Hi. My name is Crystal. And I’m a self-help slut. Actually, the correct phrasing is ‘I’m a fucking self-help slut’ as inspired by Paolo Sambrano. His words, not mine. He also talks a bit about mindfulness, a word I really hate, even though it’s terribly accurate. Anyway, hi, nice to meet you. Let me tell you a bit about self-help-slut-shaming.

“How is it self-help if you have to get it from somebody else? I mean, if you’re reading  a book somebody wrote, then technically, you’re not helping yourself. Technically, they’re helping you.”

“I think all self-help writers are con-artists. They pretend to have answers to questions that everybody asks. I mean, Danielle Steele writes best-selling love stories and she has seven ex-husbands!”

“I don’t read self-help because it’s really just common sense. Why buy a book to read things that are obvious? Si you live life and discover it yourself?”

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those self-help people? Surely! Well, I like the person you are, so if reading self-help helped you become that person, then I guess I can put up with it. But it’s still stupid.”

Wise comments from people I hold dear to me – who are all extremely anti-self-help. Me, I see it more as research. I get curious about something. iGoogle the topic. I read an article. I find a self-help title that’s related. iGoogle some more. I torrent. If I can’t find it on torrent, I buy. Mostly on Amazon.

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I guess maybe it’s just how I’m wired. My therapist says I have a questioning core and that I’m always trying to fix things. And since I love words and am fairly self-reliant, I fix a lot of things by reading books. When I had my first boyfriend and was having trouble orgasming, I read The Act of Marriage.

When I had a secret crush and wanted to see if I had the slightest chance, I read 6 signs a guy likes you. When I was taking Psych 101 and trying to use juju science to get a different boy’s attention, I read Why we act the way we do. When I was questioning religion, aliens, and sexuality, I read Conversations with God.

When I was trying to suceed as a freelancer, I read The Science of Getting Rich and the one about the cheese. I even went through phases with The Secret and Manifesting things. Turns out a sure way to get rich is to write a self-help book about, well, getting rich. Weight loss and relationship books sell well too.

I don’t remember much about these books except that I’ve read them, and I still have a lot of them lying around my house. They’re generally quite hard to read, because you have to stop after every sentence to absorb what’s being said. They use the word ‘you’ a lot, often in bold or italics. It gets a bit disorienting. Also, meditation.

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I like reading these books though. I know that what they say is common knowldege to some people. Maybe even most people. But I do learn a lot from these books. I suppose it’s because I’m a hermit-prone introvert, so I don’t enjoy talking to people. I’d rather read a book that transcribes their conversations.

I suppose that for the average person, if they have a questions about parenting, they’ll ask their parents. Or if they’re curious about banking, they’ll walk into a bank. Me, my first port of call is the internet, a torrent site, and PDF book, though lately I take Mobi. It’s easier to read on my Kindle.

So … what am I reading right now? The Noticer. It’s about an ageless old man named Jones Garcia, who may or may not be a racially ambiguous angel. In my mind, he looks like Kwai Chang Caine, but with jeans and a blue bandanna. He walks around town giving people advice and changing their perspective on life.

The Noticer is easier to read than other self-help books, because it’s written like a story. As you read, you’re watching people interact rather than hearing catch phrases and mantras. I admit I was suspicious at first, because the author’s name is Andy Andrews – typical self-help name. And he gives motivational talks, which is disturbing as well. But I’m liking the book so far, even if it does give ‘public knowledge’ that I may not possess. Common sense isn’t common, after all.

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This book kind of reminds me of how Paulo Coelho writes. He puts down deep, philosophical, esoteric, and sometimes biographical information, but he puts it in the form of a story. While you’re enjoying the narrative, you’re also learning things. For me, Paulo’s books reach beyond entertainment and settle deep inside my heart. I end up cherishing his words, even in the books I don’t like. I want to write like that.

I’ve often been accused of being too open with my life, of being exhibitionist, sometimes even sensationalist. I don’t always see it that way, but there is some truth there. I’ve found as I get older that certain things are best kept to myself, because even though sharing them could do a world of good, they could also affect my baby.

For example, speaking about abortion or feminism or depression might help other people, but it might also put my daughter as risk as people ask her questions that she doesn’t need to deal with. I can’t even begin to imagine how I’d respond if a classmate walked up to me and said, ‘I heard your mom did xyz. It’s on the internet.’ Like teenagers don’t have enough problems already.

I suppose a clever workaround would be to pull a Paulo or do like Andrews does, make it into a story. Most readers assume that leading men/women are biographical either way, so why not tap into it? #ProjectBreakMy(Fiction)WritersBlock…

♫ Wrecking ball ♫ Miley Cyrus ♫

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