The toxic world of self help: a world surrounded by toxic positivity, self help addiction, fake gurus, and hustle culture.
It’s the side of ‘self-development’ that is often overlooked by those on the outside, and even those who are avid consumers of the industry.
In this video we take a dive into the dark side of self-help, and the traps that may lie in wait for those who enter this world.
Most Americans are unhappy. Despite the abundance of material wealth, the idealism of democratic values, and flashy new iPhones, most people are suffering. And the brutal truth is that several industries–including the self-industry–are profiting off of the emotional pain of people seeking quick fixes.
See, part of being an American isn’t just getting ill from living in a superficial society that values materialism, consumerism, and working way too many hours each week, it’s trying to buy your happiness one book or one pill at a time. People are brainwashed into thinking that reading self-help books or taking medication can evaporate their problems and help them find the happiness they so badly desire.
Back in 2008, the self help industry was valued at 11 billion dollars each year. That’s a lot of books and motivational speeches that failed to help the 40 million people suffering from anxiety, the 14.8 million suffering from depression, and the 7.7 million people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. And in 2016 alone the US spent 446 billion dollars on medications–almost half of the global market.
These astonishing numbers point to one very important fact: that unhappy people make companies a lot of money.
That’s because unhappy people are easy to control. Our society’s emphasis on productivity and work ethic–two byproducts of a capitalist and materialist system–keeps people unhappy and then convinces them that the only way out of unhappiness is to spend their money on “quick fixes” that don’t actually work.
When you’re suffering and looking for help, the self-help industry manipulates your weaknesses by selling you false hope.
Talented writers author books about happiness without experiencing its depths themselves. Creative marketers and advertisers sell individuals the images of happiness, but under deliver results. And people themselves want easy tasks and fast results. The result: a dark storm of lost individuals. Blind leading the blind.
As a life coach, licensed therapist, addiction specialist, and someone earning my doctorate in clinical psychology, the most baffling thing about the self help industry–aside from the irony of my contribution to it–is that it delivers exactly what people want. See, most people actually want unhappiness. They practice unhappiness. They create it themselves and then complain about it.
When I get on phone calls with potential new clients for my coaching business, it’s not uncommon for people to ask me about my programs. To ask me for solutions. To ask me what I think of them. To ask me what I can do for their bottom line. And the truth is–all of those questions, however legitimate, are rooted in fear and a desire to assimilate me into their way-of-being in the world.
People are afraid of vulnerability, attached to their suffering, and stuck in their ways. They don’t want to change.
They think that happiness is an object that can be purchased. Whether in a book, a pill, a work-out plan, or a simple to-do list prescribed by a life coach. The truth is that real happiness is always present in your life–you just need to get out of the way to access it.
You create suffering each time you imagine that happiness is an object. You elicit unhappiness each time you search for happiness. The mechanism of this seeking for happiness is what reinforces your isolation from its presence. Read that again.
Convincing yourself that you are inadequate–that your life needs something more and that you need to achieve things, own things, and buy things to find happiness–is what shackles you to unhappiness. And, it gets worse. Me telling you to commit yourself to the process of discovering real happiness goes against your conditioning, your instincts, your fear of vulnerability, and the propaganda of the entire self-help industry.
The only way to discover true happiness is to surrender to it. Open yourself up. Transform your habits. And stop practicing unhappiness. Find someone who knows what they’re talking about and learn from them–it’s the only way. And it is that simple.
You need to realize, most profoundly, that you are the storm. The sun–real happiness–is always present. But in your self-absorption and tendencies of unhappiness, you create the dark clouds that block the warm, golden light. To re-discover happiness, then, you need to release the darkness that you create through your own life-patterns.
You need to release the illusion taught to you by the self help industry–that happiness is an external object that can be purchased–and recognize that happiness is here, now. You are not broken. You are not weak. You are beautiful and complete just as you are.
Surrender to the process of real self-development and remember that the sun is always shining.