The self help universe is filled with thousands of books and millions of people all looking for that piece of information that can change everything. I know, as I was part of it. I thought that if I kept reading that I would have a moment of enlightenment when something changed inside me. Every now and then I would have one and it would feel like things were going to be different but then it would pass and it would go back to the way it was before.

I then started going to lots of different types of training; NLP, Hypnosis and other disciplines; all with the underlying purpose of helping me to live a better life. My intentions were good but my focus was all wrong.

If you have ever had anxious feelings or felt inferior, have you ever noticed how selfish you were?

I have spoken many times about the social anxiety and panic attacks that I lived through for many years. My world was very small: I asked questions and said things to myself constantly like this: “What do they think of me?” “What if I look stupid?” “I not good enough?” ” Why am I so pathetic?” “I can’t bear this feeling” “I have to get out of here”.

I saw the world through the eyes of a victim and became the most important person in the world to me (even though I felt like the most insignificant). It didn’t matter what anyone else wanted or needed, it was all about how I felt and what I couldn’t do. Going to my best friend’s wedding was excruciating, celebrating someone’s birthday was a chore, saying goodbye to a colleague at a going away do was a painful inconvenience; the list goes on.

Even when I really cared about the person, every time they asked me to do something that I wasn’t used to, I hated it. I went into immediate panic mode and tried to think of a way out. I wasn’t thinking about what they wanted, only what I was going to have to do and how horrible it was for me.

I wanted to help myself so that I could help my dad who had Parkinson’s and my mum who was his main carer; just like when you are on a plane and the flight attendant tells you that in case of an emergency you put your own oxygen mask on first before you put one on your child.

It makes sense; how can you be there for others when you feel broken inside?

Although it makes sense, that thinking is very flawed. I seemed to make great progress and overcame many of my fears; I started being able to do more in life which enabled me to be there for those I loved but, it also held me back massively and meant that my focus remained on me first and them second. I wasn’t aware of this at the time, but looking back I can see that I helped them better the more I helped myself and worse during those times when things felt harder for me; when I wasn’t so resilient. My anxieties, my stress, my problems all took up huge space in my head and left little room for other people.

Outwardly I was doing many things different and seemed to be there for them but inside the structure of my thinking was the same and although I was there in body, in my mind I was still often checked out.

If you are trying to change things with a focus on “self help” you are just playing with yourself.

You are are doing things to make yourself feel good and it will always leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled.

So, what is the alternative?

Let’s jump ahead to the end of the story; one day you will die, we all will. Whatever your belief in what happens next, when you are at the end and looking back at your life will you be proud of having spent so much time helping yourself? What will be etched on your gravestone: “Here lies Sarah, she really loved herself” “In remembrance of John, he helped himself more than anyone ever has before him”

I am saying that with my tongue firmly in my cheek, but you get the idea.

I am saying all of this because I have been that guy, helping myself to overcome the things that seemed so important to me at the time. I wish I had known at the start that the best way to sort out my own stuff was to think about someone else instead.

The single best thing you can do is to help another human being. It could be someone close to you or a stranger you meet in the street; if you focus on that person, on what he needs, and you find a way to make even a tiny difference in his life, that will start to fill you up inside. The more people you help, the more you will become fulfilled and live a life of meaning.

If one of your fears comes up that usually stops you but instead you decide to go through that fear to help someone else, not only will you change your focus (which alters that feeling), but you will teach yourself to do what really matters to you and the more you do it the more you will change and the easier it will become.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t work on yourself to become the best version of you that you can be; that is important and worthwhile; I am saying do it with a deeper purpose of the contribution you want to make in life so you redirect your orientation and your focus.

If you do this, you will not only move past anything that holds you back, but you will do it so much faster and more powerfully than you could ever do by thinking of only yourself.

So, are you going to stop masturbating?

Comment below, or contact me directly, because I’d love to know what you have taken from this.

With Passion and Purpose