Self help is an oft used term that always sounds kind of lonely to me. It conjures up the image of a troubled or confused person, with nobody else around, searching her or his soul for the knowledge and ability needed to solve the most pressing, most fundamental issues. Then she thinks, "If I could do all this by myself, I wouldn't have these issues to begin with - or, at the very least, I would have fixed this stuff already!"

Well, thankfully, that's not what self help is about. You are certainly not alone in the universe and you don't have to pretend to be either. The real key to self help is in finding and using the best resources available. There is no dearth of information or advice out there. However, sifting through it all, finding the relevant, most authoritative resources is job one in helping yourself. Here are a few ideas for accomplishing that.

On Location: There are usually a variety of live and in person resources nearby, yours for the asking. Check with your local library, public school, or college. You don't have to tell anyone your life story. All you need to do is mention the general topic you're interested in and ask if there are any groups, books, videos, etc. that pertain to the topic. For some topics, local government can be great resource, too.

The Wide World: Diving into the sea of information available on the Internet can be daunting. Sometimes it's a matter of choosing the right search terms. As you see the material, you may find new ways of saying your self help topic. Do a new search on each to see if you recognize more of yourself in any particular phrase. Please use a couple of search engines, too. They are not all the same, and can produce vastly different results. By the way, the first page of search engine results is not always the best, perhaps only the best marketed. Websites will pay professional marketers to optimize their sites in order to appear on that first page. Dig a little deeper into the results and you may find your gem on page 5 or 10.

Credentials: As unfair to some self- educated people as it may seem, one of the only ways we have to judge whom to believe is by their credentials, i.e. degrees, titles, position, etc. It is no coincidence that credential and credence come from the same word root meaning trust or believe.

Here's a piece of advice about pieces of advice. If it doesn't make sense to you, it probably is not a good idea for you. Understand what you are getting into before leaping headlong into a particular course of action, even if it's just a cursory understanding. To use an example from my own field, you don't have to be a practicing hypnotherapist to benefit from self hypnosis, but understanding something about how hypnosis works, what it can and can't do, and so on, will help you to know if it is appropriate for you.

Please keep in mind that in your self help quest you are not alone. Others have pondered your topic. Others are also seeking. It is possible to be independent, but not alone.

Author's Bio: 

The work of Richard A. Blumenthal, MS, NCC has been published in such esteemed journals as Medical Hypnoanalysis, The International Journal of Psychosomatics, The Journal of Human Behavior and Learning, and The British Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Mr. Blumenthal is the originator of Rational Suggestion Therapy, and the inventor of HypnoSoft Self Hypnosis Software, located at , for which he was awarded a United States patent.