Excerpt from Self Matters by Dr Phillip McGraw, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Self Matters

Creating Your Life From Inside Out

by Dr Phillip McGraw

Self Matters
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2001, 320 pages
    May 2003, 336 pages

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Now you may be thinking, Dang, you're being hard on me, and you don't even know me. Give me a break here! How can you think you know all of this about me and my life when you haven't even met me?

Well, I don't think you really want me to "give you a break," and I sure hope you don't tune me out because I'm being so direct and telling you things that aren't fun to hear about. Anybody can tell you what you want to hear, and frankly, it would be a lot easier for me to do just that. But then this book would be just like a hundred others, and you didn't pick this book up so I would blow smoke at you. You bought this book because you care about your life and want to do as good a job as you can at taking care of you and everybody who means something to you.

I do think I know a lot about what may be going on in your life. I think so for two reasons. One, I lived it in my own life, and two, because I deal directly with thousands and thousands of people just like you and me every year, and I see it in their lives, their faces, and their eyes! They're too busy, too caught up in roles, too entrenched to consider themselves. You're probably thinking, Oh great! I thought I was doing fine until I bought this damn book -- now you're telling me I only thought I was happy. Thanks a lot!

Sorry, but as your parents always said, "You'll thank me for this someday!" The only difference is, this time it's true.

Just hear me out, and if when you finish you conclude that you are in fact happy and doing just fine, then great. At least then you will know it with the confidence of having audited your life, mind, and spirit. But again, I'm betting you're going to be shocked at what you find and ultimately be thankful that you got a wake-up call. And boy, oh boy, do I intend to give you a wake-up call, because I don't want you to sleep through your life like I did for ten years.


I think a lot of this losing ourselves has happened because our world has sped up to the point of being absolutely, out-of-control insane. It has sped up to the point of so overstimulating us with input from the outside that we can't or don't even hear any voices or messages coming from the inside. We have lost ourselves in the rush of the world.

Five hundred TV channels, the Internet, rental videos, two or three jobs all are conspiring to steal ourselves from us. Kids without a minute of unprogrammed time are racing from school to dance, soccer, drama, debate, one activity after another. We are on a merry-go-round spinning too fast for us to hold onto, and too fast for us to jump off of. In response, we "hunker down" and just try to get through it. If somehow you happened to have some quiet, unstructured, undemanded-upon time, you don't use it to focus on or deal with you. Instead, you get nervous; you panic and start looking for something to do or someone to tell you what to do. You're so busy doing stuff you didn't choose and probably wouldn't choose that you don't even think about what you do want, need, and care about anymore.

Here's some quick, "litmus test" logic for determining whether you are passively accepting or even choosing behaviors that ignore who you really are, or have been choosing behaviors and life circumstances that naturally flow from your true, authentic self.

If you are constantly tired, stressed, emotionally flat, or even depressed, worried, and unhappy, you are ignoring the authentic you and living a "go-through-the-motions" existence. If your life includes things you profess to hate, yet you continue to do them anyway, that, too, indicates self-betrayal. For example, are you always complaining about being overweight, yet you continue to be? Do you fail to exercise, go back to school, change jobs, confront your dead marriage, get a date, get a hobby, or deal with the pain of abuse or neglect that has scarred you from childhood? If so, you can't possibly be living in concert with who you were originally designed to be. If your life is dominated by constant anxiety and worry, but you don't do a damn thing to change it, that, too, is a bad sign. (My dad used to say that "worrying is like rocking in a chair: it's something to do, but you don't get anywhere.")

Copyright © 2001 by Phillip C. McGraw

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