A few decades ago, someone made a comment to me that dramatically changed my approach to an area in my life. It’s funny how that can happen … maybe you’ve experienced something similar.
Let me take you back to the 90s.
I’m sitting in the lunchroom at work reading what has often been described as a ‘self help’ book. I’m a voracious reader who takes any chance I can to consume a few more pages of whatever I’m reading. A supervisor walks in and, noticing the title of my book, remarks “Ah, another pop psychology book”. I recoil slightly before turning away.
It seemed to my younger, less confident self, that the tone of his voice and body language was screaming “it’s not ok to read such books” and/or “there’s something wrong with you”. That could have been what he was saying although it’s interesting that it was the conclusion I drew and that his opinion seemed to carry weight for me.
Luckily for me, the urge to read this genre was so strong that I didn’t stop consuming such books. What I did was take my habit underground. For a very long time afterwards, I actually hid my personal development books from the sight of others. I started storing them in my bedside drawers rather than in the openly displayed bookcase and would read them away from the eyes of others.
Reading the works of authors such as Susan Jeffers, Thomas Harris, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Vicktor Frankl, and later Mel Robbins, has opened my mind, helped me to understand myself and/or others better, given me hope and provided strategies that have improved my experience of life. I cannot imagine ever giving up reading for my personal (and professional) growth and thankfully I can no longer imagine myself being influenced by the opinion of others about what I choose to read.
The way I see it is that investing in ourselves, being open to possibilities, learning from others, and expanding our potential, can increase the likelihood of us living the most fulfilling life while we’re on this journey. I do suggest taking what resonates for you and not relying solely on this approach for enhancing life.
While there will still be times in our life when we would benefit from therapy or other kinds of intervention to support us through a challenge, there has been many a personal growth book that has led to a shift in my mindset and/or wellbeing.
Recently, I came across the term “human potential” in relation to a book and I have now decided to apply that term to personal growth literature – for me, that’s what it’s all about.
Whether you’ve also been judged for reading human potential books, or you’ve sometimes been the judge, let’s all be kind and accept that there are lots of different pathways to growth and fulfilment.
Sending love and good vibes for your path.
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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.