Self-help: the bitter truth

What if I were to tell you that, as a man, if you’re happily married then you failed? You betrayed your biological purpose.

The right strategy is to have as many partners as possible, to ensure the passing down of your genes. To have as many children with as many different women as possible.

Would you agree with this statement?

It depends, I guess.

That’s a simplistic truth. Most people think in simplistic truths, which is sad.

Because, yes, you can adopt that strategy and have as many partners as you can. But it’s not the only way. You can also take a different approach, and choose to be in a life-long monogamous relationship, and do your best to raise your kids in order to ensure they have the best chance at survival.

That’s the nuanced point. The almost-paradox.

What I mean to say is that there’s always more than one way to do something, and that the truth is never simple.

But what about self-help? What about all the gurus and their teachings? What are the simplistic truths they preach?

Well…

1. If you want it, you can have it.

People read Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and then sit on their couch, watching TV, eating popcorn, but trying to attract wealth into their lives and hope a million dollars will materialize on their coffee table.

No. It does not work like that. There’s no magic law of attraction.

Yes, you do need to want it in order to get it. Pretty simple. I don’t suppose you’ll ever go to sleep without wanting to do so. Even though it might happen that you accidentally fall asleep, which stands testimony to live’s chaotic nature.

The simplistic truth is this: you want it bad enough, you can have it.

The nuanced point is: you want it bad enough, you’ll probably have it. If you work hard for it. If you adapt to your environment, if you improvise, if you are willing to learn from your mistakes. And, even then, even if you have the best strategy and do your best, it’s still possible that you can fail.

This is something that no one teaches you. It’s possible to fail even if you do your best, because life’s unpredictable, because stuff sometimes happens for no reason at all.

2. Positivity and optimism are the keys to success.

A lot of so-called self-help experts are trying to teach bits and pieces of Eastern Philosophy, and adapt them in a way that makes sense to most people.

Just think happy thoughts, and it will all be okay.

It’s not.

Life is suffering. And you can only choose to accept it or not.

But, while I do understand that being in a good mood is important, it’s not the only emotion that you can use to get what you want from life.

It’s not as if some terrible, terrible people ever managed to build some of history’s largest empires, no?

How did they do it then?

Because anger is just as powerful a motivator as anything else. You wake up angry at yourself, because you could be dominating. You could be doing a lot more than you currently are. You could be earning more, enjoying more success, being more influential…

You could be conquering the world, yet you are not doing so. This pisses you off to the point that blood is boiling through your veins. And then you act.

Sadness can make you act…

Didn’t it ever happen for you to write a great post when you were sad? Let the feeling feed your words?

All emotions are meant to make us act. Depression is meant to keep us out of harm’s way. Anxiety to make us act when there’s some form of danger.

And we fail because we never act, which leads me to my next point.

3. You need to act.

You ruin your life by not acting. Here, that’s self-help advice worth at least a thousand bucks.

ACT.

If you want to change something, you need to stop thinking, stop planning, and just act. The more you act, the more you change your state, your emotions, your life…

If you’re sitting at home with a bunch of cats, crying yourself to sleep because you’re single, maybe it’s a good idea to go out and meet people. Who knows?

If you are unhappy with your weight, just start moving. That’s a good idea.

Just do something.

Listening to self-help gurus only makes you feel better for a short while. Like a drug, you need your fix. You’ll need more. And more. And that shit can cost you a lot of money.

You only need to act in the direction that you want to go. At whatever speed you’re capable of.

But then again, self-help gurus wouldn’t be earning that much money if they only gave this advice to people. Not enough for a three day seminar.

4. It’s more about you than you realize.

Why else would it be called self-help then?

You need to help your own self. Social conditioning can dumb you down to the point that, yes, you believe you can’t change who you are or where you are at in life, but that’s possible only if you change your mindset.

It’s all you, you, you…

We’re all self-made, but only the successful among us ever admit it.

If you expect Tony Robbins to change your life, you’re going to have a bad time. After you’ve paid a ton of money to attend his program. Then you’re just going to blame him for your problems…

This is the funny thing about self-help aficionados: they need more self than they need help. They need a stronger sense of self, more self-awareness. They need to stop being like some leaves in the wind.

They need to know who they are, and what they want. The how kind of takes care of yourself as long as you keep acting.

5. Failure is the default.

The self-help industry has long capitalized on the broken and the downtrodden. The failures. The ones who feel like they live in a world that’s not to their liking.

Life’s tough.

Imagine me walking on a stage to deliver these lines.

Life is pain.

The world is ultra-competitive and tough, and it will beat the crap out of you for no particular reason, other than the fact that it can.

It honestly doesn’t make any sense.

Ever had something bad happen to you and you kept asking why? Maybe in the form of a prayer, maybe when staring at your own reflection in the mirror. Why me? Why this? Why now?

Why, why, why?

And you know life’s only answer: Why not?

If something bad can happen, it will happen. If something good can happen, that will happen as well.

Life is pain, and everyone who is telling you otherwise is trying to sell you something.


I’m sorry to break it to you, but there’s no magic formula, no secret how-to guide.

Life is all about sweat and blood and tears. Life is all about how you face failure, adversity, rejection. Life is all about being strong enough to overcome obstacles.

And life certainly does not make much sense. There are paradoxes everywhere you look. There are things that we know nothing about, and we’ll probably never figure them out.

Life is all about the experiences you have. Good and bad. And how you choose to react to them, what you choose to learn from them.

That’s it.

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4 thoughts on “Self-help: the bitter truth

  1. Yes. I know. That’s what I think I’m here for? Or what I’m trying to advocate. I just have no idea if I’m doing it correctly… Because… knowledge should be free. Knowledge should be valued. And people should get off their high horses and just love and accept. But the only thing people value in this world is money. So… I’m not advocating for anarchy. That’s not right. But I know it will likely follow the change of the status quo.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting concept. At one time self help books flew off the shelf. Most people became more depressed after trying help themselves it didn’t work.
    I have a theory about this.
    One is to recognize you have a problem then admit you need help with it.
    The next step is tricky. What professional do you seek? Do you look through the Phone book? Ask friends for referrals?
    What if someone suggests an alternative solution? Do you go with the holistic suggestions?
    It boils down to this. How bad do you want a solution and what are you willing to try to fix it?
    If you don’t believe in the solution you’re stuck with the problem.
    I see people become so bogged down trying to make a solution fit them instead of doing what’s required.
    Take losing weight. I don’t care what your reason is. Change your eating habit and move more. It may take more than that with some people but if your first response is That doesn’t work. It means you’ve already made up an excuse and believe it over the truth.
    Ok I could go on but I’ll stop here.

    Liked by 1 person

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