When things were at their worst, I was extremely fortunate to be around a family who, although they maybe didn’t understand totally what was going on (after all, I didn’t really either), they were determined to help me get out of it whilst providing any support I needed.

Through his work, my dad knew of someone who also worked closely with people as a “life coach”. Initially, I balked at the idea of having a life coach – after all, wasn’t it one of those cheesy, motivational, inspirational people that were just going to give me positive quotes to think about each day? I knew that sort of thing wouldn’t help, given how other forms of philosophy and inspiration had fallen short when I needed them most. Besides, there’s nothing worse than someone telling you to just “be happy” or “be motivated” when you’re at your worst.

However, I was once again fortunate enough to be in such a pit of self-sabotage and suffering, with no real understanding of what was going on or how to get out of it, plus the added worry that it could go on forever, that I was humbled into saying yes. The suffering I was going through forced me to have a completely open mind about getting to the root of what was going on and with that, any solutions that would hopefully come from it. I felt like I didn’t really have anywhere else to turn.

So I said yes. I had an initial consultation with him. He came across extremely genuine, caring and understanding and said he would only be able to help out if I was committed to helping myself out first, which I thought was both honest and true. His programme was 8 one-to-one meetings with him once a week, with reading tasks and ‘homework’ after each session, based on what we had discussed. And it was genuinely one of the best decisions of my life.

Those eight weeks were truly life-changing and while I won’t go into every single detail here, I will highlight two important books that were recommended to me early on. One was The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer and the other one was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. These completely changed everything for me.

With all that was going on in my experience, particularly the self-sabotaging inner narrative and the incessant chatter that I was seemingly at a distance from, but just couldn’t stop, it felt like every single word in them spoke to me. Having naively but genuinely felt that that no-one was experiencing what I was going through, I can’t describe the relief of reading chapter by chapter and feeling as though the book had been written just for me.

It was vastly different from anything I had read before. There weren’t mindset tips, positive quotes, intellectualisation or rationalisation of problems. There wasn’t any “do this to get out of your rut” or “visualise this scenario to make yourself feel better about your own scenario”. It wasn’t about making your thinking smarter, wiser, or more bulletproof. It was examining the process of thinking itself, what the voice of the mind actually is and crucially, realising experientially that you are not anything that the mind says – positive or negative – you are that which lies behind it.

Here are just a few quotes from the The Untethered Soul:

“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it.”

“It’s actually a shocking realization when you first notice that your mind is constantly talking. You might even try to yell at it in a feeble attempt to shut it up. But then you realize that’s the voice yelling at the voice”

“If you’re willing to be objective and watch all your thoughts, you will see that the vast majority of them have no relevance. They have no effect on anything or anybody, except you.” 

“When a problem is disturbing you, don’t ask, “What should I do about it?” Ask, “What part of me is being disturbed by this?”

“How would you feel if someone outside really started talking to you the way your inner voice does? How would you relate to a person who opened their mouth to say everything your mental voice says? After a very short period of time, you would tell them to leave and never come back. But when your inner friend continuously speaks up, you don’t ever tell it to leave. No matter how much trouble it causes, you listen.”

I can’t recommend either of them enough, to anyone.

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Read Part 1

Read Part 3