The Best Self-Help Article. Ever.

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So you’re overweight, out of shape, lazy and have given up on all your dreams and aspirations. Bad news. I can’t help you. Worse news — no one else can help you, either. “Wait. Hold on a minute,” you’re saying. But you just said… you PROMISED that this was going to be the best self-help article. Ever.

Look at your title!

Yeah, well, I might have exaggerated a tad, but I do promise that this is going to help.

“OK, you’re going to hit us with some good news now, right?”

Nope. This positive change you crave, need, and desperately want? Turns out it’s ridiculously hard work. Like, laying bricks hard work. Like becoming a Navy SEAL hard work. The hardest work, to find that spark, that inspiration to change and to keep going. And you should also know, help ain’t coming.

I will throw you a little bone: You don’t actually need anyone else. Everything you need you already have.

You do have to give up a few things deeply ingrained in your psyche that have been your constant companions for years.

All right — now you’re talking! What do I have to give up? Smoking? Drinking? Sleeping? Well, you really should give up drinking alcohol and why the hell are you still smoking? But wait, never give up sleep, as a matter of fact, sleep a little more, please. No, no, no, I’m not talking about that. I am not talking about giving up certain behaviors. I am talking about giving up a few thoughts.

The first thought to give up is one that I have already mentioned. Twice. Give up the idea that someone, anyone, is going to come and rescue you — to do most of the work for you, but let you reap the benefits. That’s never going to happen. You are your own best and only hope for any lasting change, and no one else, no matter how much they love you, can do this for you. Even parents who would do anything for their children can’t do it.

The second thought you have to give up is self-hate. Stop talking to yourself like a viciously mean critic. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. You would never say some of the things you say to yourself to a friend, a family member, or a coworker. This is actually more difficult than running a mile. However, this is the most useful thing you can possibly do for yourself, because you are going to need to create new room within that venomous self-hating place you live — creating space so some kindness can get in. And believe me, you’re going to need all the kindness toward yourself you can possibly muster.

The third and last thing you have to give up is thinking that there is always tomorrow. There isn’t. And you have to start living like that every day. This is a little different than living every day as if it were your last, which is a lot of pressure to create the perfect day. I once heard the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist (The Usual Suspects). But, I believe it was convincing humanity that there is a always a tomorrow and it’s there waiting for you as an opportunity to change. We are never assured of a tomorrow.

Inspiration isn’t going to be gifted to you. Desire isn’t going to be given to you. The next breath is never guaranteed. Giving up on goals, and dreams and life is easy, but it is far from painless.

So, take your stand. Not making a choice is actually making a choice. And remember that people who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by the people doing it.

Now get to work! Or get some sleep, then get to work. Either way, you’re winning.

See, I did deliver on a damn good self-help article, even if the only person who really needed to hear it was myself.

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