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Book Review: Waiting for Jack: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie by Kristen Moeller

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Not to be confused with “You Don’t Know Jack,” Waiting for Jack: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie by Kristen Moeller traces the author's search for self-help and illustrates how she learned to stop waiting and start living. Moeller attended a seminar, led by the real Jack, Jack Canfield, in her search for authenticity and came away with more than inspiration.

Moeller now shares lessons learned along the way to a fulfilling life. In Waiting for Jack: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie, she takes on the whole being — Body, Mind and Spirit — and includes practices and stories from others along the way. She actually started a dialog with Jack Canfield and waited a very long time for him to answer her emails. She also became an author, speaker and an inspiration to others.

In her writing, Moeller reveals her intimate vulnerability and writes with an “I’ve been there” honesty readers can relate to.

“We are all Waiting for Jack — whatever or whoever “Jack” is. We falsely believe the gifts of life are just around the corner, that anywhere is better than here, that one day we will arrive and everything will be okay. So we don’t try; we give up. We sell out and we forget who we are. We are afraid to succeed, afraid to fail, and afraid to say we are afraid.”

Moeller suggests that many of us have a case of what Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) calls: “the heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment; a basic dissatisfaction with what is." If the journey within is our most important journey, the author wonders if we search for meaning at the expense of finding it.

Each chapter ends with five "What Are You Waiting For?" questions. You can use them to zoom in on relevant areas for you, where you're stuck, so you can find your own "inner Jack."

Moeller had to work through a lot of issues in her life to get far enough to seek change and improvement. The first "Jack" in her life was her counselor when she struggled with addiction and bulimia. Later, she got a masters in mental health and tackled all the issues necessary to turn her life around. Her honest writing can help others conquer their own demons.

“Waiting for what comes next has been our method of relating to the world, our learned way of being. We wait with the intention of  '… my life will be better when…'” Paradoxically, she says, we wait and try to get somewhere at the same time. We wait to earn more money, less debt, to get married, divorced, have children, retire. We wait for the next teacher, guru or therapist… then we will be happy.

It was only when a friend suggested Canfield’s book, The Success Principles, that the author was finally able to create a vision for her life.

We learn, along with Moeller, about relationship patterns, how to change our belief system, and about what’s called the “geographical cure.” … the illusion that life will be better when we get somewhere else.

Chapter Seven on money and scarcity details how Moeller changed her views on the value of money when she realized her behavior was rooted in a deep lack of self-worth. "We fall into a trap when we reduce our self-worth to the amount of money we have or objects we own." This perspective, while not new, may help others to realize the futility of waiting for the elusive jackpot.

Moeller’s concept of the way many of us avoid pain is to limit ourselves by living in a box:  the box of jealousy and envy, perfection, comparison, time, shoulds, rules or even spirituality.

“When we live in a box, we stay on autopilot, convinced we see it all. Our eyes may see, but our minds filter out what doesn’t fit with our beliefs … our vision is obscured by the confines of our box.” Living in hope, she says, is not living in the moment — It is the ultimate waiting."

Instead of waiting for Jack, ultimately the author realized she was waiting for herself: waiting to stop waiting, to stop seeking, and to stop searching. Instead she can now accept who she is and be grateful for the life she has.

Waiting for Jack concludes with six principles you can use if you ever find yourself waiting rather than living:

1. Simple actions can lead to extraordinary results
2. Either we have a past, or it has us
3. Your failures can become your foundation for success
4. Inspiration is an inner phenomenon
5. Support inspiration with action
6. Be a fierce disruption of the ordinary by honoring your commitments and embracing your humanity.

Why wait?

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About Helen Gallagher