Self-help is a word that gets thrown around a lot in modern society. But what is it, and why do people obsess over it so much?
Perhaps you ARE one of the people who is on a never-ending quest for self-improvement.
Or maybe a close friend, relative, or someone else you care about is deeply obsessed with improving their “quality of life.”
There’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to improve yourself as a person.
But there is a large group of people who also search for the “magic bullet” that will make all their problems go away… whether its developing confidence to approach women, start a conversation with someone, speak up in a group situation.
It’s all the same.
People think that once they get that next book, course, or seminar, they’ll be “ready.”
The problem comes in when you realize that you’re never truly “ready” for anything. Life is all about thinking on your feet and taking advantage of a situation before it’s too late.
It’s about… “feeling the fear, and doing it anyway” (a fantastic book by Susan Jeffers).
How many times have we let the perfect chance to meet someone slip by?
How many times have you hit yourself over the head and thought about something funny or interesting you could have said on a date, but didn’t?
It’s all about how we interact with the world around us, and while books can give you some great insights, you’ll learn more by putting yourself in the deep end, and seeing how you react.
Fight or flight?
You may be wondering, why am I qualified to tell anyone about how to live their life?
Here’s a quick story about me. About 10 years ago, I was in high school. At the time, I was quiet, lonely, shy, and never really took the chance to meet people.
I was also “aware” enough to read self-help books, and try to figure out what was wrong with me, and how to fix it.
The years rolled by, and even by the time I reached 21 I had never asked a girl out, was stuck in my mom’s house on the computer, and had been jobless for almost 2 years.
I was on the hamster wheel of reading “self-help,” looking for the one piece of advice that would bring me out of the rut – but it never happened.
Yes, it is as pathetic as it sounds.
I can’t recall when, but there was eventually a “breaking point” for me.
I had just had enough and I decided to go out by myself. I felt awkward and out of place. Intimidated. I was at a nightclub with gorgeous women who would never give me the time of day. I even “nerded” out on the science of falling in love, thinking it would somehow help me on my quest.
I went home feeling so angry and I needed an outlet… that’s when I turned to the gym to help me “release” my feelings.
Over the next few years, the challenges I faced became more and more manageable. Achieving goals in the gym also gave me a little extra juice to tackle other challenging issues in my life.
It was all about taking action, and never giving in to self-pity. I took control, and that one decision to start facing my fears opened up a whole new world to me. I also decided to learn how to dance and how to fight.
Both were extremely intimidating and challenging to me at first, but I took them on anyway.
Since then, I’ve read very few self-help books. In fact, in my opinion one of the most pervasive and useless/destructive type of “self-help” books out there, are those that constantly promote “positive thinking,” visualizing your goals, the “law of attraction,” and “manifesting” things into your life (most likely made famous by “The Secret”).
There is some truth to the popular “positive thinking” and “visualization” stuff that’s so popular these days. But it’s a small part of the overall picture. I have a feeling it’s targeted towards Gen Y – after all, it would be a Gen Y’er’s dream wouldn’t it? If you think about what you want you’ll somehow “attract” it into your life.
Of course, that’s a broad generalization and not everybody is like that – including me, and hopefully you too.
All that said, don’t take this as a “spiting” on self-help.
It’s one of the most beneficial things anyone can do to improve the quality of their life. I’ve read outstanding books on developing great communication skills, body language, dating skills, how to “think” more effectively.
For some though, enough is never enough.
There comes a time when you have to put the books down, get out there, and really apply the stuff that you know. This is a recurring theme with a certain type of person, where they constantly put an item as the number one reason why they aren’t getting success in whatever their goals are.
There are nerds who buy “PUA” or “pickup artist” courses for hundreds of dollars online, but never get anywhere.
Men who buy pheromones based on my reviews, but still won’t approach women who are clearly interested. And yes, they do work, but they are not a magic pill – for example, you might want to read about how they can influence behavior in romantic relationships before even thinking of getting a product.
People who read articles like this, but fail to strike up a conversation with that lonely, gorgeous girl at the bar.
If you’ve never had that awesome feeling of doing something you never thought you could do, now is the time to start. And it’s not just about one specific thing either… simply taking action, also results in gaining momentum to accomplish other things in your life.
Thank you for reading,
– Joe Masters