Spiritual Selfies: The Problem with the “Self” in “Self-Help”

July 11th, 2016
Spiritual Selfies: The Problem with the “Self” in “Self-Help”


Millions of people are looking to become less dependent on our learned and unconscious patterns. We want to be free of the pain that has resulted from our conditioned belief systems. We want better health and more autonomy, and we often seek abundance and joy through self-employment. But for most, this is not working to our desired degree because we’ve misinterpreted a key factor.


“I’ve got this!”

Self-help books and CDs have empowered many people to go within themselves to connect with Spirit for information and healing. While there is tremendous benefit from going inward, the unfortunate truth is that many people misinterpret the movement and become too self-reliant.

Inward focus is not the only way we learn and grow. We need information, validation, mirroring, support and guidance from other people, too. “No one is an island.” Without external feedback, it’s too easy to fall back into old patterns.

The mind likes to convince us, “I’ve got this” before we really do. Sadly, the lack of progress becomes an invitation to disappointment and self-criticism. We then turn to more books, or weekend workshops that don’t go deep enough or lack the necessary consistency, turning the “Monday morning highs” in just a few days into the “Friday night blues.”


The Inevitable Frustration

A number of us get so frustrated with our lack of progress that it becomes easier to escape into our own worlds. Further encouraging our isolation, hand held devices create a space where we can control everything we see and hear—even while in a highly crowded space. Options abound to distract us away from what’s in need of attention. And Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) often take it to the next level by isolating from those who are even slightly energetically toxic.

While the mind will convince you that this physical separation from others is beneficial, the drawback is that without personal connections, we miss out on the opportunities for deeper levels of self-awareness and healing that happens when we are seen, heard, and loved unconditionally. When held in that safe space, we’re more able to feel the support that’s crucial for deeper healing work. On our own, we’re too often distracted by the fear (even if it’s unconscious) that says, “If I feel my sadness too deeply, I’ll get stuck there” or by self-criticism that says, “If I acknowledge my anger, I’m a bad person.”


a)    the way out is the way through,

b)   everyone has sadness—repression only cause more blockages, and

c)    anger in and of itself isn’t bad—it’s more what we do with it that matters most. 


The Illusion

 If we buy into the illusion that the perceived safety achieved through separation outweighs the stress of being interactive with others, we’ll isolate more than connect—and true connection is what we really want to experience!

When we use this physical separation to go inward and/or work on our intuition, we often don’t realize that our self-readings—muscle testing and dowsing included—can be affected by the mind’s desires and our own emotional state (more on that in another blog). I have met many who began getting confirmation of one of the premises of self-help that the ego latches onto. I call this the “Spiritual Selfie.” It’s the safer and less challenging route that says, “I can do this alone; I don’t need other humans to help me.”

Messages from well-intentioned self-help authors (for example, those who say, “I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know”) can reinforce the premise that autonomy is the goal. However, with no one else nearby to see that which we cannot, we start believing our own versions of reality.

Books can be a powerful starting point, and for some a wonderful journey and endpoint, as well. But for most of us at our present level of consciousness, we need the verbal, emotional and energetic transmission that can only be present with a heart-to-heart connection to help access and integrate the information.

Of course, a high-quality book could excite the reader to make a change and hopefully gives the reader steps to do so. But for many of us, it’s like trying to ride a bike by reading about how to ride a bike. You’ve got to get on one to learn to ride. Even if you fall a few times, muscle memory builds and eventually riding is an unconscious behavior. In a similar way, working with caring and knowledgeable practitioners can quicken your path by guiding you through the process—pitfalls and all. Personalized guidance makes doing the really deep transformational work easier to accomplish.

A more tangible example is doing yoga in a class as opposed to at home. A good teacher will help you get the most from each posture and each step in-between. You’re not going to get that necessary feedback at home.

Too often we forget that our greatest challenges—and ironically our greatest joys—come from being engaged with others. Other people can remind us of what we need to work on to grow. And those who have healed after walking the proverbial “mile in our shoes” can be an unparalleled asset.


Great at Helping Others but Not Yourself?

In the self-help, new-age world, I’ve spoken to so many healers who can do amazing work on others, but not on themselves. Self included! By holding sacred space for my clients I’ve seen my clients access deeper layers of personal truth. Without the 4-legged mirror, it’s difficult at best to access this part of us.  

It’s important to note that:

1) This difficulty isn’t due to lack of spiritual prowess or in any way a commentary on intelligence, we are often overloaded beyond the point where we can be our best health advocate. Emotional overwhelm and physical pain cloud our intuition. And Highly Sensitive Persons carry not only their own blockages but those of others, as well.

2) If this is you, know you’re not alone in the inability to self-read or self-heal; I too have difficulty following my own steps without someone holding space for me! And I’ve found this to be true with a majority of my clients, as well.

I’ve had world-class medical intuitives ask me for readings. I’ve spoken with countless numbers of people who can channel powerful healing energy for others, can receive spiritual guidance for others, and yet can’t get readings or do deep (enough) healing work on themselves. Some say that when safe space is being held, the recipient can go on average 11 times deeper into their own experience! And you still want to go at it alone!?!?!


“The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!”

~The Elders Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation 


By doing our own readings and healings, we lose the benefit of a clear friend or practitioner who can very likely see the very things we don’t want to see. On our own it is extremely rare to be able to consistently access higher knowledge that is unbiased, and nearly impossible to do so from a state of fear, guilt, shame, stress, etc. While many believe they can get accurate readings for themselves, I invite all of them to deeply look at their goals and ask if they’re really any closer to achieving them. The ego is winning, and because it knows every weakness we have, we cannot defeat it on our own. In fact, I think a better goal would be to integrate the ego rather than try to defeat it. In the words of Dr John Demartini, “I’ve met the authors of the books on defeating the ego and they’re all miserable.”

Here is where we need to exchange the idealized goal of independence for the more practical, more fun, and by far more effective goal of interdependence.


Your Ego Will Hate This

At our present state of consciousness, most of us cannot thrive or heal on our own. We need guidance. We need help. We need to understand the process better. We need to surrender.

Surrender doesn’t mean to give up the quest, but rather to give up the need to control every step of the process and the outcome. And whether that surrender is to a trusted friend, a higher power, a practitioner, or a higher power channeled through a practitioner, is irrelevant. It’s only our own minds that keep us fighting the same battles over and over, only to find ourselves back at square one again with some kind of belief that if only we could read enough books or attend enough workshops, everything will get better.

On the contrary, everything will not only get better, perhaps it’ll be amazing if we reach out for guidance and can then surrender our ideas of how things are supposed to go, look, or feel. As my Kabbalah teacher pointed out, we all have blinders on and we benefit greatly from hearing what others see in us.

People are still needlessly suffering. Despite current propagated beliefs, I believe we’ve got a long way to go in our evolution. The sooner we acknowledge this need for interdependence, where we all work together for both the individual and the common good, the quicker and deeper we can all go.

Interdependence is the awareness that others can be great healing gifts for us. Whether they confirm our reality, challenge us to broaden our perspective, or intuit higher awareness that we cannot see, the value of a trusted friend, practitioner, or higher power cannot be underestimated.


If the Universe wanted us to go it alone, there would be 7 billion planets; one per person.”

—Unknown Author


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Disclaimer: The author of this article does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for physical, emotional, or medical problems. The intent of the author is only to offer information of a general nature to help you in your quest for emotional and spiritual well-being. In the event you use any of the information in this article for yourself, which is your constitutional right, the author and the publisher assume no responsibility for your actions.