source power?
I think that although connecting to our deep well of spiritual power, to source, to love energy is so incredibly amazing (that’s why we keep doing it!) it is bloody hard to work getting there. Then we are constantly maintaining the ability to return to it. It really does get easier over time, with healing and consistency; but the spiritual journey can be hard. If you are always struggling, or forgetting your why, or are not surrounded by a great support network that are able to constantly help you, then books are able to inspire you, or teach you something new, perhaps just when you need it.
So, when it comes to self-help, personal or spiritual development, I believe there will be lots of different paths for lots of different types of people. I try to take the bits that make sense to me from wherever I find them, and leave the rest alone.
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