“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” We hear such types of sentences often, on YouTube, Instagram, in advertisements, and whatnot. Well, these so-called positive vibes only degrade our lives and are making us improve ourselves to death literally. Self-help is a billion-dollar company which is using the large self-conscious part of this generation especially teens and young adults. For instance, the word self-esteem has been prevailing for quite a few years now, 25000 published papers have been released about the same with the funding of approximately $10,000 funding for each and you can do the maths further. The standard scale to measure self-esteem is the Rosenberg scale and it has only fifteen items which are not enough to give accurate results. Famous psychologists like Jordan B. Peterson believe that these terms used are vague and misguiding. Most of the people in self-help, who God knows where they come from, are more market-driven and less peer-reviewed.
Why is it a bad influence?
The people who are really into self-help, are mostly those who are suffering from lack of self-acceptance and can reinforce perceptions of inferiority. For instance, let’s consider when they read a book that says ‘You can be anything you want when you find your passion’, might give them an idea to just wait for the right time and job, do nothing or leave the job for the career which they thought as “cool” momentarily and thus can be quite misguiding.
Self-help is actually a cool form of avoidance from any kind of problem in one’s life. People may come up with a genuine life problem, and instead of going to the root of the problem most of the books and videos and journals related to self-help, tend to provide a way to avoid the problem altogether. Like if anyone has obesity and can’t stop eating, alcoholic nature, mental health issues due to a breakup, they simply suggest being happy with who they are, to just practice meditation do yoga twice a day, ‘Just forget it, man. Remember, You are a BAD-ASS’, they still are unhealthy, can’t keep their jobs, going through the same mental and emotional pain. They are convinced to think all things will fall into place eventually without putting the groundwork in, to simply live their life momentarily, when in reality human beings are evolutionary creatures, constantly advancing, moving towards self-betterment. Animals naturally have a survival instinct, but we, humans have developed to such lengths we can predict what we would need to sustain ourselves and survive in the future, we cannot afford to only live in the moment all the time. So, this form of avoidance that self-help inflicts can be termed as analysis paralysis.
It basically diverts the human mind towards unnecessarily tough and unrealistic goals, and when the expectations are not met, he/she is going to fall back deep into the pit of the darkness of anxiety, depression.
Let’s think about it a little, how come life-long insecurity or years of anxiety or feeling of inadequacy can be cured through some exercise or some words of motivation? Neuroticism is hard to be changed or modified even the clinical psychologists need years to heal or cure a single patient who suffered through some trauma. Although I do not think that nothing will work, you’ll just have to bear the pain, NO, but when there are billions of dollars involved throughout a huge worldwide market just to make you feel better rather than to give you a solution, it’s far better to question and research about the intent and authenticity first, and not falling prey to something which is not even validated scientifically.
Yes, you read that right. Unlike some forms of self-help which show at least some scientific validity like mindfulness meditation, keeping tab of the kinds of stuff being done throughout the day, being charitable, most of the others which include universe manifestations, tapping, THE law of attraction can actually be considered as bogus.
Self-help slash self-optimization slash self-development on one spectrum preaches to be happy no matter what, to be satisfied with who you are, ‘enjoy the journey not only the destination’ but on the other spectrum says to always strive for self-optimization to find true happiness, to find the true meaning of living.
So, to be happy and okay with who they are at this point in time, or strive for more always to find your maximum potential to complete yourself, which one is it?
What should be the definition of self-help to us
As I go on blabbering against this self-help industry and how it makes us actually less happy, I do not believe that these are all useless terms and we should just throw away any such type of books or unsubscribe all the self-help or motivational YouTube channels, don’t get me wrong. There are certainly some genuine books and videos and channels which can help you and get you to work.
Self-improvement, quite literal in its meaning, is to enhance oneself, not to replace it. Similarly, to help yourself, to try and figure out the solutions to your problems on your own is self-help. Now, this is not supposed to be easy nor it should be. You can just live in the moment and be clueless in the early ages say as long as you’re young adults but what happens when you turn thirty. The same you can’t be as clueless then, you need to have a plan too, to get up to a decent socio-economic status. Otherwise, you’ll just be a man-child and nobody likes a man-child.
Be skeptical, be ruthless, have a plan. You can always enjoy little moments of happiness which is assured to come around walking this path. Nobody else can have all the solutions to the problems of life. Much like the concept of love, we just love the IDEA of self-development or self-help rather than actually helping ourselves. We fantasize about it, procrastinate instead of doing something about it.
P.s - You definitely can seek help from the very close and loved ones or medical help if you are facing any pathological condition.
Having said all of that, some books you may have a read instead of same old cringe self-help :
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss is a collection of all the life experiences, tips, and tricks used by famous personalities from all over the world who came to his podcast 'The Tim Ferriss Show'.
Another book is Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. This is a book that integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.