i'm one of the original self-help junkies. it's me that made depak chopra and wayne dyer rich and famous, while i stayed a pauper.
yes, i devoured titles like 'when helping others is hurting you.' of course, i'd think of the one book that did change my behavior:
ah, so i was trying to make the world safe for myself by controlling others. and how did this come about? my mother used me as a confidant for her troubles. no wonder i became a rescuer of young women. that never worked, certainly, but i schemed, plotted, and tried, when probably all i really wanted was sex. unfortunately, turning every woman into a sister, the sibling-sex prohibition prevented a culminaton of my desires.
what a damned dilemma! therapists and psychics augmented the books. one told me i was a natural hermit. another, that i'd been too impressed by death when young. the psychics declared i'd had too much responsibility in past lives and in this one i was supposed to have fun. hah! so much for that. all this freedom led me to stewing in my own juice.
not that i regret any of it (except not savoring the moment more). i'm amazed i learned to tie my shoes, open a bank account, hold a job. one has to be grateful to one's parents and teachers, after all. otherwise, look at all those citizens hurrying down a city street. they really don't look like they can cope, but they do.
you've been waiting for the real secret. EMBARRASSMENT. never would have guessed that, would you? only being embarrassed by my actions has made me improve. (this is different from shame, which reduces you to a wet noodle.) no, i mean feeling like i goofed and promising myself not to do it again.
for example, unprepared, i gave a speech, which fell flat. i vowed never to do that again! or being a bad guest, as i was in tokyo, and being made aware of it by my host. i've become a much better dish-washer and contributor to the house-hold. or once i slipped into being the old and bitter critic with a young artist, basically saying, 'oh, i've done all that.' she raked me over the coals. it's definitely a pitfall for the aging. if this happens again, i catch myself. as the tao te ching reminds me, 'everyone is enlighted except me. i alone am dark.'
so, hopefully you will be able to turn blushes into pluses, making vows you actually can keep. for this, you need a conscience. that too may have been given to you by those who were close. another reason to be grateful. and, how did i ever learn to drive a car?