Self-Help for Dummies

Trouble troubles without prejudice. Since no one is spared, I suppose all appreciate a helping hand and a warm smile. You will perhaps not see whether their troubled times are deep or fanciful, desperate or indulgent. My experience shows that when you least expect kindness to bring you back kindness, it does so with such surprising matter-of-factness, that you wonder why you hadn’t tried venturing on that path those countless other times. Kindness heals both ways, always.

Having said that, I am ready to confess that I need help from myself — that would be a win-win situation, would it not? I be kind to myself, and get kindness right back to me in return. This reminds me of an important lesson my mother tried to teach me. She still does try, but is now experienced enough to not waste her breath on it. She used to tell the little Priya that if she respected her clothes and took care of them, they would provide her respect in return; if her books and notebooks got respect, they’d furnish her with the same and more. Loving advice. But slipped right off of little Priya’s well-shampooed — sometimes very well-oiled — hair. As I prepare myself for producing my own set of memorable advices dished out unsought to my little girl when she is old enough to understand beyond “don’t poke your eye, dunderhead”,Β  I am at loggerheads with the little Priya, who never grew up.

Recently, during a conversation with my father, I secretly revealed to him that I know what ails me. Feeling of inadequacy is a well researched term, and it sounds gravely frivolous enough to my ears. My father, however, gave a very sage response, saying that abundant thought seems to have gone in to come up with such a conclusion, which goes to show that most of my work is already done. All I need to do now is to stop feeling inadequate. Easy for him to say, easy for me to go right back to that last stash of Diwali laddoos. The poor feeling, however, continues to languish — ready to slither out, suddenly serpent-like, and entwine my poor ego until it can no longer breathe.

And that’s what they call a vicious circle.

The idea of walking your own walk without anyone helping you is fast looking absurd and impractical. Maybe those self-help books and videos and guru-talks do the world some good, after all. Maybe it is time to make another confession and say you can’t take another step towards your goal without someone to tell you there is a path ahead, dunderhead.

Or, maybe, you just remember to be kind to yourself, and the rest will follow.




18 thoughts on “Self-Help for Dummies”

  1. I remember the days of feeling utterly inadequate. It wasn’t that I was inadequate in regard to “this” or “that”, it was that “I” was inadequate.

    Those days are gone. If I could pinpoint what happened, I’d write a self-help book, make lots of money, and use it to be kind to people who could use a bit of concrete kindness.

    This is what I know: when I stopped focusing on feelings and started focusing on doing, it began to go away. I know when the change started – when I was plopped into the middle of the Liberia bush and was told to “go find something to do”. I did, and one thing led to another.

    I could blather on, maybe this is the point. Feelings of inadequacy mean that we’re comparing ourselves to something or something – even an idealized self. Stop the comparisons, and the feelings go away. Or so it seems to me.

    1. After reading your comment, I stopped focusing on feelings and started focusing on doing, (and) it began to go away. It needs practice, though. I am not plopped in the middle of the Liberian bush, but I do live in a jungle where I must find someplace I do not do — I just sit.
      It is remarkable how you picked the most pertinent aspect of it all — comparisons. I compare myself with my idealised self, and to magnify the torment, the comparison then leaves the centrifuge and flies off on all directions. Such a mess. But I plan to make a broom with the bush (Liberian or not).
      Thank you, Linda.

  2. I think I can completely relate to what you are saying. But “shoreacres” above has mentioned a valid point, don’t you think? Something to think about. πŸ™‚

    1. It certainly is something to think about, and then practice, Nandini. Have you noticed how the world magically fades when you are behind the camera? Then it is you, your subject and the composition in your mind. How wonderful it’d be, if one was able to focus on similar things otherwise, too — you, your actions, and your reactions. Take a lesson from your excellent companion — photography, and try!

  3. I am always amazed to learn that the people I most admire in this world, are often the people who suffer most from feelings of inadequacy. How can this be? Am I so poor a judge of character and talent? Am I invisible, unimportant, a dunderhead? It must be so. Oh no, now I am feeling inadequate!

    But really, I think the people I tend to admire most are people who take themselves and their craft very seriously. They are perfectionists, unable to settle for what I learned long ago…I’m just a stupid human being, not a God, so I will never be perfect.

    I do hope you can practice being kind to yourself. You don’t have to be perfectly kind, just be more kind than usual and see what happens. πŸ˜‰

    1. I needed a laugh. Thank you.

      I am an untidy, messy, floundering, fumbling woman. No, I am not eulogising my departed perfection, I am telling you just how inadequate you are in judging me, dear friend. Ha, so there. Go and whinge about being an erring human being. Or not.

  4. Well, you’ll nail me to the wall if we duel with words, what shall our weapons be? Let’s see, how would Gandhi handle this? I am pretty certain he’d find some peaceful way for us to agree that you are anything but inadequate. πŸ˜‰

          1. Thanks, my friend. It’s a truce. Today is that crazy Thanksgiving holiday here in the states. It means I, along with most Americans have just over eaten a bunch of food I would not normally eat. Ugh. But I am thankful for good friends, both near and oh so far away. G’nite!

  5. Ah, my dear Priya, Let me chuck a few words in:
    Feelings of inadequacy:
    One feels how one feels – I don’t think a person can change that – mind you, I think a good strategy is to perhaps behave as if that is not how you feel – and one bright day you might find that you have got used to it…
    I just read that back, and I don’t think I quite understand what I have just said… Still, never mind…
    Best wishes from Dulltown UK my dear.

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