Self-Help: How’s It Working For You?

Arrive by Alice Popkorn

“Arrive” by Alice Popkorn on Flicker Courtesy of PhotoDropper (

Hubby and I got to talking about self-help the other morning and it opened the door to a deeper discussion than originally expected. Thought I’d share my heart feelings with you.

When we’re stuck and things feel out of sorts, a lot of us go to friends/family for answers, seek counsel or look into self-help. At least, that’s the way I thought it worked. It seemed so easy when they’d say pray or just meditate and think positive thoughts.

I looked at how it’s been working for me down through the years and often wondered, “Why is it so easy for them and not so much for me?” Maybe, if I really, really tried . . . hardernope! I’ve never felt more stuck than what I feel right now at this stage of my life. But this time is different and I noticed it after our talk. I’m making it harder this go-around mainly because I’m no longer doing the dance fooling myself into thinking I’ve got it all figured out. This time, I’m finally getting it and it feels good. 

I’ve been stuck before and I have learned. It has taken me further down the path. Problems always worked out and I felt like I’ve changed in the process or so I thought. I didn’t realize how many layers there are to work through until it shows up again and you begin to truly understand your heart. So often, we seem to be going around in circles facing the same issues only with different scenarios. Self-help does really work but only when you take responsibility for stuff in your life and do the work yourself not looking for someone else to do it for you.

“We all sit around in a circle and suppose, while the secret sits in the center and knows.”  ~~ Robert Frost

The key is in taking responsibility for your broken-heart stuff and doing the work however it finds you in your innermost being. You know ― anger, insecurities, fear, grief ― all the answers are there on how to let them go when they’re triggered. Guidance to begin the work will show up, when you ask, and will resonate with you. I’m beginning to see it in my life, when I work on these key things. Funny, how when I look within and surrender what I find, the work becomes effortless.

The issues I’ve struggled with and emotional pain I’ve held onto is leaving. It just doesn’t show up anymore and is no longer there to be triggered. It’s like chopping down a tree ― it seems to take forever. But, once it starts cracking and the weight of the tree takes it tumbling to the ground, you’re done with it. The tree can’t be put back the way it was and you’re forever changed.

What seems to be a life-long mission, in search of something I know to be true on the inside, has somewhat eluded me, mainly because I’ve tried to find it outside in the world. I can remember as far back as a child when I felt a strong presence as my constant companion. I even imagined it as my invisible friend that understood my deepest fears and comforted me when I cried.

When I was little, I didn’t understand why my parents fought, why we were hungry and cold at times, why other kids looked at me weird. I felt their emotions but I was okay, as long as I had my constant companion. It was there when I would steal away upstairs to the attic to play and pretend my world was happy like I thought it was for everyone else.

Or, I felt this presence go with me when I went up to the hill behind my elementary school where you could look out for miles and see the Philadelphia Airport in the distance. There were smoke-stacked refineries, tiny cars going back and forth and airplanes taking off or coming in for a landing. I’d wonder what they were all up to and where they were going. I’d picture myself traveling to far-away places just like them.

This presence never left me. It just got harder to feel and hear as I began to listen more to what I was being taught on the outside. My parents were teaching right from wrong, school was teaching books and learning, peers were bringing out fears and the desire to fit in. It was all jumbled up and I was so confused about the world for most of my childhood. My awareness of constant presence slowly faded in the background as my attention turned to what was calling me on the outside. I left my companion behind for another time as my journey began.

It started in my innocence, as early as preschool, when I felt a need to fix every situation I thought was broken or everyone I felt was hurting. I began with my Mom and Dad. I remember one time when I tried to help, thinking, if it worked it would make them happy again. So, I went to our next-door neighbor’s house, knocked on the door and, when she answered, I asked her to leave my Daddy alone. Well, that idea bombed and ended up with a policeman at our door and my parents in a courthouse served with a restraining order.

So, this little girl retreated and lost the courage to assert herself, fearing the worst in creating more trouble. Courage returned again and again when she made attempts to get her parents to talk with each other. The presence in me wanted to understand why she hurt and felt if she talked it out with them she could find the answers. I wanted to understand why they did what they did and how they felt. It still holds true for me today in how I want to connect with others. I’m interested in how they feel and what they think.

The teachings continued and more lessons were learned. Sunday school taught me about Jesus and love. The principles were similar to the feelings from my imaginary friend but, even then, I would see conflict in the differences of doctrines. So, I went to other churches and looked into other traditional beliefs, some not-so conventional. The closest I came to understanding the feeling I had with my presence companion was with my grandmother and her connection with the realm of spirit. It linked something real from the inside of me with the world outside and began to bridge the two.

Over the years in search of the deep answers, I’ve accumulated a library full of self-help books, tapes, etc. and I can see how I’ve changed because the subject interests vary. I’ve progressed from religious material to New Age and finally to all perspectives, especially when it communicates love. This is huge coming from a little girl who once had a pet peeve about reading.

All the years of reading and listening haven’t been for nothing. I have learned a lot. But, I still longed for the ever-present companion I once knew and loved so long ago as a child. Somehow, I knew it was still there but couldn’t hear it. On occasion, it would come to me in a dream or send me a message in a vision. Or, just the right person would show up as a messenger at a time when I needed it the most.

There’s one thing I noticed about these messengers and what they have in common. It’s an energy that comes through their words. You can feel it, like when a room lights up when a particular person enters and everyone looks in their direction. The energy shifts and you feel drawn to them. If you get a chance to meet them you’ll also notice a glow in their eyes. It’s pure love akin to what I felt from my presence companion and I knew they had experienced the same thing I felt as a child.

I could see their message came from somewhere deep in their soul ― a place where they had spent a lot of time. A genuine, pure energy oozed out of them. They learned how to keep the channel open when they moved from the place on the inside to when they moved to their business on the outside. They learned how to live in this world and not be of it and all the words and teaching can’t do it. It can only point the way to something we have to learn how to do for ourselves.

This is what I was beginning to understand in our morning discussion. The self-help messengers I learned from had bridged both worlds and learned how to bring who they are from the inside to the world outside. I know of that place within myself. I’ve experienced it ― it’s sweet and gentle ― safe, unlike any other. I love being there and, when I’m genuinely there, I don’t want to leave. Only, what I haven’t learned, yet, is how to stay there for very long. I tend to leave it to take care of what’s calling me in my life on the outside instead of bringing it with me.

There are only a handful of people who I’ve noticed know how to do that. They’ve lived it and their pure energy alone drew people to them and lit up the room with their presence. One that comes to mind is Tom Dorrance. He was a gentle soul and a horse whisperer.

What he genuinely loved on the inside were horses. So much so, it could no longer be contained on the inside and had to be expressed on the outside and the horses helped him with it. It was miraculous to see how they responded to his touch as if silently communing with one another. Witnessing this exchange between human and horse was sacred as if being on hallowed ground.

I wrote a post about him and Ray Hunt years ago while struggling with some questions of my own at the time. They were some of the same things that kept showing up. It was called “Hooking Up ― Finding that Connection”.

I keep edging a little closer to those deeper answers as I open up and have the courage to bring forward what I discover from my soul on the inside. It’s coming and I feel my presence companion is back with me again. I am beginning to hear it’s voice and, now, it seems to ask, “What will my verse be”, as in Walt Whitman’s poem “O Me!, O Life!”:

“…that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse”

I think, as we get better blending both places as one, we never leave one for the other. That’s when the room lights up and the energy shifts oozing out from within drawing life on the outside to us. No doubt that’s what the birds and animals felt in St. Francis’s presence centuries ago when he walked upon this earth.

I hope, in the end, my contributing verse will be how to feel and be real in this world and for the words I share to matter helping others along their path.

What about you? What will your verse be?

Pat from ol’ kitchen table

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Acknowledgements: "Arrive" Photo by Alice Popkorn on Fl more...

22 thoughts on “Self-Help: How’s It Working For You?

  1. Pat, Such quality writing, depth, & ideas, you put so many of us to shame. I don’t know where to begin except to say I used Tony Robins recordings many years ago. He helped me interview better to become a principal. And Merry Christmas!!! Phil from

    • You made my day with your kind words. Thank you, Philip. I’ve listened to Tony Robbins, too. He’s right up there along with my favorites: Wayne Dyer, Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra. I even got a chance to meet some of them at a conference where they autographed my books. That’s when I noticed their eyes and their energy. I was taken back by how real they were and their genuineness.

      I’ve only felt that from a handful of people, one being my grandmother. It’s something I strive to feel for myself.

      Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year, my friend. God bless you.

  2. Thank you for this post 🙂

    I had an experience when quite young—in a sweating daze from the flu—a Presence came to me and comforted me…

    It took over 50 years for me to share that experience with another soul…

    It was so Precious…

    So Powerful…

    I now have a Faith that teaches (as most Faiths do) that the life of the body is a mere shadow world—a poor reflection of the Infinite World in which our souls live…

    Yet, God gave us bodies and souls…

    Much to ponder in that………

    • Thank you, Alexander, for sharing. I can relate to the experience you had in how profound and sweet it was. I’m sure, as you remember, there’s nothing like it — so real. There is much to ponder in our lives and how we go through it. All the questions we ask — whys and who. It really is a gift to have these bodies and souls as vehicles to journey and explore. Maybe, someday we’ll get better at getting passed our egos and place our feet on the real paths of the cosmos that take us somewhere.

  3. How to be like that little child again with a ‘friend’ who knows us so well. How truly evocative Pat and biblical. I do believe in human (and otherwise) angels who light up our lives and turn up in times of need … if we are in tune enough to notice them. Sometimes it is just listening to that inner voice. It is so much harder as you get older though isn’t it. I wish you well with your struggles … or letting go of your personal struggles too … and wish you a lovely Christmas Pat. Dianax

    • So true, Diane, how to be like that little child again who knows us so well. Thank you for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed it. There are so many ways, it seems, to arrive at the same place. The journey has been wonderfully interesting, for sure, and I love what I’m discovering. It does sound as if it’s been challenging but I wouldn’t have changed any of it. When you come out on the other side, it’s all worth it and life seems to be more vibrant and delicious.

      Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year. God bless — hugs! 🙂

  4. Pat, well said and beautifully written. My mantra for many years has been to serve as best I can wherever I am called. I have learned to bend to God’s will and that has made my life so much easier. “He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own…” May you continue to find peace and blessings on your path. Bev YSIS

    • Thank you Bev. That’s a good mantra to have. It’s been a journey, for sure, of bending and stretching but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. So much rings true in what you said, “He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own.” I remember singing that in Sunday school and feeling a happy heart. It feels happy now just like it used to and I’m better at walking and talking with Him. God bless, my friend, and will see you on the path. Hugs YSIS

  5. Pat, I can’t imagine how hurt you felt to confront your neighbor, and then to have it backfire so horribly I can see why you closed your self off. I did my share of self-help books and learned a bit here and there but it wasn’t until I got rid of the self-help books and took on my own feelings in my own way that I began to heal. The anger I had bottled up inside was more than I even knew I had until I peeled back the layers.

    • Thank you, Lois, for the warm sentiments and glad you can understand. I’m thankful there are so many resources available to help than what used to be. We have to come to that understanding ourselves of what feels right and what we need to do. Sometimes, it’s like you said in just getting rid of all the self-help books and “getting down to brass tacks”.

      Whatever it takes, the Source is there to guide us. For me, it’s been gentle in bringing me out peeling back one layer at a time. I’m glad to hear you found the key in letting go of the anger and what was bottled up inside. With that pressure released, sure makes life so much sweeter.

      Truly appreciated your sharing. It’s not always easy to put those things out there. When we can, we realize they’re no longer there. God bless and wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Hugs! 🙂

  6. Dear Pat, I just wanted to read your post before I sign off. I’m overwhelmed at the moment with all I need to do and finding the stress a bit much. I can relate to so much of what you share so powerfully and beautifully here, particularly the part where you felt so shut down after you tried to help your parents by going over to your neighbour. I took on way too much responsibility when I was young for both my parents but when I tried to assert myself I was crushed and it took me years to fight back, still am really in many ways. I was always aware of a ‘presence’ in my life and came to understand that better through prayer as a Christian when in my 20s even though I wasn’t raised in a church going family. Your verse is beautiful, your heart is beautiful. You do help others so much, and encourage and bless with the beauty of your message and by sharing your heart and soul here my dear friend. I am so glad that we are on this journey together and that I met you here. God bless you Pat and wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings, joy and peace…here’s to walking that path together 🙂

    • Thank you, Sherri. I’m glad to see you stopped by, especially with how busy it is at this time of year. It makes me feel good that you understand and can relate to what I wrote. I think there are a lot of us that have had challenges in our childhood and still many little ones today are feeling their way through trying to make sense of it all.

      It can present hard choices, at an early age, on which path to take that can affect us for the rest of our lives. Thankfully, I believe we’re not lost and left alone whether it’s with a presence companion, like I had, or somebody with a tender heart placed in our life at the perfect moment.

      It looks like this is what you had in your life, too, a presence that gave you guidance over the years. I wasn’t like you in that I did have church — a lot of it — and it was confusing to me, as a little kid, in what I felt and saw. The messages were loving but they weren’t always displayed. I later found out how hard that is to walk the talk in my life.

      You touched my heart when you said i encourage and there’s a beauty in my message when sharing. i can only hope it will matter and reach others to help. It’s nice to not be alone on this journey and I’m glad you’re there. God bless you and yours this Christmas and may your New Year be full of dreams come true. 🙂

      • There is so much we could share here Pat, and I do wish I had the time right now, but with my boys arriving this evening and still so much to do, I need to sign off, but yes, I can understand how you felt very much. I ‘came to faith’ in my twenties when my eldest boy was 18 months old and it profoundly changed my life. None of my children attend church now even though they were brought up in it. But as I said, I could go on…but for now, I know that we have the blessing of God upon us and for that we can be truly grateful as we press on and forward in our lives. And once again, God bless you dear friend, I will see you soon and will try and keep in touch over on Facebook as much as I can. I look forward to much to sharing more of our journey and supporting and helping one another along the way… huge hugs to you… Sherri 🙂 <3 xo

        • I know, Sherri, we could go on forever sharing. I love that we have that special connection that when we come back to visit we can pick up where we left off. It’s the same with me in that none of our children attend church nor hubby, though he was raised traditional Catholic. I tried early on attending church and taking the girls but over time I could feel it wasn’t the direction I was meant to follow. I still hold those Christian beliefs close to my heart but have explored and expanded spiritually in so many other ways. There are so many possibilities when we open up and follow our heart.

          I truly wish you many blessings this Christmas enjoying your family and traditions. God bless and hugs across the pond, my friend. 🙂

  7. W0nderful reading this Pat… everyone else has said so much that another comment seems superfluous … my one thought is that when we finally reach the point where we can hear oneself, and do what feels right for our soul, even if this means shocking and disappointing those closest to us, – it has to be done. -‘ if not now – when – if not me, – who?’
    Oriah writes can’ you disappoint another to be true to yourself, … bear the accusation of betrayal; and not betray your own soul…’
    The most difficult thing on earth, and the reason we came here.
    Loved the Robin Williams clip

    • Thank you, Valerie. I’m glad you came over and enjoyed the reads. It’s so true in what you say about reaching a point where we hear oneself and feel what’s right for us. The courage is acting on it, though it may seem shocking and disappointing to those around us.

      This is my biggest challenge and I’m getting better at it. Encouraging feedback like yours and the inspiring words from Oriah and the Robin Williams’ clip on “what will your verse be” all go a long way in keeping me on my path and being true to myself.

I would love to hear from you. . .thank you for stopping by.

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