Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Feature Writer, Li Laurent - Therapist & Creator of The Self Helped
I have been many labels in my life already, and I am (hopefully) not even halfway yet.
I have been a Dancer, a Singer-Songwriter, Mental Health Social Worker, Therapist and now Business Owner, if still not 90% of the above (the dancing is a little rusty but the rest holds true).
Whilst who I have professionally identified as across time has invariably changed, my values absolutely have not. I have always been committed to the truth, I have always strived to be a better version of who(ever) I was yesterday and I have always always always loved self help. My god, have I loved it. I have been obsessed with the idea that you can change, thrive, grow & shift throughout your life, because there is nothing more hopeful in this life than knowing you have autonomy over who you are. Yes are there systemic limitations to contend with. Yes there are practical and physical barriers to mitigate along the way. But the idea that we can extend the locus of our control - that we can take matters into our own hands and be accountable for our lived experience - well blow me that sounds pretty fucking good.
Now, by and large I have always wanted to become a doctor (still pending but that's what moving abroad will do to you - delays honey). I have always been concerned with the human experience, in part because I have historically ruminated over my own, and in part because I think the closest thing to a real life super hero is someone who saves lives with science. But the type of hero? Well, I also always knew she wasn't going to be very mainstream.
I had initially pursued a medical degree but after becoming disillusioned with pharmaceuticals and a general inability of the western world to accept they weren't always right when it came to providing effective care, changed gears. Yes some meds are the absolute bees knees, but some aren't, and we're so immeshed in political systems that perpetuate cronyism, capitalism and elitism at all costs, that we lose any scope for real meaningful progress along the way. This has happened across time & across history, where some of our greatest minds and leaders were steered away from varying forms of evolution because some part of society wasn't ready to move on or because a particular part of society benefitted from staying abso-fucking-lutely stagnant. I do wonder if the global inability to value that popular opinion has as equal merit as the alternative, is because it evidences that critical thinking is available to us all and creates an uncomfortable shift in social power dynamics.
Anyway, I decided that I wasn't comfortable at the time becoming what I felt was a cog in a shitty system, and so I decided to shift towards psychological intervention. This was by way of a MH Social Work Masters en route to my dream goal as therapist. Unsurprisingly, yet much to my surprise, this system too, has cogs. So I learnt the hard way that my approach, philosophical musings and general sense of self might not camouflage into the bigger picture the same way everyone else's did, does or can. That's not to say along the way I didn't meet like minded people who wanted to change their corner of the world just like I did, but they did it in a way I often couldn't relate to. They'd be able to ask the right questions, say the right thing, use the system for what it was - an anchor point to work within, making changes from the inside out over time, whilst knowing that this wasn't the most effective way of working, it was at least, trying to be effective. I honestly have a lot of admiration for this because I think it takes a lot of social skill and agility to work with and within the limitations of organisations, whilst simultaneously working to change them. But me - socially disruptive, sometimes difficult and not overly invested in being charismatic about it, found it almost unbearable to be a part of something that I so actively resented.
Whilst it's obviously not my job to change the ways of the world, it's also not not my job.
Reasonably, we all have a part to play. And my part very much felt like, The Self Helped.
She started small, she started gradually, and she started with some obvious trepidation.
But by jove, she started.
It was an instagram account.
It was working independently as a therapist.
It was a website, resources, tools & subscriptions.
And I soon found my inbox flooded (a light drizzle maybe) with messages about how helpful the content was, how it made sense, how it inspired, how it wasn't "stuffy" or insincere. How it was obviously written by someone who knew what they were talking about, but it wasn't written devoid of that person's personality.
Now, I am as human as anybody else.
But I know my stuff, I'm good at what I do, & I am passionate about doing it.
The Self Helped, itself.
The Self Helped is a space for self development, self expression, self care and of course - self help. It's a space for authenticity, and a holistic approach to mental health, where radical honesty is encouraged and we make space for accessing the version - all the versions, of the person you are and want to be. It's a place that promotes you as 100% accountable for you, whilst nudging you along in the process and providing some shit hot content. If you have the will, we'll find the way (or something less cringe).
Why Bother With Bothering?
So why even bother with self help, why bother with therapy, why bother with bothering if you weren't bothered to bother in the first place? Fair. But the question I would pose here, is what's the trade off if you don't?
We are all products of our environments (I appreciate this doesn't qualify as news) but we never stop to think about truly adjusting the environments of our adult lives. Of our adult minds. We don't spend half as much time on trying to change the way we think, feel and exist, as we merely do on existing. The old saying "cut once, measure twice" should be applied (absolutely metaphorically) to human behaviour.
Therapy is such a great shout as a starting point for exploring and understanding yourself. It's a great investment and with the right therapist the returns on that investment are absolutely spectacular. But it fundamentally, is not enough. I can say with absolutely certainty that your therapist wants more for you than the 50 minutes a week session. They want you to as actively participate in your well being as you expect them to every session. And if you're looking for a real turn around on how you think, feel and see the world, then you have to put as much effort into changing it as you do being challenged by it.
WORK ON YOURSELF. Frequently. Consistently. Dutifully.
Like it's your absolute job to do so, like it's paying your bills and feeding your cat.
We're all out here living, often without a thought of whether or not we're doing it in a way that best serves us. How insane is that? To just be. Without consideration of who you could be. People are coerced into self acceptance but they aren't cajoled into self development. Dieting and trying to be rich is about the most mainstream way we see this and only now in 2021 are we even trying to ascertain how who we are and how we behave is detrimental to ourselves and others.
Now I have the habit of going right off piste from my point, so in the name of capping my waffle, I'm going to park my thoughts right here. And just emphasise the value of helping yourself, even half as much as you might be inclined to help others. Or a fraction of how much you want to be helped by them.
All the best (I feel like I need to work on my sign off here),