If you’re reading this you do need help at helping yourself. If you didn’t need help, you wouldn’t be reading it would you? Neverthleless, by reading this you’re reinforcing your own helplessness: you’re turning to someone else for help, when you should be relying on your own inner strength. But this book was here, and it was easier to see what someone else says rather than rely on yourself and battle it through on your own.

If you’ve made it to this second paragraph, you’ve failed again. Once you realized that reading a self-help book was (1) an contradiction, and (2) self-defeating, you should have taken this book straight back to the store and got a refund. Fortunately for me, that won’t work: making a bad choice isn’t enough to get a refund. The item must be faulty. And since my printers did an excellent job, that’s not going to happen.

From what you’ve just read, you should be able to write down the first rule of self-help:

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Well? Are you looking for the answer? Why do you expect that I would provide it? It’s a self-help book. If you answered “help yourself”, partial credit. However, if you read beyond that last sentence, you forfeit that credit. Do you think that’s unfair? It isn’t: you shouldn’t need to check my answer to see if yours was correct; that’s implied in the very phrase “self-help”. You are unhealthily dependent on others for affirmation. And having written down the correct answer, you’ve failed to take your own advice. You’ve continued to read after being told three times – one of which was from your own pen – to help yourself.

Have you read this far? You still seem to think I’m going to provide an answer for you. As well as being too dependent on others and not confident enough to take your own advice, you still don’t understand that you should be working all this out for yourself. I wash my hands of you. You are a prime candidate for a Darwin award. Give the book to someone who needs self-help, then go and play with that octopus with the pretty blue rings.

Are you still reading? If so, you are desperate and deluded: after being insulted and being told multiple times to help yourself, you are continuing to read, labouring under the misapprehension that this book will help you find your own inner sufficiency.

Okay, if you haven’t yet closed the pages of this book and given it to some other schmoe as a practical joke, I’ll throw you another bone. The second rule of self-help:

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What did you answer? Come on, it’s not a thesis: look how short the line is. Even if you wrote “No one else will help me”, you’re still thicker than a whale omelette because you’re still reading, still seeking approval by checking if your answer is correct. Why do you care what I think? Because I wrote a book about self-help, you think I know anything about the topic? That I’m an expert? Not at all; I just know never to underestimate some people’s intelligence and desire for easy answers.

If you’d like to continue with chapter two, “looking inside yourself”, send $10 by credit card: just post the name, number and expiry date on the card on a “comment”. Thank you, you’re a wonderful audience.

copyright Troy Grisgonelle 2008.

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