If self-care is done healthily, humbly, with good perspective, it not only cares for self but for others. If not, it can be used to isolate and justify selfishness, which harms ourselves and others. Self-help is similar. If it includes discernment of reaching out for help and realizing what is healthy and what is not, it can be helpful. But it often is not. It can be extremely damaging to ourselves and others. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, because when we really need help, we’re not often able or willing to identify the best options of what help actually is.
A quote has stood out to me for years: “Self-help is like having a broken hand and sticking it into a blender, thinking that will fix it.” Sure, we probably won’t go to that extreme, but haven’t you seen someone who is in an unhealthy place and keeps making it worse because of their own ideas of what will help? In most cases, those situations usually involve an inability to even self-diagnose well. If we haven’t developed healthy habits, we don’t have a lot to fall back on when we’re in a crisis.
Even with faith, if we’re not intentional about growing when we have space to breath, if we’re not willing to fervently pursue God to know his character and posture ourselves in his presence, we won’t rely on him during the tough times. We might call out to him or scream at him and feel as if he abandoned us, but will we know how trustworthy he is despite our circumstance? Will we remember in the dark what we learned in the light?
Self-help wisdom has a lot more to do than what we think is best for ourselves. The best way to help ourselves is counter-intuitively relying on someone who has much more wisdom than we can even fathom—and loves us enough to apply that wisdom well.