Why You Should Take A Trial & Error Approach To Self-Help (And Stop Following Coaches)
Self-help has always been a concept I supported. I’ve always appreciated the thought behind self-help because that’s truly what I believe in. We are the only ones who can help ourselves. The only one who can help you is you. Some of us like to victimize ourselves and blame other people for our problems and so on. But the only person who can change your life is you. The only way to get the life you want is to go get it yourself.
So, that’s all well and good and I agree with all that. BUT, an entire industry has been built around this “self-help” concept.
The self-help industry
We’ve become so miserable and so out of touch with what makes us happy, that we are willing to spend billions of dollars for other people to feed us their version of happy. People started to see that other people were willing to pay cash money for this. So, gurus and life coaches and authors and regular people started telling us how to live our best life. They make us believe they have the secret. And they sell it and package it up in all these different/compelling ways and make a shit ton of money doing it.
And it’s not all bad. That much I know. But in the age of the Internet where we are constantly consuming all of the content, all of the time, it’s hard to sift through it all. When everybody and their mother is selling their own brand of self-help, it’s really difficult to figure out what actually resonates with you.
Our personal brand of happy
How can we know what our own brand of happy is when we’re being sold all of these other people’s brands of happy?! We don’t have time to try all the things and read all the books and buy all the classes and join all the masterminds. So, what happens? Well, for one, we’re left thinking we can’t help ourselves. We become overwhelmed. And, eventually, we say “forget it”. We admit that there’s no way we can do all of that. And if we can’t do it, we can’t be happy. Because there’s no way we can go to yoga for 30 days and eat vegan and cut sugar and see a therapist and believe in the secret and throw out everything we own and fly to that retreat in the Caribbean.
What’s worse? All of these methods contradict each other. It’s a cavernous spectrum of being told to do nothing and do everything all at once. So we, the masses, the general population, we’re left feeling lost. We know we don’t feel our best. We want to get better. We know we have the power to make ourselves feel better. But we can’t grab on to anything and get our heads above water. There are too many life rafts to choose from and it’s easier to just float around on our backs, trying not to sink.
We could just bunker down and take a long, hard look at our lives and realize what’s really making us feel this way. Find the root issue and solve it. But that takes way too much time and energy. We don’t have time to stop and re-evaluate, re-calibrate, re-set. We’re “too busy”. So, what do we do instead? I’ll tell ya! We don’t do a damn thing. We continue double-tapping pictures and following other lives that we want ours to look like. We fool ourselves into believing that we’re actively bettering ourselves by following these people and liking their posts and buying their books and stacking them up on our nightstands and taking a picture and hashtagging it and having them re-post it! That’s not self-help.
The effect of social media
Through social media and this quest for virality and all of that being injected into the self-help industry, the help isn’t happening.
The work isn’t being done. Because it does take a lot of time and patience and effort to put these tools in place and work them. I’ve always been a proponent for self-help and been about figuring out what works for me and sticking with it and falling off the horse and climbing back on again. That’s a normal part of life. Things work until they don’t. And when they stop working, it’s our job to figure out what does. It wasn’t until recently when I fell off the horse especially hard that I had to seriously re-evaluate the choices I was making and be like, “some of this just ain’t workin’ for me”. This isn’t helping me be better. “This” being social media. So I quit it.
And during my time offline, I realized that it wasn’t social media itself but my relationship with it. And since returning, I’m learning how to use this platform, this medium, this connection with people in a way that works for me and fits my own brand of happy. A lot of my opportunities live here online and it’d be silly for me to throw that away because I couldn’t figure out how to live here.
Adapt and evolve
I have to adapt and evolve. We all do, frankly. Because we as human beings weren’t built to consume all of this information all at once and decipher what’s worth keeping and what’s not. That filter in our brain hasn’t developed yet. So I’m trying to build one for myself. And I’m doing that through trial and error. Like I said, it takes a lot of time to try the methods, read the books, make the changes. But I want to do it. I want to try it because I want to be able to come back with some more definitive answers.
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