When Self-Help Isn’t Helpful

Self-help is a big business, and it’s not surprising that advertising promises “amazing results!” for all sorts of self-help schemes and products. The challenge is how to separate out the stuff that actually works from what doesn’t.

I’m actually a big fan of self-help for the most part, but the industry is rife with BS and big promises. Self-help often fails, and sometimes it fails in a big way. How many people do you know (or perhaps it’s yourself) who bought some sort of expensive “abundance” program only to still have financial problems after the big purchase? (Or maybe they got worse!)

I put myself in major credit card debt in my 20s for one of those courses, and years later, I’m still learning the lesson that financial problems can’t be cured by wishful thinking, especially if you aren’t taking care of basic things like record-keeping and paperwork.

For self-help to be truly helpful, we need to balance it out with concrete action and common sense. Positive thinking will only get you so far. Bad habits must be broken, and better habits must take their place. Unpleasant realities sometimes need to be confronted. Self-reflection often entails confronting the dark parts of the soul.

Chirpy feel-good platitudes and empty promises won’t fix a broken life. But even if you do find a tool or product that genuinely helps, usually it won’t be just that one thing that fixes “everything.” Through trial and error, a path to healing can be found, but it often involves multiple tools and techniques. Diet, prayer, exercise, mental discipline, and all sorts of other approaches can make a difference. That, along with realistic expectations that change often happens slowly and over time. Just remember: none of us will ever be totally perfect.