Self help and politics

The last couple of weeks have been reflective for me. First we were away which was a nice break but secondly at the end of last week I tested positive for Covid. Thankfully i have not been too poorly with it, i struggled most with the 10 days of isolation. Anyway my thoughts have been exercised by feedback from a regular listener saying that they had decided to leave the podcast because we had become too political. It made me think a lot and question what we are doing here. I searched ‘politics’ and good old Wiki came back with…

Politics is the way that people living in groups make decisions. Politics is about making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups such as tribes, cities, or countries.’

This is a good description for me that shows politics with a small ‘p’ not party Politics with a big ‘P’. In this sense self help comes from the decisions that we make individually on how we think, feel and behave so that we can overcome our problems and lead happier and more fulfilling lives. The same process happens with groups of people from families to societies. I do not see a difference between self help and group help what I see is a process of growing awareness and waking up.

There is no difference between individual decisions and collective decisions. Those decisions will either help us or not.

The process of self help often begins in a sleepy vague sate of self awareness with ‘I have a problem’. At this stage the individual will take very little responsibility for what is happening for them. Often they will seek others to blame and also try to find others who will make it right for them. These outside agencies that are either creating or solving the problems and known as ‘Them’. “You’ll never guess what they have done now?” “You think that they would help us?” While we hang on to concepts of ‘them’ and ‘they’ and do not help our selves we cannot  change our situation.

Self help is about taking personal responsibility and doing something about our situation ourself. We will often need help from therapists and teachers, we might need training and courses, develop skills and techniques that will enable us to get  through our problems. Eventually we can become, what I call, a ‘self starter’.

Self help is a process of increasing our awareness or consciousness. In the first instance the process is very egocentric, as it should be, and we learn about ourself what has happened to us and how we have become the way that we are. As awareness of our self increases we also develop awareness of others and the needs of others. For many this creates a desire to help and to be of help. The vast majority of therapist trained to help others because they too had been through their own issues and having gone through the ego-centred phase they realised that they could help others.

The more aware or awake people become the more they are effected by what is going on around them. That might mean in their relationships, family, company, school, society, nation or even the world. With an increased awareness comes the desire to do something about it, whatever the ‘it’ is.

When someone avoids the news they are hunkering down in their own bubble and excluding the wider picture. If we are to be awake and informed members of humanity we need to be informed. That does not mean inundated with negativity. We need to discriminate so that we can see a balance of both the good and the bad going on around us. Discrimination is a fundamental characteristic of self help.

As you probably know I have had to work through many personal issues in a variety of settings and on the way I became a therapist. I have worked in the private and the public sector in mental health and the prison service. My role have often been as a advocate for service users and for staff. In my work and my own development there came a point where it was no longer enough to attend to myself and I was driven to attend to the needs of others. This is an ongoing process for me.

When I work with individuals we often begin working at the ego level and then open it out, with growing awareness, to include other people and a wider understanding of the issues. In organisations I often start with a team and open their attitudes and understanding of their place in the organisation.

We are group animals that are, as much as we might not want to accept it, dependent on each other. Humanity only works, at any level, when we work together. For me when I see people working to unity I rejoice and when I see people working to fracture what we have, I get sad. I am forever saying…

…if we all look after each other we will all be okay.

I guess what I am saying is that the podcast and my work is political but with a small ‘p’. The madness of politics with a big ‘P’ I am not interested in other than I observe with amazement and sometimes despair. 

If you take the path of self help and self development there will come a point when you will be effected by things and driven to do something about it. If enough of us can wake up enough we might just save humanity and even the planet. But does that sound too political?

Take care, be happy, help your self and where you can help other people.

Sean x 


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