MOTIVATION? MOTIVATION MY ASS…
Self-help and why you should think twice about it.
I see a lot of people go through personal crises and undergo the phases of depression, anxieties, and insecurities. A popular trend I’ve noticed is how a lot of these people resort to reading self-help books as part of their “improve on me” mindset.
Long story short, after reading a hundred self-help books, nothing positive has changed in the lives of these misguided people. Sure, they feel like they know better, but they still aren’t living the dream life they’ve hoped. Here is why:
Self-Help books are addictive.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that self-help books are like drugs or alcohol. When you drink alcohol, you get a sense of relief from all the stress and anxieties bothering you. The moment you wake up the next day though, you feel like shit, not just because of a hangover but because you realize nothing changed and you are still at your shitty situation.
The exact same goes with self-help books.
The reason why we love self-help books so much is because of the “high” our ego gets imagining what life would be if we could be the person that the book envisions us to be: confident, strong, rich and popular.
After every page flipped, you get lost in a high of imagination, forgetting the fact that you are actually not strong, rich nor popular. The book just helped you forget for a while that you are in a situation you don’t want to be in.
After you have read a pile of self-help material, you may believe you are now more confident, smarter and more informed, but in reality, nothing has changed in your life. Why? because you chose to stay in your room and read self-help than go outside into the real world to actually do something progressive in your life.
Furthermore, reading self-help on a consistent basis will further reinforce the idea that “you need help” even though you are perfectly fine.
A lot of people like to self-diagnose themselves with a lot of mental illnesses like OCD, Depression and alike. The truth is though, most of these people are just too exaggerating and don’t have anything wrong with them. The mere fact that they believe there is something wrong with them is what’s causing all this despair.
Most Self-Help books are written in the same, generic way.
If you’ve just gotten into self-help and have read about 5 or more self-help books, you would’ve noticed that they always give the same sorts of advice:
- “Nothing in the world is good nor bad, it is your mind that creates the meaning”
- “Your ego is the bad guy”
- “You need to be present 100% of the time”
- “Ignore your emotions because your brain is plastic”
- “Go meditate”
- “Don’t sleep, instead use it to make more money”
- “Affirm yourself every single day”
Does all of this sound familiar?
One reason why the self-help industry, with all its books, seminars and coaches is a million-dollar machine, is because almost anyone can be a part of it. Writing self-help is probably the easiest genre of books to write since all you need is common-sense and that repetitive format of advice I mentioned above.
Not to mention, a lot of this advice is complete nonsense. Biologically speaking, a human being cannot be present 100% of the time. If you are like that, then you are an animal. Sure meditation is a big boost to wellbeing, especially if you have to prepare for your exam or have a sports game coming up and need some focus, but doing it obsessively as a way to “fix yourself” as the books suggest is only going to make you hate yourself more.
To add to this, what if I don’t want to be rich nor popular? What if I just want to live the simple life and be happy as is? The problem with self-help books is that they create this “ideal” of what you should be, even though it is not what you want.
One more thing, suppressing your emotions will only make them haunt you forever. You need emotions because they are biological signals that help dictate positive change. For example, you stub your toe and rage about it, This teaches you to be more careful and attentive next time. If you are lonely right now, that emotion you are feeling is telling you to never do what made you lonely in the first place.
If you follow what the self-help tells you, then you would not follow your emotions and create any positive change whatsoever.
To add to that paragraph, remember that not everything is your fault or society’s fault. Toxic people blame everyone, while self-loathers blame themselves. Remember that every human on Earth has different experiences and before you start pointing fingers on who is to blame for your situation, take some time to think about it first because not everything is black and white like what the self-help books suggest.
Blind Affirmations are A Waste of Time
A common aspect of self-help books is that it always tells us to drown ourselves in affirmations such as:
“I am richer today” or “I deserve all the love in the universe” and “I am beautiful”, being the most common ones out there. But in reality, these affirmations are complete B.S.
The problem with affirmations is that if a person who doesn't believe in it says it, then that person will be further reminded of the EXACT OPPOSITE of the affirmation he/she is saying. While that person is saying “I am beautiful” in the mirror, deep down inside he/she knows that that isn’t true. Affirmations do nothing but reinforce the sense of self-loathing in a person.
A truly beautiful/rich/successful person does not need to prove it.
Think about Bill Gates. Does he drive around town with a Ferrari and wear full branded outfits? No. He doesn’t need to flex and prove anything, because he is already rich. In a similar vein, why are there so many try-hards on social media posting vein photos of themselves? Well duh, because they feel insecure deep down, and want to prove to the world that they are indeed worthy of attention.
Again, a truly beautiful/rich/successful person does not need to prove it.
Self-Help is a waste of time.
I forgot to mention, most self-help books are only backed up by pseudoscience and a bunch of low-quality studies that aren’t worth your trust.
Instead of reading this stuff, why don’t you do something more progressive and that you actually enjoy? Go invite your friends to a movie, play sports or maybe a video game that you like. Get exercise. Engage in a new hobby. Do something stupid. Dance the night away.
There is nothing wrong with you…
Self-help is all about being self-fish and being completely selfish will make you a miserable shit of a human being.
The only self-help advice you will ever need is:
Accept yourself for who you are, no matter how much of a loser or failure you think you are. Own it. You do not need to “improve yourself” just so you can fit into society more and succeed. The only thing that truly matters is that you live for happiness and not society’s happiness. Self-help will always tell you to change something within you, but the mere attempt to change yourself is the problem.
Remember to make love, and not war — learn to empathize, forgive and support. Be grateful and thankful for all the experiences you had in life — nobody else in the Universe will have had the same set of experiences as you. Nobody else in the universe also has the same intellect and personality as you. Remember to bring positivity to the table, and never forget to laugh and smile because these are the things that define how good a person can be.
The moment we stop caring about trying to change who we are to what is more “acceptable to society”, “trendy” or etc…, then we can live truly free and meaningful lives. Instead of looking down on ourselves for not being the person we envision, we must embrace that. Embrace your inner self, be comfortable with it and you will be happy.
The moment you die, petty things like the type of car you drive, the amount of money you have, how popular you are, how successful you are and etc. Will not matter at all.
The only thing that matters is how well you’ve lived, loved and laughed.
- Rosen GM (1987). Self-help treatment books and the commercialization of psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 42, 46–51.
- ^ Rosen GM, Glasgow RE, Moore T, & Barrera M (2015). Self-Help Therapy: Recent developments in the science and business of giving psychology away. In SO Lilienfeld, SJ Lynn, & JM Lohr (eds), Science & Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology (2nd edition). New York: Guilford Press.
- ^ Rosen GM, & Lilienfeld SO (2016). On the failure of psychology to advance self-help: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as a case example. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 46, 71–77.
- ^ Schulz, Kathryn (2013–01–06). “The Self in Self-Help: We have no idea what a self is. So how can we fix it?”. New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. ISSN 0028–7369. Retrieved 2013–01–11. […] the underlying theory of the self-help industry is contradicted by the self-help industry’s existence.
This is the original “Stop Reading Self-Help Books” article. All the other extremely similar articles you see floating on the internet are plagiarisms of my work. By reading this, you are supporting small independent writing.