Reality Check: Help Yourself? Here are some resources…

Self-help may not be as effective as professional help. But if you can’t, or don’t want to find a suitable professional to help you work through your challenges, then self-help is better than no help at all.

Last column, I suggested that we can learn skills to help us live more satisfying lives and get along with the people we need. One way is through reading, and there are loads of books out there. However, you only need one book—the one that works for you. Here are a few possibilities.

The first book that I read by Dr. Glasser was the one that happened to be available at our library at the time. It was “Reality Therapy in Action,” since reissued as “Counseling with Choice Theory.” The book was an eye-opener for me. Glasser uses snippets of conversations from counseling sessions to demonstrate his approach and to teach the essentials of choice theory. It’s an excellent introduction to learning skills to help us improve our relationships.  

Several books by Dr. Glasser focus specifically on school, work, marriage, etc. However, if you want practical help in understanding why people behave as they do and how to get along, then I recommend his “Choice Theory” or the more recent “Take Charge of Your Life.”

Dr. Robert Wubbolding is another prolific author, highly respected in the choice theory community. I had the opportunity to participate in a role play exercise with him some years ago, and that experience alone left me with a permanent respect for his skill.

Among his many books is “A Set of Directions for Putting and Keeping Yourself Together.” Despite its short length and playful look, it is a very practical guide to getting your life together according to choice theory principles, appropriate for anyone of any age.

Another favourite of mine is “Employee Motivation,” a short but powerful book by Wubbolding. Whether you are a formal or informal workplace leader, this can help you get higher quality results from yourself and the folks around you.

Many resources aren’t specifically choice theory but are largely consistent with that approach, such as Dr. Michael Yapko’s “Depression is Contagious.” While the title doesn’t sound very uplifting (it could be perceived as depressing, actually) the book is full of very good, practical exercises. Consistent with choice theory, he suggests that relationships are key. His inclusion of practical “Learn by Doing” exercises makes it a good workbook.

“Mastering Happiness” by Dr. Joel Wade is an excellent week-by-week journey toward literally mastering happiness. This book may be difficult to find now, but Wade has just released a brand new book called “The Virtue of Happiness.” My copy is on order and I am awaiting it with great anticipation! If it’s as helpful as I expect it will be, then you will see references from it in future columns.

There are many more books by many helpful authors. Regardless of your choice, picking one book, reading it, and actually doing the suggested activities will be more effective than picking many books and having them decorate your bookshelf unread.

If you prefer videos to books, of course, there are also good websites, TED talks, email newsletters, and so on.

One last note regarding any activity: Evaluate how well it works for you. When you spend time reading or browsing websites, assess your response. Are you more inspired? Or less?

If you’ve spent your day watching inspirational talks about how people have overcome adversity and gone on to great achievements, do you feel more motivated? Or less? If you’re more discouraged, then you might want to choose a different activity!

Do you use self-help resources? What do you recommend?

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