Within the past few years, I’ve seen many books, articles, and videos on the topic of self-help. My initial belief was that no matter what, trying to improve ourselves is a positive sign of growth in our society. However, this might not be true.
(Just a disclaimer. I do in fact believe that self help is a good thing. In this post, I’m exploring some ideas surrounding the topic.
End Goal Assumptions
Some people assume that through self-improvement you can reach some kind of peak self. Maybe this “peak self” is always being happy. They gauge their success based on how happy they are. This is flawed because life is tumultuous. It’s filled with failure, success, happiness, and sadness.
Purchases = Self Improvement
When faced with something difficult, such as learning a language or working on our personal fitness, people like to buy things. Maybe this is a gym membership or a language book.
It’s a good thing that we realize that it’s important to make an investment in ourselves in order to accomplish our goals. What many people don’t realize however is the investment of time and work you have to put into in order to manifest those goals. Money is much easier to spend than staying committed. Does this sound familiar?
Helping Yourself vs Being Helped
I was wondering about what defines self-help. I believe a good self-help book teaches you how to help yourself. It gives you universally applicable ideas and methods that can practically “help you help yourself”. This is why I love the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It provides you with actionable ideas that you can directly apply to your life.
Steven doesn’t tell you what to do, he tells you what you can do. To me, there’s an important distinction there.
Lost Self Dependence
Why is self-improvement so popular? Is it because many people feel that they are not living life to their fullest potential? I believe the main reason people self-help is because they desire self-dependence.
We’ve been taught to be communal and interdependent. Have you ever heard, “Sharing is caring”? We’ve been taught the way to improve is to support each other. This lack of self-dependence in favor of co-dependence ironically makes it more difficult to actually support each other effectively.
This self-dependence was almost taken away when we were placed on a conveyor belt for throughout their lives. This conveyor belt started with school. You were told what to do and what to think. Suddenly you’re off of the conveyor belt, and you wonder. What comes next?
The Side-effects of Self Help
Are we dwelling on negative aspects of ourselves? Are we getting depressed just thinking about ourselves? Maybe we’re misinterpreting discontentment as something that needs fixing?
These are questions that I don’t have answers to.
How ironic and somehow meta! A self-help book analyzing the self-help industry.
I’m sure it’s an interesting book, but maybe you’d be better off discovering what you love in life and pursuing your own contentment, rather than sitting around and reading self-help books all day.
Thanks for reading! Good luck on your personal journey of self improvement. I’m sure it will be a wild ride. – Crew