top of page
  • Writer's pictureAndrew

Self Help

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Self-guided motivation is what most FIRE practitioners have done throughout their lives. It can offer the benefit of the other forms of treatment without imposing costs, logistic challenges, or stigma. It can be as simple as taking a long run, sitting at peace with a cup of coffee or beer, gardening, or any other conscious form of decompression. Sometimes, self-guided therapy (“self-medication”) creates bad habits. These can include excessive work, relentless accumulation of money, abuse of alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, and many, many others. While pleasurable and initially successful, these can lead to dysphoria, depression, and anxiety.

It’s important to remember that excessive coping may be masking an underlying need that may require guided coaching or therapy. However, for many readers, self-help is a great step toward an improvement in conditions.

Here are some resources that’ve helped me over time:

  1. The Tim Ferris Show: Tim has a huge body of work spanning more than a decade and much of it follows his journey to heal from personal trauma. Interestingly, it’s only become clear in recent years that much of his early exploration of physical and mental performance optimization was self-guided therapy, leading eventually to the more self-aware therapeutic lens through which he now speaks. He explores just about every option out there. Some of my favorite finds there included interviews with Rich Roll, Ramit Sethi, and Debbie Milliman.

  2. Michael Pollan, How to Change your Mind: While this book isn’t self-help directly, I found it’s discussions about the transgressions of the ego to be particularly helpful. In short, the ego is that little voice in your head that moves you through the day mostly in the direction that you’re moving, whether positive or negative, unless it’s consciously kept in check. The goal of many forms of therapy is to expand your ability to manage the ego and keep it working in your favor. More broadly, the book is about the history of psychedelic use in therapy for the treatment of ego-based disorders but I found even the discussion of the ego to very useful.

  3. Input-free weeks: I’m not sure where I came across the idea for this, but I’ve found it to be very helpful the several times I’ve done it. The idea is that you (and a partner, a group of friends, etc.) deliberately cut out ‘input’ for a week. This means, beyond work and other life requirements, cutting out internet use, television, books, music, and other media inputs. All output is permitted, including writing, playing music, and conversations. The premise is that all forms of input have a purpose but they are often misused, simply creating a distraction for the boredom, preventing the development of techniques for self-healing. Definitely worthwhile in our modern era of algorithms and overstimulation.

  4. Prompts: There are number of these around the internet. Basically, they are forced output. It’s amazing how little output our modern world requests of us and how therapeutic creating output can be.

  5. Play: I started thinking about this after reading Charlie Hoehn’s Play It Away; a Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety. Play, essentially having fun that is free of work and productivity obligations, is severely lacking in many parts of America. Who decided that children should enjoy play while those 18 years and older (arguably, children much younger than 18 are deprived of play at this point) should be at work, tending family, or passing time watching life happen via television or internet? There’s much to be said about building true recreation, free from optimization and contribution, back into your life.

Though we don't offer mental health services, we do offer personalized coaching. More information can be found here.

As always, if you need medical care, please seek it!

bottom of page