The Toxic World of Self-Help

I already wrote a few lines about what happens when biohacking goes wrong.

About how I became a huge fan of cold showers, intermittent fasting and followed many other advice from all sorts of sources. With only one goal in my mind – to improve myself in some ways.

But then something went wrong. Because I was following everybody else’s advice, and missed the most important one. The message from my own body. To stop this nonsense and listen to myself first.

It’s important to educate yourself about things, but it’s also vital to stay critical and mindful with the sources of information.
Even if something is proven by science, it doesn’t give you the guarantee that your body will react well to it.

It’s really important that you listen to yourself, and use your own senses for doing this. The only knowledge you need is the knowledge about your own body.

We were all born with this knowledge, but forgot about it, because we have too many distractions around us. Everything is so noisy these days that we don’t hear ourselves anymore.

There is one tool I’d really recommend, though. Some mindfulness, which can help you to connect with your body. Or anything else that works in a similar way.

I came by another interesting story worth sharing.

What about you? Do you have any experience with following others’ advice to the point of harming yourself?

18 thoughts on “The Toxic World of Self-Help”

  1. It’s like what George Carlin said about the term “self-help”…

    “If you’re getting advice from someone else, then it’s not self-help, it’s help! If you did it yourself, you didn’t need the help. You did it yourself. There’s no such thing as self-help.”

    It is an oxymoron, this term, “self-help”. You either receive help from someone else, or you do it yourself without the help.

    As for what you said about listening to yourself, I agree. For example, we want different “treatments” for anxiety and depression, calling such feelings illnesses of their own. Anxiety and depression are not illnesses. They are symptoms, stemming from a much greater problem. To call anxiety and depression an illness, is to make both anxiety and depression as core problems. As you said with listening to yourself, both anxiety and depression act as signals, that like pain from a broken bone, should not be ignored.

    My father struggled with a lot of pain in his own body, made up numerous excuses about it, before he realized it was cancer. Other people will state that their headaches are a normal occurrence or that they simply need more sleep, before they realize they have a tumor growing beneath their skull.

    Signs like pain, especially of anxiety and depression, cannot be “treated” so they simply go away. It is not the pain that should disappear, as much as it is the source of the pain, like that example of a broken bone, that should disappear.

    To alleviate the symptoms, that is important. Though, to cure what is sourcing the pain, that is more important.

    • Well said! I agree with you completely.
      Now that you’ve mentioned, the title sounds really stupid to me too. It should be self development/improvement instead of self-help. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ll leave it like it is, it might lead others to some thinking too.

    • “Signs like pain, especially of anxiety and depression, cannot be β€œtreated” so they simply go away. It is not the pain that should disappear, as much as it is the source of the pain, like that example of a broken bone, that should disappear.”

      Thank you! I’ve had (and have) a lot of anxiety and depression caused by specific environmental stresses, and I know what it feels like for me to not have those. But I’m tired of people trying to suggest there’s something else I could do to reduce that stress (in the meantime whilst I go through the slow process of getting re-homed somewhere else etc), besides what I am already doing with practising not reacting to these things, keeping an inner calm as much as I can. There’s a fundamental, instinctive level on which my body and mind are still reacting to things like loud sounds (which actually most people do, but me especially).

  2. So many useless charlatans and snake oil salesmen out there. 99% are only interested in making money from you. Useless books, courses, seminars, fake medicines and health supplements. The world is a bad place.

  3. I’ve made myself get used to cold showers before, and to be honest it does feel good afterwards, but mostly you just don’t need the stress of building yourself up to it! Lol. I really think that these kinds of things are a way to make ourselves feel better to make up for other sources of anxiety or stress.

    For many years I used my morning swimming to help make up for the anxiety and stress I felt in life, to help to motivate myself, but it eventually wore thin :). I will get back into the swimming when I can, but not to make up for those other things.

  4. I’m not sure that I’ve followed other’s advise to the point of self-harm, however, I do very much appreciate your advice about listening to your body. Very important.

    Once we’ve created a space to consider how we are feeling, I mean truly feeling, which means removing the distractions, without in our environment, yes, and also within ourselves, we can then create a space to make real choices, which are predicated on what we want, not what someone else says we should want.

    Thanks for the post!


  5. When we have a problem, more than read self-help books or go to life coaches that try to sell you services to explore your vulnerabilities, and most of them don’t have either background in psychology. We should stop, breathe, listen to our bodies, and seek professional help with licensed individuals.

    The power to change resides within us!


  6. Hi! so I dont know if I generally disagree with this post or agree with this post.
    As someone who has had anxiety and panic attacks fro m early childhood. I tend to be inspired by selfhelp books. Ofcourse I do not do something just because someone said I should do it. I first go through some critical thinking before I practice something.

    Where do you draw the line of self-help? is talking to your therapist also considered negative then because a therapist is also an outside force that is wanting to make a difference in your life, ofcourse with your permission.

    • I have nothing against self-help books or any source of information. Whatever helps and we’re different. My opinion is the same about consultations with a therapist. For some people this works and for some it doesn’t. For me it does and I do listen to them.
      The main goal of this post was to point out the importance of listening to yourself while going through other people’s advice. Like you’ve said, some critical thinking is really important.
      I’m sorry if the point wasn’t as clear as it could be.
      Thanks for stopping by, Mitzi. πŸ™‚


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