Self-Help Media Versus the Real World

In another post I talked about what’s wrong with the self-improvement media industry and gave a rebuttal in the form of one word: action. Here I want to share a little about the cycle of self-help and how the real world can truly help us.

A few days ago I came across a podcast excerpt with former Navy SEAL, David Goggins. On it he was asked about self-help and its impact. He answered with one answer: struggle. He added that you can’t Google how to struggle and all those self-help books don’t talk much about it either.

Thanks, real world

Struggle, along with it’s companion action, is what truly elicits change for the better. We can do these five steps or adhere to those ten principles, but struggle will always change our own world.

Now, I’m not talking about horrible, near life-threatening struggle that beats us backwards with no chance of success. I’m universally referencing the conscious act of expanding our comfort zones, trying new things that scare us, and activating our incredible ability to struggle and come out on top a better person.

Everything worth having requires struggle. Think about almost anything you value and you’ll see that challenging your comfort zone is directly involved. Whether it’s studying for hours on end for a college final, training your butt off to diet and lose weight, or learning a new language. All of those things require us to shift our current schedules, omit the comfortable fluff in our lives, and put forth some of our never before seen abilities to persevere.

The cycle of profit

The self-help industry doesn’t want you to apply action or struggle. They want you to take their shallow advice and feel just a little bit better. That fleeting good feeling will hopefully funnel you right into their next book or course. You then get another good idea or two and then buy more and more.

The goal is to get you addicted to their products so you keep coming back and spend more money.

Are there good self-help books out there? Of course, but so many keep recycling the same messages over and over. They either reorganize steps, add profanity (a current trend), or (for men, specifically) package it into a masculine/macho style appealing to your “alpha male.”

Don’t fall for it.

How to start

Always start with action. Embrace the struggle. Rinse and repeat. You’ll learn more with those three steps than you will any book. Life, the real world, or whatever you want to call it is the best teacher.

I also must mention the power of a certain group of books: biographies (to include autobiographies). A biography is a form of history. Reading about others’ struggles, how they mustered resilience, and overcame obstacles is invaluable. They’ll provide motivation for you to continue your journey.

Generic self-help media tries to sell a one-size-fits-all template in prepackaged junk food labeling.

Act, struggle, talk to real people, read good biographies that inspire you, and learn from your experiences. Period.

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2 thoughts on “Self-Help Media Versus the Real World

  1. Nice real take on self-help. I think you’re right that there’s some good self-help out there, but there’s a lot more bad stuff.

    I noticed the trend of profanity a few years ago. It really made me wonder why, and I figured it was a fad. Like hyperbole and click-bait headlines, book titles get censored explitives because they catch attention and maybe more sales.

    Can the profane really help? Maybe? Gussied up gutter-talk doesn’t necessarily equal wisdom.

    Anyways, now I’m gonna bust out the old mantra…no pain, no gain.

    There I said it. It may not be eloquent. It may be trite. It maybe could be spiced up with an f-bomb. But the message is real. Struggle can be good; often it is.

    When stretching muscles, I’m taught that you want discomfort, not pain. Pain signals injury. But discomfort means the stretch is working. It’s like you said, you don’t want severe struggle that debilitating, you want struggle that is healthy resistance.

    Anywho, thanks for spurring my thoughts.

  2. Hi Jason! Yes, all great points. On the issue of profanity, yes, definitely a fad. Once one came out the market got flooded. I’m no prude (with 21 years in the Air National Guard how could I be?), but I don’t want to read it everywhere. There’s a sense of professionalism that goes into relaying important messages. Plus, I have a child and what to set a good example.

    With that said, I was glad to come across a clean copy of “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins.

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