Falling back on yourself

If the lockdown is teaching me anything, it is that we only have ourselves to fall back on when the chips are truly down.

While I enjoy reading self-help books, the hype about the, so-called, ‘power of self’ has always irked me. I do believe that we all have within ourselves a certain power, of course, to change the things that cause us unhappiness or distress. But it is the almost charismatic religious nature of the ‘power of self’ message which I was cynical over.

‘The power of self’ has spawned a whole genre within the self help industry. It is a way of urging people to look within themselves to find the power to make mind set changes to embrace positivity. The phrase, ‘power of self’, has always struck me as being an American guru’s catch phrase for selling his/her books. Within this context, an associated secondary lesson I am learning is that cynicism is best practised when one has the privilege of choice in life. Through the absence of normal life, i.e going to restaurants, cafes, seeing friends and family, we lose the privilege of being consumers of choice in our lives.

Fast foward to these days of isolation and lock down and I find that I am being thrown back on to myself. That’s right. It is the ‘power of self’ which is helping me get through my days. In the absence of a normal routine that dictates my waking hour and sleeping time, I find that I am being even more productive. There is a long list of things which I have been meaning to get through ‘if only I had the time’. I am making good progress with this list.

I am a structuralist and a firm believer that you can only change so much within yourself and your surroundings, given the structures of capitalism and authority that we live in. However, I am finding that there is a lot more to this ‘power of self’ business than I had reckoned with.

The ‘power of self’ has transmuted from being an object of my mistrust to helping me fulfil my ambitions. Put simply, if there is one lesson that I will take away from this lockdown period it is that we only have ourselves to fall back on during true moments of crises. It is the internal that assumes prime importance.

P/S I still remain a structuralist (the NHS really does need State funding and no amount of clapping will magic up that money) and acknowledge the Hobbesian state that we are living in. What I am talking about is the power within each of us to make sense of our external world.


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