on Dec. 13, 2011 :
Authors and publishers often send me books to review and, when time and chance allow, I do so with enjoyment. Occasionally, though, I'll get a self-help book; these I rarely read, and rarely review. I have always found myself an empty vessel and depend on the kindness of friends and strangers for a leg up during times of trial. Summarily, I provide little help for myself, and even less of it comes from self-help books.
This week, however, I looked at a book by David Lawrence Chilcote MSW, entitled Help Me Help Myself. The book is organized into 10 short chapters that focus on conditions or issues that most people confront on their personal journeys to Damascus. These include forgiveness--giving and getting--feelings of shame, guilt, and deprivation, the problem of divorce, managing the past, and the big topic of children and what to do about the little nippers.
"I like to believe that children are given to us as a gift," Chilcote writes. "Some even believe our children choose to be born to us. Despite what we [may] believe, it becomes our responsibility to properly raise children and learn constructive mechanisms for dealing with the world as they mature. It is not enough to just keep them safe. We could all do a pretty good job of keeping them safe if we simply locked them in our house, but that wouldn't help them experience life and grow into responsible, mature and intelligent adults. This is more what parenting is about; growth and experience, combined with safety, is the art of good parents."
Relatively broad but simply stated truisms like the one above are summarized at the end of each chapter by brief and easily understood advice in the form of steps such as "Step Four: work hard to 'get inside' our child's current world perspective. Walk in their shoes whenever we can. This will help us better guide their choices and decisions."
Chilcote is also a big advocate for manufacturing and maintaining positive attitudes about life's misadventures. This is, of course, utterly annoying and conclusively demonstrates to crabby people like me that the author is too young to remember the essential wisdom of Leslie Gore's anthem "It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want to." On the other hand, and sad to say, I know in my heart that he is absolutely right:
"...rain is a required weather phenomenon that sustains most life on earth. To become angered because it is raining on our parade can ruin what might otherwise be a great opportunity to improve our outlook. In fact, with the rainy day...we have the perfect opportunity to spark our internal creativity and spontaneity. ...and rain may hold a secondary higher purpose for us. Perhaps it slows us down just enough to avoid an accident, or allows us to discover a leaky roof panel that needs replaced. To develop an appreciation for the rain allows us to profit from it...and helps develop positive and mature emotional growth."
Help Me Help Myself is an economical book comprised of only 57 pages. This is in its favor; Chilcote doesn't waste time and gets to the points he wants to make without the hearts and flowers that disguise the paucity of ideas so much in evidence in a lot of contemporary non-fiction. His approaches are practical, understandable, and make sense.
This is probably because Chilcote has been a counseling and therapeutic practitioner rather than a theorist. He has worked in and managed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, knows and understands the dynamics surrounding domestic abuse and violence, and is an experienced marriage counselor. Along life's way he has been a bartender, a step parent, and currently owns and manages a health care related business. What he writes resonates with experience.
Help Me Help Myself is published by Smashwords as an e-book. If you're interested in buying the book go to http://www.smashwords.com/ and type in the title of the book. You pay (safely) with a credit card or PayPal if you have an account. Then you download the book into one of several formats that fit your reading device. I downloaded the book in a PDF file because I am old, cheap, and won't spring for a Kindle or IPad.
(reviewed the day of purchase)