It's easier than ever to enter the self help journey. The information highway has allowed for many great self help programs to be available for everyone. Some are free, and others are costly, but I have found 4 ways to self help that, with practice, really work.
To begin with self help, one must have the desire to change. This alone opens the door to self improvement, the desire to change oneself. Yes, this is great, but not enough to actually self help. The key is motivation and action from the motivation. The journey begins, and in the end one discovers that the longest journey one may take is from the head to the heart.
Practice Loving Yourself
Most of the time when we really get down to the core of the problem, we are able to see a mirror of our similarities with the problem. We can see our disturbance, where it is coming from within ourselves. If we are able to stop at this introspection point, we allow ourselves the aha moment to identify our problem with the problem. At this time we may realize our part in the disturbance, and we can begin to forgive ourself and love ourself.
There is one visual I practiced awhile ago, and it helped. Just strip to naked, and stand in front of a mirror. Say I love you to all your body parts, and keep in mind what your body means to you. Is it a temple for a soul? Is it a vehicle that houses your essence? Is it just a physical space waster? Eventually any body fears I had began to lessen, and I am much more aware of taking care of my body, loving it.
Give time for yourself. I don't mean to live in your head, or become narcissistic. I mean, give yourself some daydreaming time- even 5 minutes is helpful. We have been told to write down our dreams and it is a great idea. Love yourself during the dream time, knowing that a dream is a creative piece of you, and can be a tool for loving self. Give time to friends who are optimists, they can refresh you with a positive outlook when you are down on yourself. We all go there, and it's an unpleasant space. When we spend time with friends who have a more positive outlook, we tend to mirror them, and are better able to improve ours.
Entering inner silence doesn't necessarily mean a certain way of breathing, sitting a certain way (like a Buddha), or being thoughtless. No one can go for a minute with no thoughts. It's just not part of our make-up! So, whatever meditation is to you, practice it.
There are self help retreats for meditation practice. There are many self help cd's available for meditation practice. If you need help meditating, it is nice to listen to a cd that walks you through a technique. It quiets your mind chatter, and leads you closer to the inner rest that meditation offers. Of course there are self help books online, too. Sometimes just skimming the online content gets you closer to what you are looking for, and a meditative mind opens up.
Meditation is a lot about letting go. Hanging on to "baggage" really gets in the way of self help. It leads to resentments that can kill us. I do believe that resentments manifest in us physically, that they are cancerous. Meditation helps to dump the repetitive thinking that is negative. It also helps to dump pain causers. Once we are aware of what is causing us pain we can let it go easier via meditation.
Daily meditation practice is a gift to give to yourself. It is self help at a level that is both simple, and loving. Life's many pains and problems can be accepted and then surrendered with the aid of meditation.
You know when you speak with a friend about his/her problem(s), you can't help but get removed from your own. Even hearing about another's woes can change your perception about your own. All of a sudden you are helping find a solution to your friend's dilemma, and voila, your problems are lessened.
Knowledge can be power, so get knowledgeable. Know about world events, even though they are often gloomy, the happier news will be even more inspiring. For instance, the recent Chilean miner drama was indeed scairy, yet hopeful too. The one miner who really came untrapped by going to New York, running a marathon, and sharing his experience on Letterman. That is great news, he is an inspiring survivor (and great Elvis impersonator too). It's kind of like seeing the silver lining amidst the chaos in the world. You can help others by listening to their chaos, and helping them discover solutions.
Self help motivation to help others often comes with physical exercise. How often do you go on a walk/talk with someone needing your help skills? Or rake leaves for a disabled person, or an elderly person who could use the help? I know I was delighted last winter when I arrived home to a shoveled driveway. It was a total surprise, performed by a very young neighbor boy who wanted to try out his new shovel! I am perfectly capable of shoveling my own driveway, and do so every winter, so this was an example of another's helping me out by helping himself too. The fact that I had to find out who did it, and how surprised I was only added to the wonder and joy of this business of helping others out.
Practice Open Mindedness
Begin with transferring your head thoughts to your heart. The path to heart is a journey unto itself. Along the way a gradual transformation happens. Some peace is had! Clarity eventually expresses in thoughts that seemed limited to negative, obsessive joylessness. The narrow minded view awakens to less prejudice, and more acceptance of the fact that others have opinions and ideas too. Become receptive to those differing opinions. It doesn't mean you have to agree, but you can at least agree to disagree.
Add these self help tools to your arsenal, and practice them. They really work!