Helping Me Help Myself

Helping Me Help Myself

4.5 30
by Beth Lisick

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Beth Lisick has had a lifelong phobia of anything slick, cheesy, or that remotely claims to provide self-empowerment. But on New Year's Day 2006, she wakes up finally able to admit that something has to change. Determined to confront her fears head-on, Beth sets out to fix her life by consulting the multimillion-dollar-earning experts. In Chicago, she gets

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Beth Lisick has had a lifelong phobia of anything slick, cheesy, or that remotely claims to provide self-empowerment. But on New Year's Day 2006, she wakes up finally able to admit that something has to change. Determined to confront her fears head-on, Beth sets out to fix her life by consulting the multimillion-dollar-earning experts. In Chicago, she gets proactive with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In Atlanta, she struggles to understand why "women are from Venus." She gamely sweats to the oldies on a weeklong Cruise to Lose with Richard Simmons on the high seas of the Caribbean. Throughout this yearlong experiment, Beth tries extremely hard to maintain her wry sense of humor and easygoing nature, even as she starts to fall prey to some of the experts' ideas—ideas she thought she'd spent her whole life rejecting.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A delightful, Plimptonesque exercise in immersive journalism exploring the strange world of "self-help."Lisick (Everybody into the Pool: True Tales, 2005, etc.) devoted a year to various gurus in an attempt to self-actualize. She endeavored to become a Highly Effective Person under the auspices of Stephen Covey, to fortify her soul with Jack Canfield's Chicken Soup, to get fit with Richard Simmons on a cruise ship, to straighten out her perilous finances with Suze Orman, to consistently discipline her young son with Thomas Phelan's 1-2-3 Magic method, to figure out John Gray's Mars/Venus gender dichotomy, and generally to live a better, happier life. It is to the reader's great benefit that Lisick is: 1) a mess, 2) cynical and horrified of cheesiness, and C) effortlessly funny. Her visualizations didn't go right, she didn't have the right clothes for the ghastly seminars and on Simmons's cruise she got high and made inappropriate advances to a surly young musician accompanying his mother. Lisick makes keen use of comic detail, as when she charts the deflation of Simmons's hair over the course of the cruise. She is tough on the well-paid experts, but fair, sincerely laboring to suspend her skepticism and game to put their advice into action. Some of it works: A home-organization expert helps Lisick's family emerge from their chaotic clutter, and Phelan's discipline strategy tames her truculent toddler. But of course the book is funniest when things don't go so well. The author's revulsion over Gray's retrograde sexual stereotypes (and disturbingly smooth, buffed appearance) is palpable and highly amusing. Her articulate hatred of the anodyne platitudes in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Wayprovides a tonic for anyone dismayed by fuzzy New Age smugness. None of that from Lisick, who is sharp, irreverent and endearingly screwed-up. Her experiment may not have solved all of her problems, but she got an enjoyable book out of it. Funny, perceptive and surprisingly open-hearted under the cynicism. Agent: Arielle Eckstut/Levine Greenberg Literary Agency
Seattle Times
“wildly funny” and “a cross between David Sedaris and Susan Orlean.”
Bust Magazine
“Beth Lisick’s latest book is a wildly fun read that falls somewhere in between memoir and a Cliffs Notes guide to the self-help genre.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Lisick has created a hilarious, knowing tale of a year of willing ridiculousness.”
not only hilarious but enlightening... Readers will be inspired: If a woman in a banana suit can clean her closet and pay off her credit card debt, surely you can, too.”
Los Angeles Times
“sweetly neurotic, funny and occasionally insightful.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A witty, disarmingly earnest account of the year [Lisick] spent test-driving renowned self-help franchises.”

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Helping Me Help Myself
One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone

Chapter One


A lesson in cringle-stifling

Technically, you wait until January 2 to start your resolutions, right? When everything is supposed to be getting back to normal, when banks are open and mail delivery resumes, that must be when you jump in and blindside this nascent, unsuspecting year with your hot new program. Because, if you're like me, the first of January is already shot. It's noon and you're just getting in the car to drive down to your parents' house to collect your four-year-old son and will spend the next six hours sinking into their battered leather sofa with the central heat blasting while emptying a wooden bowl of its potato chips and staring at a football game on the enormous TV screen before eating a half-pound of ham and polishing off the rest of the See's candies. See what I'm saying? You can't attempt anything new or revolutionary under those circumstances.

My dad, who's gearing up for triple bypass surgery later this month, is filling Eli in on the game using some of his favorite phrases like "barn burner" and "deep yogurt." Eli's not much of a football fan, but he can get into the novelty of it during holiday gatherings. My son, Gus, is momentarily content, doing a connect-the-dots book on the coffee table in front of me as I watch this football coach get more and more agitated. My first thought is: I'm glad it's not me he's yelling at. Then it dawns on me that I've been hearing a lot lately about "personal coaches" and "life coaches." It's usually in the context of a joke, or oneof those newspaper lifestyle features you can't quite believe is real. One of those stories where it seems like the journalist is just interviewing her friends and passing it off as a trend. But maybe I should find a coach to help me. The thought of it makes my scalp tingle, but it might be time to admit that if I put my mind to it, anything could happen. I'm already doing okay, so I've got nowhere to go but up, right? It could even be entirely possible that by the end of the year I will actually be able to say it—"life coach"—without using a cartoon voice or making air quotes with my fingers.

"I need a life coach," I practice saying to the TV.

There are supposedly 30,000 certified life coaches in the world right now, and lord knows how many unlicensed practitioners lurking about on Craigslist, which means that each time I say those words with a sneer I am essentially hocking a giant loogie on a group of people who are only trying to help (and I'm sure some who are preying on your insecurities, which can be found in any profession, including dentistry, landscaping, and the small but influential army of body waxers). I'll start with opening my heart a little and trying not to be mean for sport. Being mean, as I've learned from Gus and quite a few blogs, is one of the easiest things in the world.

The first time I ever heard of a life coach was a couple of years ago. Some guy I'd met at a party, the kind who introduces himself as "an entrepreneur," was carrying on about a dinner party he'd thrown to which he'd invited everyone in his employ—"my people," he'd said. I was a little hung up on the reality of it anyway, a dinner party for the eight people who work for you—not for you at your company, but just, you know, the housekeeper, the accountant, the pool guy, and the like. The staff. (How did I even meet this person?) He said he had wanted to invite everyone "from his life coach to his housekeeper" but wasn't sure if his house-keeper would feel awkward, because she didn't speak that much English, or—"and I know this is terrible to say," he conceded—if his life coach would feel "insulted" to be invited to a dinner party that included the housekeeper.

Quality problems.

I went on to quiz him, in a not unkind manner, about what he and his coach did together as I tried to wrap my mind around it. You pay this person to help you achieve your goals. You are so focused on yourself and your quest for fulfillment and happiness that you hire a professional to motivate you. You're okay, but you want to be the best you can be, and you have a very specific idea of what constitutes this Ultimate You. The corners of my mouth were involuntarily turning downward as I spoke, nearly twitching as if they were being pulled by strings. Interesting that I have none of these reactions when people tell me they are in therapy. I have heard of life coaching being called "the new therapy," and supposedly it's much more popular with men because of the bro-friendly nomenclature.

Just hanging with my coach. We're coming up with a game plan!

But why am I so critical of someone who's trying to improve his life? Do I think if I don't keep up, I'll be the last loser standing? Part of it is that the intimacy of having a personal coach freaks me out. I can barely get a pedicure without feeling ridiculous for imposing my feet upon someone for twenty minutes. How could I dump my whole life in someone's lap?

It's not that I don't have a plan. What I want to do is spend the year putting some well-known self-help programs to the test, but I am lacking any semblance of an entry point. Do newbies really just walk down the self-help aisle at the bookstore and pick up whatever looks appropriate? For something so monstrously pop-u-lar, it sure is difficult to get hooked up. Where's the pusher willing to give me the first one for free?

Helping Me Help Myself
One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone
. Copyright © by Beth Lisick. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>

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Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really didn't care much for this book, I thought it would be more along the lines of A. J. Jacobs year long experiments, such as The Year of Living Biblically. Instead it was rather smug half-hearted look at some different self help fads.
Anonymous 10 months ago
U shouldnt do tht u should fight it as much as u can and dont give up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Christmas- Santakit-red white and green tom. Hanakkah- Menorahkit(me)- colorful she cat with an orange tailtip. Halloween- Dragonkit- black tom. Skeletonkit-pale grey shecat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I totally agree nicole is awsome. Anonymos
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aw, thanks! Nicole.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main principal in life...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
[>.>] [<.<] *pukes* Ree
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name=leopardstar <br> rank=med cat <br> description=a tom that looks a lot like a leopard ((hence the name)) but instead of black spots he has dark blue spots <br> crush=does it really matter? I am a med <br> mate=med cat <br> history=he used to live alone with his brother and sister after his parents died, until he and his kin decided to live alone or with other clans <br> kin= father was fireclaw (not the one here) mother was blueflame. He had a sister named blackness and a brother named cerberus (yes the one at res one)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: above.. Gender: shekit. Looks: lightgray fur with black spotches on her ears, blue eyes. Family: Thunderclaw (dead) and Thunderheart (dead) no brothers or sisters. History: lived about a moon alone before stumbling across this clan. As soon as I joined a hawk attacked me. I'm five moons old. Mate/crush: none. Other: I want my warrior name to be Shadeclaw. Personality: shy but yet talkitive. I am a daredevil and sometimes a troublemaker. Other then that go talk to her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Sunpaw <br> Looks: Orange she with violet eyes <br> Kin: Mosskit- brother, Thornfall and wingdust- parents <br> Crush: .....D-i've said too much!!! Secret <br> Other: Asks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
&spades Mosspaw- a handsome tom and a light brown senior apprentice with moss green eyes. He is calm mature and kind ad has a crush on Whitepaw..... or maybe Silverpaw? Probably Whitepaw. He has no mate and wants his warrior name to be Mossflame. &spades &hearts Shadowpaw- a beautiful she cat and jet black senior apprentice with electric blue eyes. She is bubbly and VERY naughty, yet clever and has a crush on Lightningpaw but has no mate. Wants the warrior name Shadowheart. &hearts
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He burried the rest. "Good."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dark Hopes and Trials, LightBlood, LightClan's Part 1<p> Duskclaw baked in the sun, remincing. He already finished the day's tasks so he watched the clan as a whole, but especially Suntail. He remembered the waterfall. When they were splashing and laughing often. When they were carefree. And then there's the gem, the pretty green gemstone that was there. That he had-his thoughts were interrupted with the arrival of his mother.<br> "Duskclaw, get up off the ground. If you're bored then go help the elders. Or you can come hunt with me. Choose quickly," Bluestar said as she passed by.<br> Duskclaw sighed and got up. "Never take an offer like that for granted," he muttered, chasing her out of camp.<br> Suntail watched Duskclaw leave and then went to go help the elders. Worry and confusion passed through her face as she padded into the elders' den.<br> "You need any help in here," she asked the two elders.<br> Moonfur nodded. "I think I may have a tick on my scruff. Can you send Mosspaw in to take care of it?"<br> Suntail nodded, turning to Skyfall. "Skyfall? You need anything?"<br> Skyfall looked up and said weakly, "A mouse, I guess." She then started to groom her pelt.<br> Suntail nodded again and padded out to find Mosspaw.<br> Mosspaw was taking a midday napwhen Suntail found him. She nudged her brother awake. "Hey, sleepyhead. Moonfur wants help with a tick and Skyfall would like a mouse. They requested you."<br> Mosspaw slowly comprehended what he was being told as he awoke. "So, tick and mouse? That is what you said, right," he asked, sleepily.<br> "Yes, now go do it please. Before someone gets mad." She watched Mosspaw get up and slowly pad out of the apprentises' den to the medicine den. She followed out and went to a tree and layed under it. She daydreamed about herself and the cat she thought she knew. She was asleep before Mosspaw ever returned from the medicine den.<p> Comments at 'comment' res 4. Please include good feedback, like suggestions and questions. Locations at 'dark desire' res 1. Thank you for those taking the time to actually read this. I appreciate it. LightBlood.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My boyfriend hinks im heating on him. Im not so what do i do?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What isbyour name mines M.G.S
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My crush is at my old shcool and i probaly wont see him again but i think he liked me any advicd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name:above gender:tom pelt:ginger tabby fur with emerald eyes mate/kits:ravenheart and there kits personality:forgiving wide emotions never backs down froma fight other:ask
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No, I dont know her email. And my parents took my Ipod touch so i cant contact her in any way except for in person. Which will be very very very awkward... And we don't really talk much because I try to avoid her. And since we haven't talked in a really long time... I think the situation will get worse. I think? Ok anyways please help me out here. You're doing great so far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name:ferncloud. Age:20 moons. Apperance: a black shecat with brown eyes. Persenality: shes kind. Loving. Treats others with respect.. and above all.. a great warrior who will protect her clan. Kin: snowfur ( sister. In lightning clan). Mate: jaggedpeak. Kits: none but wants to be a mother. Ask her anything you want to know
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think you shoukd go up to him and say "The note is nit what I intended to say, I thought it meant (whateves you wanted to write). Please forgive me and i hope we can still be friends."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What you need to do is go up too him. You need to tell him that thats not what u wrote. Tell him what you really wrote. If that dosnt work try to get your brother to help you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Coalkit snowkit whitherkit bastetkit flowerkit silverkit whitekit shrivelkit sandkit downykit eclipsekit lunarkit mintkit peppermint whipkit creamkit quietkit autokit bastiskit glowkit downkit linkkit grasskit duskkit dawnkit sunnykit sunkit pinekit marshkit crystalkit diamondkit brightkit swiftkit teeterkit totterkit sunsetkit nightkit...and they are all at christmas carol res 1!