If you are serious about spiritual growth and self help, then a group is practically indispensable in getting you where you need to go. It is a fundamental truth in psychology and self help that you simply cannot overcome your problems alone. You need people who have been where you are and who have gone through the struggles you likely will go through as well. Even if your problem is the inability to be alone, it is likely that you can get some help from other people who use to be afraid of this but who found a way to face their fear and are now completely comfortable with being alone.
A self help group is one of the best ways to make a serious change because the others in the group will keep you honest. We all know how to lie to ourselves and pretend as though we are making a change even when we are not. We run from place to place talking about how we want to change and reading every book in sight but we are experts at avoiding the true issue beneath the surface. Our biggest fears are buried deep inside and we look for any way to avoid them so that we wont have to face ourselves. Self help groups force us top be honest because everyone there can see through our lies and it becomes much harder to continue the same old behavior that we have been doing up until now.
As an example, it will help to consider some specific problems that people struggle with and eventually find help in a self help group. One of the most common of these is alcoholism. For years, alcoholics rationalize their problem with drinking and go through scores of relationships wherein they will do and say anything in order to continue drinking. Divorce, loss of job, loss of house and loss of family are all typical patterns for alcoholics even if these losses take place over the course of decades. Eventually, the alcoholic looks back over their life and realizes theyve been running from one simple truth. They cant stop drinking. Hundreds of people had already seen the problem in the alcoholic but they couldnt see it themselves. The last place on Earth they wanted to go was a self help group. Desperation and disaster finally leave them no other option and they fall into AA to ask for help.
Another common example that we see over and over in self help groups is the pattern of controlling behavior. People tend to avoid the fact that they are powerless over others and seek out relationships where they can control someone either through money or manipulation, always feeling that they are never satisfied with anyone they meet. They struggle with anger issues and feelings of rage when they dont get what they want and their marriages and relationships with their children suffer as a result. Finding themselves at the end of their rope, they may finally turn to a counselor or therapist for help but find that no therapist seems good enough for them either. Because of a problem that is simply too big to ignore, they may stay around the therapists office for several months and, if they are lucky enough to listen to an expert just a little, they may finally have a breakthrough where they can finally see their own self centered behavior up close. Therapists are trained to help a person see their own behavior in a way that is impossible for them to see on their own. Its a big difference between a person who can say they are a control freak and a person who can actually employ the courage to experience the fear of letting go. This is what others can help us to do and why self help groups are now so successful.
As much as we all wish we could do it all on our own, nobody is all-powerful and we all can benefit from an outside perspective once in a while. As the famous saying goes, You cant unscrew your screwed up head with your screwed up head! Having the humility to see that you need a little help might just bring you the courage to seek one out. Your spiritual growth will be increased tenfold when you follow through and make a self help group part of your ongoing spiritual progress.