Are self-help books really all that helpful? A personal strength list reveals a “maybe”

I was quickly browsing one of my many dating self-help books.  Just looking for validation that I am READY for a relationship.  Something that says the problem isn’t me.

I’m not going to go down the road of why my thinking “alone” is some sort of problem, failure or deficiet – created by society, who in turn has a high divorce rate.  No cynical-Sally is not the author of this post.  Kris Miner, the hero of her own story is the author.  (Don’t forget: You are the hero of your story!)

The book gives a “ready” check-list that includes the ability to instantly make a list of your 25 personal strengths.  Oh, easy, I can do that. 

I believe Self-awareness is one of, if not, the only way to make change.  Personal change.  My favorite blogger, Penelope Trunk, calls it self-knowledge.  You have to know how your behavior is impacting others, and in turn impacting your life.  I take time to try and be aware of who I am, and that is what let me know I could make a list of 25 strengths.

I also believe in Strenghts.  Let me HIGHLY recommend and plug Strenghts Finder 2.0.  Spend the $20 to do the assessment it’s WELL worth the time.  This helped me understand that being ‘competitive’ isn’t bad, it just need harnessed.  You really get to see your characteristics as strengths.  The whole point is that its easy to take what you are good at and make it great, rather than take a weakness and try to make it good.

So a list of 25 strengths was going to be easy for me.  I am hyper, jump right in to the task at hand.  I pull out a notebook and start rattling off strengths.  I get to number 11 and wrote down .  .  . clean.  Clean as in freshly showered.  Clean as in not like PigPen. 


Wow, what a personal strength.

I am among the people that shower. 

I am a person whose clothes are washed.

Hmmmm, I thought.  Did I mean that I was free of a sexually transmitted disease?  No, I did not mean that, but it’s true!

Now I started to think the whole damn idea of a list 25 personal strengths was stupid.  When I get mad and judgemental its an indication for me to take a closer look.  I took a pause.

Maybe I needed to slow down a little.  Maybe rattling off the list wasn’t the way to do this.  I didn’t put down “clean” for number 11, I jotted down, “quick thinker”.  I only have 22 items on my list.

I guess I need two more before I’m ready for a relationship. 

Awwww, screw the list.