What Does "Self Help" Mean?

On the eve of each New Year, people commit to making lifestyle changes that they believe will usher in personal satisfaction and happiness. While an entire industry exists to help meet these pressing goals, people flounder. How many times can we try to lose weight, quit smoking, cut back on alcohol consumption, or try to find a more suitable purpose in life? A good answer: As many times as it takes to get it right.

Lasting change is difficult because many of our habits are deeply ingrained, and certain core personality attributes may be immutable. But all habits and character traits can be altered to varying degrees. You are not powerless, it's never too late to change and with effort and determination, it is possible to be the person you want to be. Or at least someone closer to it.

Setting and Achieving Goals

Self-help goals start with identifying one's needs by asking both specific and broad questions. What do you want to change? What do you need to do to affect that change? What are your short-term goals? What are your long-term goals? How realistic and achievable are your goals? What resources are available to help you meet your goals? It helps to make a list of the benefits of achieving your goals, to use for motivation. It also helps to set a timeframe for meeting both short-term and long-term goals. Be flexible! Goals can change.

Seeking Support From Others

Self-help doesn’t necessarily mean going it alone. Mutual self-help groups for issues like weight control, mental health, physical health, aging, bereavement, caregiving, and addiction-related recovery not only provide like-minded companionship and support but also education and direction from peers and, often, professional leaders. Personal characteristics along with the nature and severity of the problem also contribute to the effectiveness of any individual or group self-help plan.

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