I’ve been telling the story of finding my first self-help psychology book, Self Creation by George Weinberg. The title immediately intrigued me, the subtitle more so. I wanted to get myself unstuck from a future of endless boring jobs and Weinberg's book promised change. It told me that I created myself and could therefore re-create myself, and starting with that book I began to do so. As I changed myself I also changed my world.
It all started when, in my early 20s, after working a few years, I realized I wanted something more from life than a long stream of boring dead-end jobs. I wanted challenge, passion, and fun. Self-help psychology gave me that to me, and more, from the moment I picked up that that first book. At that point, a career as a therapist might have made sense. However, any psychology career I could see looked mostly to be about damage assessment and repair. That did not interest me.
What I wanted from psychology was to learn— about me, about others, and about being human. I wanted to know what made us tick, and each tick differently. And I'd wanted to know for a while. I just had no idea that I could. Once I read Weinberg's book, I added others. For the next 20 years or so I read one self-help psychology book after another, nights and weekends. And I worked weekdays, dead-end jobs at first. When not reading psychology books, I observed the psychology I was reading about in myself and others, and I experimented with it. All of it changed me, and changing me changed my world.
In the end, the boring jobs still weren't enough for me. But changing me and changing my world included changing that. First and foremost, psychology is about how we relate to others and we relate to others everywhere in life. In my case, for example, I had felt inferior to others. Psychology slowly but surely increased my self-esteem and that improved my presentation and communication. Second, psychology is about addressing specific life issues. In my case, the issue was boring dead-end jobs and psychology simply motivated me to find a way to be recognized for the more that I could do than just fill a dead-end job. This led to a talk with one of my bosses who suggested a perfect career choice. I could earn a certificate in real estate appraisal, studying part-time while still working full-time. The work would be an apprenticeship, so the career would begin immediately.
It took me six years to complete the combined program and earn that certificate. But I immediately started work as a residential appraiser and moved a couple of years later into commercial property appraisal. It was a great career choice. The income potential was outstanding, the perks even better. I was one of the first women in the program, too, loved that, and made more friends than I'd ever had. It was hard work, but the self-help psychology kept me steadily changing my belief in myself. There was variety in the work, too, which I also loved. Besides office work, there was field work and sometimes travel. I toured much of Canada and the United States courtesy of my career.
I ended up climbing the corporate/institutional ladder, making it most of the way to the top. I owe that success to self-help psychology, well, and a lot of hard work too. Hitting the glass ceiling finally stopped me. Mostly, though, I also let it. I had discovered generic spirituality by then and wanted a new career specifically oriented toward that. I also owe self-help psychology for leading me to generic spirituality. For one thing, self-help psychology taught me that the physical world isn't as physically solid and real as we think. For another thing, self-help psychology helped me explore enough of the subconscious terrain of my human mind to catch a glimpse beyond. The story continues in next week's blog post.