Self-help bullshit: is “good” advice ruining your life?

This is a rant, and it’s going to get controversial. I might even upset you. You might believe in some of the ideas that I’m picking apart today – although I’m hoping to change that by the time you get to the end of this post. Note that I’m picking on only the ideas – not the people believing in them! But these self-help ideas symbolize everything that’s wrong with self-help today, I just have to get this out there.

Now, you might find yourself actually agreeing with me!
If you believe in being honest with yourself…
If you believe in accepting reality…
If you believe in optimizing your biology – and not just your psychology…

…then you’re probably going to have an easier time accepting everything I’m saying here – either way, let me know in the comments! But now, it’s time to get started!

1. Law of attraction

Just think about what you want – imagine it as realistically and in as much detail as possible. Think about it really hard and really often, and eventually life will give it to you. – The famous Law of Attraction, that many self-help gurus preach as if it were some sort of physical law of the universe. Some even go as far as to try to put some sort of scientific evidence behind it, using fancy words and phrases (I can almost guarantee you that these people don’t know the meaning of at least half of these words).

You won’t ever get anything from life magically, just because you spent some time thinking about it (although you do actually have a chance of getting lucky after one of your daydreaming-sessions – but still, that has nothing to do with you sitting around lost in your hopes and desires). Life doesn’t owe you anything, and you’ll never succeed just by imagining shit in great detail, hoping – or knowing, as the gurus would tell you – that you’ll get it someday.

Sure, if you imagine something you really want, that can – and probably will – increase your motivation to take action. Now – unlike daydreaming – taking the right actions will bring you closer to getting what you want. While there is no guarantee for anything, taking action to increase your chances is always the right call – especially if the alternative is daydreaming!

2. Stay positive

Oh, just stay positive – they said so wisely, like it was some sort of instant fix to all of my problems, no matter what they were. Again, bullshit!

I’ve always felt there was something wrong with being positive no matter what, but I’ve never been able to actually put it into words – not until I’ve read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson (I’ll put a preview of the book at the end of this post). My mind was completely blown: the book opened my eyes and showed me everything that was wrong with mainstream self-help – all the comforting (but fake) bullshit that almost every other book, course, or guru is preaching.

Now, I’m not saying that you should make it your mission to find flaws in everything you come across. And I’m definitely not advising you to be a negative person, complaining every time you open your mouth – draining the mental energy of everyone around you…

Quite the opposite! Be a generally positive person: try to find the good in everything you come across, and don’t be the kind of person who always has a problem to complain about. But shit does happen, and negative emotions exist for a reason! Instead of lying to yourself (and everyone else around you) by ignoring these emotions and living in an almost drugged state of constant – artificial – positivity, accept that there will be times when you genuinely feel bad. Instead of victimizing yourself in these situations – which is the more convenient road, I know – take responsibility and start reflecting on your thoughts and feelings. Analyze your situation to come up with an action-plan to fix it (surprise: you’ll have to take action too), or at least to learn your lesson for next time! Instead of complaining all the time – wanting someone to comfort you, validate you, feel sorry for you, or just put up with your shit altogether – either ask for advice, or invite them into your thought-process.

3. Willpower

Imagine for a second that you’re extremely tired, because you only got 2 hours of sleep…or that you didn’t take my advice on alcohol, and now you have an unbearable hangover…or that you have a terrible flu that’s keeping you in bed, or diarrhea gluing you to the toilet…

In this case, do you have any – and I mean any – intention of working towards your goals and dreams? Not to mention everyday things like going to the gym, studying for an exam, working on a project, or even making your own lunch (been there). When there’s something off with your body biologically, you need an insane amount of willpower to get shit done!

Now, imagine that you’re well-rested, healthy, and energetic. Would you find it equally difficult to get yourself to do any of these things? Would you need the same amount of willpower to make your lunch? Probably not… Sure, it’s still more comfortable to sit around, watch Netflix, and order pizza – but this time everyday tasks won’t feel like impossible missions: you’ll still need some willpower, but not nearly as much.

My point is this: we all have a limited amount of willpower to spend each day – once we’re out, we’re out. If you find that everyday tasks drain all of your willpower, leaving you nothing for when it comes to working towards your goals, many self-help gurus would tell you that you’re just a lazy piece of shit who doesn’t want it enough (maybe using slightly kinder words – the point remains). But they’re lying to you – and the worst part is that you’ll probably believe them, too (at least I know I did for a long time)!

My example clearly demonstrates that you need way more willpower to do just about anything when you’re sick or feeling bad – even making lunch might drain all of your willpower for the day. Well, if you experience brain-fog, fatigue, weakness, or the inability to focus on a regular basis, there could be some underlying biological cause. Addressed correctly, these can go away, leaving you not only healthier, but also pumped and ready to achieve your goals!

Now, everyone is different, there’s no one-size-fits-all! But I’ve found that – along with a healthy lifestyle, lots of sleep and water, fresh air, a good diet, and regular exercise – these supplements helped me cure my chronic demotivatedness and laziness the most:

  • This multivitamin ensures that my body gets all the micronutrients it needs. Especially vitamin-D – if you’re deficient, that will really fuck you up in more ways than one!
  • This CBD-oil made for athletes completely destroyed my stress that was weighing me down more times than I can count! Whenever I took it, I just went through my days having an I don’t give a fuck attitude, while having insane productivity and motivation.
  • If you can, throw in this greens supplement too – your energy-levels will be through the roof (and unlike most others, this one is scientifically formulated, and tastes good too).

I could go on-and-on, because there are so many useful supplements out there, but these three had the greatest effect on my motivation and energy levels – if you need a boost as well, these are the ones that will probably help you the most.

The key takeaway here is that you might actually be lazy, and have very little willpower – in that case, you should really start working on yourself psychologically. But more often, people who think they have weak willpower in fact have a chronic biological problem (even a deficiency counts) that they’re completely unaware of. This in turn drains their energy-levels – making everything in life require more of their limited willpower, leaving nothing left for them to move forward with their goals.

4. Imagine you’re already there

Almost 2 years ago, I went to a week-long intensive business-training. I learned a lot of new skills – setting goals, negotiating, closing the deal, and developing long-term partnerships – which I was very grateful for. But on the last day, something weird happened…
I stepped into the room a few minutes early, and I saw that the chairs were organized in a semi-circle, with one chair right in the middle, a dark-blue blindfold placed right on top of it. I found a spot, sat down, and waited to see where our last session – our grand finale – was going.
Our coach started off at exactly 9:00 am – like he always did. In the past few days, you’ve all acquired some valuable knowledge, and a whole new set of skills – he told us. These skills will change your lives beyond your wildest dreams – ok, now I was getting sceptical. I mean, sure, the training was good, but it wasn’t that good.
Soon enough, I found myself in the middle chair – where all of us would sit for a few minutes eventually – with the blindfold covering my eyes…
Now that you know these skills, imagine yourself in 6 months. Tell us who you are, what you have achieved, and how your life has changed… – I heard our coach say – Tell us what your days look like and what you’re spending your money on!
He wanted me to talk about the next 6 months like they’ve already happened – visualizing how good life was going to get, like I’ve already earned that life…

This technique is so common in the self-help community, and it’s so ridiculous and detrimental at the same time – it’s just telling yourself a guided lie to make yourself feel on the right track towards your goals! It’s spending your mental-money before earning it: you visualize your achievements, successes, and your lifestyle like you’ve already earned them, feeling the same emotions you’d feel if you’d actually earn them. But these emotions should be earned – at least if you want to live your dream instead of dreaming your life…

Using this technique, you’ll feel satisfied, and reassured that you’re on the right track (even if you’re as far away from the right track as humanly possible) – you’ll feel that achieving your goals is inevitable. But it’s just bullshit. Pure bullshit. Besides, these are not feelings you want to have anytime before you reach your goals…
If achieving your goals is inevitable, then why put in all the work?
If you’re already satisfied, then why get yourself in uncomfortable situations?
If you’re on the right track, then why come up with an action plan?
If you say – and feel – that you’ve already achieved everything (and even more), then why start working for something that you already have?
I think you got my point…

This post is a little controversial and it might upset some people who do believe in these self-help techniques. I’m OK with that – I just wanted to get my message out there. I truly believe that the day you start being honest with yourself, start accepting reality, and start balancing your biology with your psychology – instead of believing in self-help voodoo – will be the day you’ll start feeling truly happy and productive. If you agree with me, then help me spread the word by sharing this post! Also, if you enjoyed this post, make sure to follow Vikingfinity – I release content just like this twice a week, and you don’t want to miss them!
And now, I promised you a book-preview, enjoy 😉!

4 thoughts on “Self-help bullshit: is “good” advice ruining your life?

Add yours

  1. I actually agree with this, especially the part about physical limitations and thinking instead it must be a problem with my psyche. I was dangerously anemic for a spell there and blamed myself for my lack of motivation or interest or persistent weariness. The real lesson here is sometimes you do need to look outside of yourself when things are off. Don’t blame, but seek to fully and truly understand what’s going on. Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked it! I had a similar experience too, when I was just feeling tired and demotivated all day, unable to focus at anything for more than 20 minutes. I thought I was weak-willed and lazy, while being completely unaware of my physical limitations and being ignorant of my biological needs – ignoring my bad sleep, nutrient-deficiencies, and lactose-intolerance. No wonder I felt so bad!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read TSAONTAF and I am a huge fan of the book (okay I read 50 pages, but this was a good reminder to continue Haha). Anyhow, i agree with most that you said especially being too positive. But still, if somebody is a generally positive person it might be easier for them to overcome their obstacles because they have that hope within them and that drive than someone who is negative and complains all the time. And the LOA part, it is not just about visualization and belief, it is also about action. People who say that LOA is just believing are very wrong. LOA is about belief + action. But that belief thing gives you drive and hope towards your goals. I hope that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, a great book, you should definitely finish it! I agree with you regarding the positivity: my general philosophy is that you don’t need a reason to be happy, but you do need a reason to be unhappy – but at those times, the best strategy is to accept your circumstances and take action to make things better (instead of complaining or “faking” happiness)! For the LOA part, I think belief is necessary to have motivation, but it’s almost useless without taking action. My problem is that many people believe that things will magically happen just because they really want them to, or that they’re “entitled” to good things – and this is the part I want to point out as wrong!
      Thank you for your insightful comment, I think we share very similar opinions. Still, it’s always interesting to hear the thoughts of others as well 🙂!

      Like

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