As an American living in Spain, it didn’t take me long to realize that most Europeans aren’t massive fans of the self-help world. In fact, the majority of my friends loathe it with the same intensity as they do most politicians.
For the longest time, to avoid the punches in the gut, I kept the dirty secret that I was pumping out self-help articles on a weekly basis to myself. But two years ago, after an article went viral, I came clean and I told my buddies about my little hobby.
At first, their comments stung and they couldn’t believe I was funding my life by telling other people how to live theirs. But over time I leaned into it and each week I began sending them not only my own articles but also those of my fellow self-help writing friends.
I was sure this little experiment would only last a month or two before they’d ask me to stop poisoning their inbox. But to my surprise, they really got a kick out of tearing them apart and it’s turned out to be one of the first things we talk about when we get together.
I’ve been relatively sober for 8 years, but my friends haven’t. So if you hear any hostility in their voices it’s the cheap beer talking.
- “This guy just wrote an article about the importance of learning from your mistakes and then quoted Elon Musk who’s been married like 37 times.”
- “Never stop pushing your comfort zone? Come on man. If that guy ever came to my house I’d make him sit on the floor and spank him if he complained that it was uncomfortable.”
- “Whenever people in Spain fail with a business they go into hiding. In America, it seems like they immediately become a writer or coach.”
- “Napoleon Hill? You sound like an ass in some of your articles. But at least your name isn’t Napoleon. Who names their kid Napoleon anyway? Christmas must be a joy in that house. ‘Hey, Napoleon come downstairs. Your brother Adolf is home from college!’”
- “If you read articles like ’99 Signs Your Life Is On The Right Track’ your life is probably on the wrong track.”
- “I skipped breakfast yesterday because my stomach hurt. Does that mean I can write an article about how intermittent fasting has changed my life?”
- “For as much as Americans talk about the importance of gratitude it sure seems like they fight a lot.”
- “Did this person really write an article about emotional intelligence and then turn around and talk about how much money they’re making during a global pandemic? It’s no wonder Trump’s President.”
- “Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t writing an article about how to be productive the opposite of being productive?”
- “How old is this kid? He looks like he’s 12 and he’s writing about effective decision making. Who does that? Here’s a good decision — stop telling people how to live their lives until you’ve lived yours. He probably still lives with his parents and gets angry when his mom forgets to make her famous guacamole for Taco Tuesday.”
- “Really? Is this guy seriously encouraging people to quit their job to travel the world? The beaches are closed, dude! This guy should put down his marketing books and learn how to read a room.”
- “Servant Leadership? What in the world is that? Does this mean my boss is going to start making me coffee?”
- “I don’t know who I dislike more right now, you for writing this article or the person that corrected your grammar in the comments.”
- “This article about what attractive people don’t do just made me feel extremely ugly. I thought the purpose of self-help was to help people feel better about themselves not worse.”
- “Of course people look up to (and I quote) Tony Bobbins. The dude’s like 8 feet tall. If he was short I’d be willing to bet people wouldn’t listen to a word he said.”
- “I’m sorry, but no matter which way you spin it for millions of people COVID-19 will not turn out to be a blessing.”
- “If you want to make it as a self-help writer use these 4 words as much as you can: ‘toxic’ ‘sabotage’ ‘mediocre’ ‘extraordinary’ and let’s not forget ‘the best version of yourself.’”
- “I tried to do all the things this article said I should do in the morning and my boss yelled at me for showing up to work at 3 PM.”
- “Is this dude really suggesting I ask people I’ve just met what they’re grateful for? ‘Hi, I’m Joan, what are you grateful for?’ I’m sorry, but that’s weird. This person clearly needs to observe more human interactions instead of writing so much.”
- “I don’t know about you but reading an article about how not to procrastinate seems like the very definition of procrastinating.”
- “This is a joke, right? Who does all these things? We have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world and I don’t know anyone who has a morning routine that doesn’t involve cursing as they get out of bed because they can’t find their cigarettes.”
- “Oh super, another person telling us they found themselves when traveling in Asia. You want to impress me? Move to Iowa and figure out a way to be happy.”
- “I don’t know any millionaires but I’d be willing to bet my parents apartment they don’t sit around reading articles about how to get rich from bloggers.”
- “The world would be a much kinder place if people stopped reading self-help articles and they thought about how they can help other people more.”
- “That’s the 19th time today I’ve read the phrase ‘Growth Mindset.’ I need a drink. This little experiment you have is over!”
So there you have it —25 things self-help haters have said about the advice of me and my fellow self-help writers.
I wasn’t expecting their comments to be as harsh as they were. But if you can’t laugh at yourself then what’s the point?