Re: Self Help addiction
Okay, let's start from the beginning. In philosophy, the question comes up of how you can be certain of anything at all. This is important because certainty is necessary to plan or build anything. Basically what it comes down to is that you create models of the world around you. These models let you make predictions and you test them to see if you get the expected results. Then you ask other people if they see the same things you do. That's how we become certain of things.
Any crackpot can write a book and proclaim that it is the most excellent/spiritual/effortless/universal guide to happiness. However, real wisdom is not found in one place or by one self-labeled guru; you see similarities in many different places.
If I were to look at the shows Tabatha Takes Over, Restaurant Impossible, Bar Rescue, and Hotel Impossible, there would not appear to be much overlap. However, they all emphasize cleanliness and an inviting atmosphere. They all talk about attracting new patrons and having products that fit the people in that area. Often, they talk about having relationships with other businesses. You could include shows like The Profit and see overlaps in terms of loss of identity, not concentrating on what is profitable, as well as the need for resources. When you see things popping up in more than one area, you realize that these things are common values and practices. In other words, these are things you need to know to have a successful business. These things fit within the philosophical standard of modeling, testing, and consensus.
Real self help advice is not nebulous. It isn't something poorly defined or hard to understand. It isn't something so vague that it can apply to anything or everything. If you have seen Restaurant Impossible then you know that Robert doesn't give vague criticisms about the food. He doesn't say that the food fails to nurture his inner need for self fulfillment. He is specific: it's overcooked, dried out, not seasoned, over seasoned, too watery, too oily, or not fresh. Self help should be specific and concrete. Notice too that when he suggests new recipes, the other people taste them and agree. Self help when demonstrated should be something that other people see and agree with. I use the above shows as an example because they are about fixing things. And, generally when people want to be happier in their life or relationship, there are things that need to be fixed. The steps of fixing things tend to be similar. But notice that there is no 12 step program for fixing a business. The AA model may have become a cliche' standard in self help circles but it isn't a real or valid standard. Real life simply doesn't conform to 12 steps.
If you and your intended were to write down what makes you happy then there should be a decent amount of overlap. Then you need to fit in terms of behavior. There isn't one standard for this because something that is a problem in one area can be good in another area. I recall one episode of Restaurant Impossible where a woman was not a good waitress because she spent too much time talking to the people at the tables. So, they made her the hostess; that job suited her personality. It could be difficult if both of you were timid, both were socially awkward, both had tempers, both were competitive, or both were disorganized.
So, now we've run into a problem. We end up with weak, folk wisdom like "Birds of a feather flock together" and "Opposites attract" which tells you nothing. "Strike while the iron is hot" or "Fools rush in". You can't get much out of that either. So, do you need someone who is just like you or someone who is complementary to you? In terms of things that make you happy, you need someone similar to you. However, in terms of process oriented things, you ideally don't want someone who shares your weaknesses. Processes are things that have to be done that are not related to leisure or hobbies or happiness. Cleaning in a restaurant is not directly related to cooking but it has to be done along with ordering and staffing. You could be a very talented chef but fail because you run out of supplies, the place isn't clean, or your staff isn't being managed. The same thing happens in a relationship. You have to make certain that the necessary things like cleaning, shopping, budgeting, maintenance, and cooking are taken care of without putting an undue burden on one person. You make a list of the jobs and how long they take and then you divide them so that they get taken care of. These foundational things have to be addressed so that you can enjoy the things that you are passionate about or that make a relationship fun.
So, what if you are already in a relationship with someone and you are both weak in a necessary process? A relationship isn't like a business where you can fire someone and hire someone more qualified. Actually this does happen when people get divorced or breakup. But, short of that, people can adapt to some extent. You might try studying to learn more about it, then practicing to get better at it, and either trading off or doing it together if both of you dislike it.
So, what if the weakness involves something internal to the relationship rather than paying bills or doing the shopping? When you are flying an airplane, many things are important and overlooking them can be disastrous. This is particularly true when you are busy getting ready for takeoff or landing. People can overlook simple things like turning on the fuel or putting the landing gear down. So, it is common practice to use checklists. If you run through every item on the checklist then nothing is overlooked. If there is something important with your partner that you can't remember there is nothing wrong with having a checklist. Also, when practicing dance steps or music, you go through the steps one at a time, slowly, awkwardly. It doesn't sound like music or look like dance at first but it gets better. If you are bad at something with your spouse, then go through it as slowly and as awkwardly as you need to and it will get better.
But what if what you need to do is scary? There is a difference between things that make you uncomfortable and things that can really hurt you. I had to take speech class in college and that was pretty scary. The first time I gave a speech my leg started to shake so I shifted my weight more onto it so that it would stop. It wasn't easy but I got through it. In contrast, there was a young woman in my class who had already taken speech and dropped it twice. She dropped it again. The class was required so at some point, she either did finish the class or she didn't get her degree. I wouldn't really want to hold a tarantula in my hand, but I would do it if it meant saving my relationship. You work on it and it will get less scary over time.