Toxic Self-Help Advice That I See Constantly and Ignore
A lot of self-help advice is just flimflam
A lot of self-help advice is just flimflam. You are familiar with the material. You know the advice, but you don't know how it can apply to your life.
It is too general and reads like a horoscope, but it has no actionable insights. These tips often have no science behind them and are often wrong. They can also have dangerous implications. They can lead to real harm and wasteful effort.
"Don't worry about what other people think."
That phrase has never been used by a nice person. It is often used to justify the worst behavior.
This means that you have no stake in the opinions of others and no concern about how their lives might be affected by your actions. It assumes that everyone is safe in the world, regardless of their identity. It is possible to become incredibly crass if you don't care about the thoughts of others.
I get the intention. I am an introvert. People like me are plagued by social anxiety and self-consciousness. This issue can be approached in a better way: -unconcerned is better than-concerned. It is important to distinguish between verbiage and content. How we speak to ourselves can have huge consequences for our lives and feelings.
A little bit of insecurity is good for your health. It helps me to not act foolish.
Power manipulation and the "Power of Pussy".
I was gifted this book by a friend, The Power of Pussy. It was basically about women using sex to gain bargaining power over men.
Ironically, the book had insane misogynistic undertones. It was full of generalizations like: Men don’t commit, women commit too early; Men love sex, while women love romance. The book isn't completely false. When people try to dictate hard-fast dating rules for another person's lives, I just squirm in mine seat.
It shared the common adversarial view that men and women have in relationships. The author suggested that men prey on emotions and women should take advantage of sex to prevent them from falling prey to their emotions.
Be very careful if someone tells you how to manipulate power dynamics in relationships. This could be via money, sex, or the pace of your love life. This is a way to approach life that can be very frustrating.
The mantras that will solve all your problems
Our internal narratives can be toxic and repeat our most embarrassing or worst mistakes.
Tony Robbins is well-known for his mantras that you can repeat when you feel down.
I have everything I need right now.
All I need to feel joy is right now.
All I need now is love.
These mantras sound beautiful, poetic, and dive headfirst into the facts. A person with low self-esteem cannot be helped by mantras that last more than a few moments. Tony, I love you. That's just pseudoscience.
One proven solution is to intercept your self-talk and develop awareness. Mindfulness allows you to be more aware of the negative thoughts in your inner dialogue. Inner demons don't like being seen. They retreat to the shadows when they are not seen. Meditation is a great first step.
Mantras can be a fake representation of oneself, but they are only a superficial layer on the real problem.
The positive trap
I love the idiom, "Other Than That Mrs. Lincoln, How did you Enjoy the Play?"
It's morbid humor with the speaker totally unaware that Mrs. Lincoln's husband had just been shot. It speaks to the toxic positivity and hamhandedness that pervades the self-help market.
"Remember the good things."
This is the equivalent to telling your wife to calm down and stop being upset.
Dr. Daniel Wegner is a psychologist at the University of Virginia. He said, "If you are really stressed, it can be difficult to put yourself in a positive mood by thinking positive thoughts. It will actually backfire and give you the opposite of what your want."
Another option is to seek support from friends, family, or therapists. You can even have fun by going to places where people are having fun. This will lift your spirits.
I don’t care what Elon Musk says
When someone is promoted to CEO of a large company, they treat every word as if it were from God. Their actions are unquestioned. Their words are gospel, and every word they speak is a commandment from the heavens.
Sorry to have to share this terrible news. But they may not be aware of what they are doing. Achieving success and climbing up the ranks in a company does not give you all the answers.
Billionaires can be very talented but often they are also extremely lucky. They often have a lot of resources and connections that give them the backing to fail forty-three more times.
You want to know why I am so skeptical of self-help? This is where I make a lot of my living writing. I was immersed in this world and saw behind the curtain. This only confirmed my suspicion that many people make up stuff.
My wet-blanket method to self-help advice has worked for me. I would like to see an academic study to prove it works. I don't believe in credibility, but curiosity is a valid reason to continue inspection.
People, please be cautious. Terrible advice can spread virally and lead to many people taking wrong steps. Take the time to think about the source and see it through the lens of your life. These tips, which look like fortune cookies, are not universally applicable.
Let's end on a positive note: The fact that you read self-help is a positive sign about you. You are in the right place. Keep going.