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Self-help has a strange rap. Self-help can conjure up images of hotel or resort conference rooms with a charismatic speaker in the front and perhaps a free DVD and workbooks in the back. One may have the cynical view that one would have to pay exorbitant fees for someone to tell them that they are able to achieve anything. It's important to note here that the reason that motivational speakers can help people is that telling yourself that you can achieve and succeed is easier said than done. All of us, including myself, have shortcomings, addictions, and all-around bad habits that we either want to break or have made a tentative armistice with. While I have not personally invested in any of these resort getaways, I have invested in self-help books. For instance, Rewire by Richard O’Connor is a great self-help book, especially if you are curious about self-help or want a good starting point. The best aspects of Rewire can be boiled down into three aspects: science, compassion, and efficacy.
Rewire’s thesis operates off of the idea that your mind has a conscious self and an automatic self. While your conscious self may want to get rid of that biting procrastination habit or penchant for sweet snacks, your automatic self, the biggest driving force, goes ahead and watches another youtube video or picks up a pack of donettes from the local corner store. While we cannot fully control the automatic self, through the use of self-awareness, we can start to form new, better habits and start to make something better of ourselves. A great aspect of this book is the amount of research and science that went into this book. Each recommendation or argument involves data and references, but the book never degenerates into psychological jargon either. Anyone can pick this book up and glean something from it.
Rewire also takes an important, almost compassionate, tact when it comes to talking about working on yourself. This book touches upon every popular malady you can think of and leaves a broad enough brush for anything that wasn't explicitly mentioned. Part of the understanding of the thesis is that it is difficult to fully control the automatic self, and practicing willpower is just like practicing a muscle. In that same vein, it is important to remember that these habits don’t just disappear. All you are trying to do is “rewire” the circuits in your brain to more often veer towards the more positive action or temptation. We will always be in danger of what O’Connor refers to as the “undertow,” the self-destructive relapse that throws you back towards danger. This is an important but overlooked concept in self-improvement. We often hear about how to get started on our journeys of self-improvement, but rarely do we hear about when we’re thrown off the wagon and how to get back onto it. It provides some compassion for some of us part-time bad kids out there. No one’s perfect, and you’re not a failure for giving in to temptation. O’Connor provides tips and solutions for getting back on the wagon and towards self-improvement.
Efficacy would be the final pillar in regard to why Rewire is an important self-help book. Every chapter ends with a self-awareness or self-reflection exercise that is directly related to the chapter’s topic. While these exercises range from something as simple as thinking of three good things that happened in your day to something as pervasive as changing your thought processes to become more assertive (responsibly), each of these exercises feels doable and feels directly related to the problem you want to solve. Even the thought process exercises feel doable and able to assimilate into your daily life. The more tangible exercises make you feel as if you’ve achieved a goal for the day such as completing the log. Even when you are feeling in the weeds, you will also feel like there is a way out through doing at least one of the exercises, including one on helping conquer the undertow.
Richard O’Connor’s Rewire is the perfect self-help book for the skeptics, the bad kids, and the lost. The book provides tangible exercises to help you progress when you aren’t sure where to start on your bad habits or are feeling overwhelmed by where you want to start improving. It provides references and research to back up these exercises and ideas as well. That way, you feel as if what you are doing is grounded in something other than personal testimony or intuition. Also, there is a solution for dusting yourself off and getting back up, one of the most difficult aspects of the journey of self-improvement. For those who are looking to get started on self-help or wanting to find a good read, I strongly recommend Rewire. It will surely help you get onto the right direction.
(Photo Source above: Amazon)