On the self-help book front: I have read a beautiful quote about 'having autonomy' today. it went something like this: in any job you do, you need to have Autonomy.
what is autonomy? - I hear you thinking.
not having autonomy means, for example, saying things like: 'my supervisor/ teacher/ boss is going to like/ not like this report/ this work/ this chapter'; 'my family approve/ don't approve of what I do'; 'I can't stand to do things that don't interest me'.
if you have autonomy, instead you say things like: I like/ don't like how well I wrote this chapter; if my family doesn't like my job that's their problem; everything i don't already know interests me.
(the 'autonomy' line i copied word for word from the self-help book; the 'non-autonomy' bit I paraphrased freestyle. i guess this is because i am a lot better at saying non-autonomous propaganda to myself. just practice, i guess...)
alarming conclusion: I have not a shred of autonomy. I must start practising it.
Here is what the author suggests (note: i am unlikely to actually do this, but I will engrave it upon my brain and try and at least think about doing it...)
'Keep a notebook. Call it 'Autonomy Notes'. [...] On the left-hand pages write down things you felt and did that were not autonomous: 'I got hurt when my boss didn't appreciate my work', or 'I got resentful and deliberately dragged my heels on the filing job'. On all the right-hand pages, collect thoughts that will help you remember what autonomy is, like 'Knowledge belongs to me' and 'My life is bigger than any job', and so on. (Try looking up quotes in a book of aphorisms from your local bookstore.)
Now, each time you write about a nonautonomous feeling on the left-hand page, search for an encouraging thought [...] for the right-hand side.
[...] Autonomy means you're in business for yourself, no matter who you're working for.
(from Barbara Sher, 'I could do anything if I only knew what it was')