Self-help gurus have been stealing your attention, money, and time for much too long. It seems we humans are always in search of something to make our lives better, and the gurus are more than happy to regurgitate old information and package it as new for you.
A number of gurus who are doctors and therapists are helping patients help themselves, which is good. But the danger comes when the charlatans try to present themselves as professionals. The good message of well-meaning doctors gets diluted, and there is a danger for people trying to use a one-size-fits-all solution.
I’m not the only one who has issues with the self-help industry. Let’s look to science and Gerald M. Rosen. In his study where he criticizes therapists using self-help to replace psychotherapy, called “Self-Help Treatment Books and the Commercialization of Psychotherapy,” he says:
“Although the benefits of self-help books may be great, a number of risks exist as well. Do-it-yourself books have few, if any, provisions for arriving at a reliable diagnosis; they lack provisions for monitoring patients’ compliance with instructions, and they have few or no provisions for follow-up.”
Have you noticed the message of most self-help “experts” seem to be the same? There is a reason for that. There is a formula peddled to budding gurus that almost guarantees a hefty payday for someone without many scruples and a winning personality.
I’m going to blow the lid off the self-help industry and reveal their secret formula once and for all:
- Read every self-help book, magazine, and website you can and write down the core principles of each. Figure out each guru’s “secret sauce” and create your own spin on it.
- Buy a thesaurus.
- Create a new system by changing a few keywords and phrases of the similar formulas you find, so it doesn’t sound like everyone else’s magic formula.
- Either write a book or hire a ghostwriter to create the manifesto for your new system.
- Create a live event or membership website. This will be your bread and butter, so set the price high. Suckers think they are getting something valuable and won’t even balk at the cost.
- Get a B-level celebrity to promote your ideas and system (bonus points if you get Oprah to read your book).
- Spam every potential customer in the world on Facebook and email.
- Make a ton of money and start creating a new system teaching people how to make money being a self-help guru.
Believe me when I say most gurus follow the exact or a similar formula. It’s time we stopped falling for the same old spiel. We don’t need more of the same old thing. At this point, we’ve absorbed enough helpful information in our lifetime to fix whatever is wrong with us.
We don’t need the gurus.
“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.”George Carlin
Too much noise
Think about how, especially in 2019, we’re bombarded by information every day. Multiply that by your whole life, and what do we have?
What we have is information overload.
You have inside of you all the information you need to solve any problem. You have in you the secrets to being happy and fulfilled no matter what you are doing with your life.
All you have to do is look for the answers and trust your instincts.
We already have everything we need
Again, I’m willing to bet that when faced with a problem, your gut immediately tells you everything you need to know.
Why don’t we trust our gut?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but my problem is I don’t trust my instincts, and I don’t have the confidence to believe in myself 100%.
I figured out I have to trust myself.
The main selling point of the self-help gurus
Most of the movers and shakers in the industry make money by convincing you they have the answer you’ve been looking for your whole life. They offer a way that you — even if you’ve failed everything else — can have lasting success in a few simple steps.
People like you and I are willing to buy whatever snake oil they offer to find the secret to having a good life and being successful. All we ask is that we don’t have to work for it. We don’t want to break a sweat.
We are lazy.
The self-help gurus are giggling all the way to the bank because they know we won’t even finish the book we just bought before we demand another.
Isn’t it time we stopped bankrolling the guru’s lives and started doing something now to make ours better?
But what if you’re confused as hell, and you don’t know where to turn? What if your gut is telling you nothing?
I have something that might help.
The secret I’ve learned
I’ve read every self-help book I could get my hands on. I’ve paid for masterminds and joined membership sites. I’ve used the money I needed for bills to access information I thought I needed to change my life.
I’ve bought into their idea of what success is and tried to picture myself finally getting everything I wanted. I thought my life would be complete if I had what they had.
Don’t do the same thing I did. Here is all you need to do to reach your definition of success and find fulfillment:
- Decide, once and for all, that you want your life to change
- Make a simple plan
- Take immediate action and put in the work. You can’t be lazy
- Improve a little each day
I make goals for myself. I measure my wins and disappointments daily. I adjust and make new and more challenging goals.
If it seems simple, it’s because it is. To paraphrase William of Ockham, “all other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.”
I’ve been equally hard on everyone who gives out self-help information, but the truth is that not everyone is a bad apple. I have gotten great advice over the years. Almost everyone has at least one good idea that would be worthwhile to learn.
Again, the most important thing is you already know everything you need in life anyway.
What I’m saying is you need to stop always looking to others for the answers. We already have the answers inside of us — we just need to trust our gut and make a decision. If we make the wrong choice, start over and try again. Commit to yourself, and there’s nothing you won’t be able to do.
Stop letting the gurus take your time and money. If you need motivation, get it for free. Stop trying to solve your problems with your dollars because the only ones winning are the self-help gurus.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again:
We don’t need the self-help gurus!
You’ve got everything you need in your mind and heart. Search for it. When you find it, take action!
You are all the guru you need!
This article also appears on Medium.