Self-Help Stuff That Works

Adam khan

Adam Khan,our guest speaker, talks about how to positively impact your level of happiness, your mental health, and your effectiveness in life.

David Roberts moderator.

The people in blue are audience members.

David: Good evening everyone. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to topic tonight is "Self-Help Stuff That Works". Our guest is Adam Khan, webmaster of a site right here at, and author of the book by the same name.

Adam has endured alcoholism, divorce, poverty, and what he calls "unworkable thinking habits and communication styles". He started reading self-help books when he was in high school and gradually applied what he had learned from them, changing his habits of thought. He says he became more confident in himself, less pessimistic, more persistent with his goals.

Good evening Adam. Thank you for being our guest tonight. How does one know that it's time to make some changes in their life? What benchmarks do you use?

Adam Khan: When you want to make a change, it's a good time.

David:What part of change is the hardest for anyone and why?

Adam Khan: All changes involve changing a habit of thought, and habits are difficult to form only because you have to stay with it for a long enough period for the habit to "take."

David:I would imagine that because making significant changes in who we are can be extremely difficult, it would also be hard to make them "permanent." Is that true? And how do we make "change" a part of who we are?

Adam Khan: By repetition. The most important change you can make is in your explanatory style.

David: What do you mean by that?

Adam Khan: When something happens you don't want to happen, or something doesn't happen that you really wanted to happen, you explain it. Also, everyone has their own style of explanation and that style does makes a big difference.

David: Can you give us an example of what you are talking about?

Adam Khan: Yes, let's say you are on a swim team and being timed by the coach and one of your times is very slow. So you explain it. One person may think, "I didn't get enough sleep last night." That's specific and changeable. It won't demoralize you. But another person may think, "I'm losing my edge." That difference in style makes a difference. In fact, an experiment was done and they found that the swimmers with the best explanatory style swam the next race faster after a setback, but the others swam slower.

David: So, what you are saying is that self-talk is very important.

Adam Khan: Not just self-talk. We're talking about what you say causes the setbacks. It is your world view. Your beliefs about your own power and to change it. You do not try to think positive.

David: Many people who come to are dealing with some psychological disorder, which usually involves some level of depression. They feel like things will never change. How would you suggest they deal with that?

Adam Khan: When you feel demoralized, write down something you are thinking about the situation. Then write down what you think about what you've just written. Argue with your own thoughts. Your explanatory style has evolved haphazardly. Sometimes when you see the thoughts you are thinking, you will be appalled. You don't really believe that, but the thoughts are so automatic, you've never had a chance to evaluate them. Keep doing that and your explanatory style will change. And your feelings of depression will change along with it.

David: If you are "down," don't you think it's difficult to have a proper perspective to help yourself?

Adam Khan: Yes, it is. That is why it is important to write it down. Writing gets the thoughts outside your head. It makes them stable, solid, and something you can look at objectively.

David: Here are some audience questions, Adam.

Paco: My head clouds up when I get in my anxiety situations, and all I can do is think of things that cause a smoke screen. How do I stop that?

Adam Khan: Stop it when you are not feeling anxious. You need to retrain your brain to think a different way in those situations. Insight won't do it. You need to practice thinking differently, not positive thinking, but anti-negative thinking. Read David Burn's book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Memorize the ten cognitive distortions and then do that exercise I just mentioned. Writing your thoughts down and then checking them for mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes in their thinking, especially when we're anxious or depressed.

David:Can you give us two examples of mistakes people make in their thinking, so we have a clearer idea of what you are referring to?

Adam Khan: One of the most common is overgeneralizing. Saying all or never.

Say I wrote a book and I tried to get it published, but it keeps getting rejected. I might think "Nobody wants it." That is an overgeneralization. Unless I've actually showed it to everyone, overgeneralization will make me feel demoralized unnecessarily!

Another example: I wanted to exercise today but now I'm going to bed and realize I didn't do it. I might think, "I have no self-discipline." That is almost surely an overgeneralization and disheartening.

David:Here's an audience comment:

Sylvie: I think you are saying that perspective is important. I know that when I go to a Gallery and get rejected, I am able to handle that because I think - one day they will change their minds when my work is in demand. I know my work is unusual and not for the masses.

bannera:Adam, I am manic depressive and deal with a nagging negativity within on a daily basis. It worsens when I am depressed and only lifts when I am fully manic. I am consumed so much with my inner torment I can't see those around me for who they are. Is it true that without self-love and understanding, you can't be with another person intimately? I want to be a better person, but how can I focus so it isn't just me me me all the time?

Adam Khan: I am sorry, I don't know how to deal with manic depression. I think it couldn't hurt anyone to straighten up their thinking as best they can. I wish I could help you more, but I'd be stepping outside my expertise.

David: Do you have any suggestions for loving or liking yourself better?

Adam Khan: I think having your integrity is very important. When you feel good about what you are contributing, when you're taking care of yourself, and when you are fulfilling a purpose you think is worthwhile, it is very good for liking yourself better.

David: I also know that a lot of people who visit here are discouraged because they have tried so many different things and ways to help themselves, but it's difficult to cope with a mental illness. How do you deal with that?

Adam Khan: It requires persistence, and that's why I think the first place to start needs to be improving your explanatory style, so you are not demoralized by setbacks. When you are trying to make changes, stick with one at a time, this is very important, and persist on it too. When you feel discouraged about your progress, check your thinking for mistakes. Weed them out, and your feeling of defeat will lift, giving you the determination to keep trying.

David: One thing may be that we are impatient. We want change right away. And when it doesn't happen, we quickly become discouraged.

Adam Khan: That is true. It is almost a form of greed. But for the most gain in the long run, concentration is the name of the game.

By the way, when we become discouraged, we need to destroy that right away. Discouragement takes away your will and motivation. See my chapter on Fighting Spirit in my book to learn how. Check your thinking. Make it true.

David: I have a few site notes before we continue: here's the link to the Relationships and Self-Help Communities, where you'll find information not only on "love relationships," but also co-dependence and the relationships you have with yourself. If you haven't been on the main site yet, I invite you to take a look. There's over 9000 pages of content. Also, here's the link to Adam Khan's site.

Here's another question, Adam:

Lauren1: My friend has said that she is "not worthy" of a man's love or attention. That just reminded me of a time when four of us gals surprised her with a birthday celebration and she was angry. She did not feel like she deserved to be in the "birthday spotlight." So, maybe she really is not great at receiving love from both men and women!!

Adam Khan: I would first look at her integrity, but I don't know if that is appropriate for you. I have seen a study on what actually helps people who are trying to help another friend, and advice was not it! The most helpful thing a friend can do is listen and ask questions, specifically to help the person clarify the problem. That may help your friend. I wish you luck.

dogd: I have an issue with always having to make a smart remark or always trying to make someone laugh. I am always playing when I go out on any occasion, and I feel I am just acting as if I am trying to impress. But it is not an issue of self-confidence, yet I am always the lonely one. What do you think?

Adam Khan: What do you want? What effect are you trying to cause with your actions? Maybe it's too complicated to get a dialog going with you, dogd, so I'll just speak off the cuff; take the time to think about what you want and then try to accomplish it. If you want acceptance from people, go about it. Learn. Don't be ashamed of anything you honestly want.

dogd:I just want them happy.

Adam Khan: You want them happy?


Adam Khan: Sit down and make a list of all the ways you can think of that you can make people happy. Pick the ones you like the most and that will make you feel the best, and do those.

David: That brings up a good point, Adam. If you aren't sure what your problem is, do you have a method to try and figure it out? I think some of us have difficulty sorting those types of things out.

Adam Khan: Good question. You mean the source of the problem, what is really the problem?

David: Yes, that's what I mean.

Adam Khan: It takes thinking. And the best way to think is to write. Write a question, and then write and answer. Give yourself time to do this. "Thinking" is the one thing that many people do not do and it can clear your mind so fast. But not daydreaming. You can't just do it in your head because you will start to drift. Spend an hour just writing questions of yourself and writing your answers. You'll get to the root of something.

elizabetha2:What advice do you have for someone who is 38 years old and still socially retarded?

Adam Khan: Believe it or not, I recommend the book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," by Dale Carnegie." But don't just read it. Actively and intentionally practice those principles. They are the "HOW TO" of social charm.

Drumboy: If a person has set goals several times, believing that they will be obtained, but has never achieved any of them, what do you think has occurred and what can be done to resolve it?

Adam Khan: The goals were either too high or the explanations for the setbacks were too demoralizing. You could approach it either way and it would probably change. Motivation is worth something, but if you can't prevent yourself from being discouraged. Self-motivation is not enough. That is because you won't feel motivated to even motivate yourself.

David: Another issue, Adam, revolves around insecurity. Not feeling good or sure about who we are. And that affects the outcome of what we try and accomplish. What would you suggest for dealing with that issue?

Adam Khan: Concentrate on anti-negative thinking first and master that "okay" feeling sure of who we are. First and most important, you need a purpose. In order to feel good about themselves, everyone must have a strong, meaningful purpose, and must be pursuing it. That's just human nature. It should be the central focus of your life. The thing that you come back to in the same way that when you meditate you keep coming back to the mantra. Then work on gaining whatever abilities you need in the pursuit or fulfillment of that purpose. If you are doing that, probably the problem of insecurity will vanish without ever being fought.

David: One other thing that has crossed my mind. Since you brought up the word "integrity" earlier, when you are being pulled in all directions by others --- family, friends, co-workers -- how do you end up being true to yourself? Doing what you believe in?

Adam Khan: This is important. You need solitude. It is something many of us have difficulty getting. But you need to get some. Go for long walks. Somehow find a way to be by yourself not doing anything but thinking. You cannot clarify for yourself what you really should be doing or what's right for you while you are in the presence of other people. Just their presence, even if they aren't saying anything, will influence you. That is also human nature.

David: I want to thank Adam for being our guest tonight. Here's the link to Adam's website. And here's the link to the purchase Adam's book: "Self-Help Stuff That Works." It's a great book. Short sentences. Right to the point!

I also want to thank everyone in the audience for coming and participating. I hope you found it helpful.

Adam Khan: It's been my pleasure.

David:Thanks Adam. Good night everyone.

Disclaimer: We are not recommending or endorsing any of the suggestions of our guest. In fact, we strongly encourage you to talk over any therapies, remedies or suggestions with your doctor BEFORE you implement them or make any changes in your treatment.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2007, February 14). Self-Help Stuff That Works, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Last Updated: June 9, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

More Info