For years now, self-help has been one of the fastest growing industries around the world. There are countless books, magazines, blogs, courses, retreats and infinite number of Facebook and Instagram posts telling us how to love ourselves, be skinnier, live a more productive, healthier, happier and fulfilling life. A birth, parenting, nutrition, fitness, career, relationship, conflict, divorce and death coaches are just a click away. And then, there are life coaches – people who can teach us how to figure out this thing called ‘life.’ In my non-scientific survey, ‘Five Steps to (fill in the blank)’ are among the most popular names for a blog post. Let us not forget ‘traditional’ therapists who are happy to spend time with us, analyzing every facet of our existence.
I offer coaching services as well. I too have offered life advice set in the foreground of flowing water, rocks and mountain peaks, accompanied by appropriate hashtags to garner more ‘likes’. Many people I love dearly are amazing coaches and teachers who do important and deeply transformative work. Yet, I wonder if inadvertently we are contributing to the collective unconscious, while sincerely trying to help.
I believe it is important to ask where the need for ‘self-help’; for coaching; for therapy arises from. Is it a product of our collective self-hatred; of the idea that we need to be ‘fixed’ to be loved? Is it arising from our drive for perfection – an addiction to constantly doing something about our perceived flaws? Is it an attempted escape from our deep collective pain?
On the other side of the equation, for coaches and other helping professionals, isn’t it a bit of an ego trip? Doesn’t it feel good to know that we’ve figured something out; that we have followers and students? Isn’t validating that someone is willing to pay us for our advice or at least to click ‘like’?
We live in an amazing age – all sorts of tools, teachers, guides and advice is easily available to us. And, just about anyone can easily offer her/his wisdom in whatever discipline. This is wonderful, I believe, as long we begin with asking the question ‘why?’. Why are we seeking advice? And, why are we offering it?
If we begin with the idea that something is wrong – with us; the world; and with other people; and that someone can and needs to offer a fix, we are on a very violent path, regardless of how many Buddha images adorn our Instagram feed. This is a violent path because inherent to it is the idea of separation – of ‘us and them’, ‘us vs. them’ and ‘world vs. us.’
If, however, for even a moment we can tune in and realize that we are indivisible waves of the ocean of intelligence that is this Universe; that nothing is wrong; nothing needs to be fixed; that we don’t need anyone or anything; and that we cannot ever understand life, but can only experience it; then we can expand and grow. Coaches, teachers and guides of all stripes can then give up ‘helping’ and ‘fixing’ and instead can serve to give fully to life. And then, relationships between students and teachers (regardless of their title) become sacred connections of service, growth and infinite expansion.
Meanwhile, did I mention that I offer coaching services? You can also see inspiring sayings and pretty pictures on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds. However, I am not able to help anyone. I would like to serve.