John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD


I was reading Seth Godin’s blog the other day and he made the this statement: “The only real help is self-help. Anything else is just designed to get your to the point where you can help yourself.”

(Seth’s blog posts are pithy, which is one the reasons I read him.)

I agree with his statement. Psychologists, for instance, do not change people. But they do help people change themselves.

What’s the difference? Better yet, why bother consulting a psychologist if all help is self-help?

Answer: what psychologists really do is help you understand the emotional elements behind resistance. When we try to change something about ourselves, we take a step or two but soon fall back to old patterns. Why? Why do we have this contradiction in ourselves?

This is what a psychologist tries to help you understand. You may consciously will new behavior to come about, but if it fails, is there a belief or feeling or schema that’s holding you back? Probably.

Human beings are remarkably self-consistent, even when the behavior in question is maladaptive. If you want to change, you’ll have to de-automate the pattern. (Yes, I just made that word up.) If the problem is serious -- depression, anxiety, eating disorder -- it’s not likely to yield to willpower alone. You’ll have to dig deeper.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone.

Related post: Digging Deep in the Psychological Soil