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The Problem With Self-Helps

Sometimes, it defeats its own purpose.


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Laurentia Nicole Sudjono

3 years ago | 5 min read

I’ve been reading a lot of self-help books and articles and podcasts, and I couldn’t help but feel that some of them make me feel bad. I’m not saying that they are bad, their advice is great, but some is not working.

Some of the advice seems to be just…. talks. When I read the books, I’m not going to say names, some didn’t show me what they did or the journey on how to get where they are. I felt most are like textbooks or just nonsense talking being repeated over and over again.

For example, I read this book (Or an article) telling me that I should not quit and that a winner is never a quitter. In some circumstances, it is true.

But I’ve tried it several times and depending on the situation, it’s not a good advice. It’s not that I easily turn away when something bad happens, but I realized that I couldn’t see a future with me there anymore.

In this article, I want to share with you my opinion on how to get the best self-help books or podcasts so that you don’t feel bad about yourself.

1) No personal stories

One of the reasons why I love the Rich Dad series is because his books are honest and talking about his journey. When I read it, I can feel him telling me a story on each subject he’s telling me. His stories speak to me and stayed in my head.

So, not only I was engaged, but I was learning a lot from his story he told about his journey.

But the rest of the self-help books or articles I’ve read so far gave me no impacts. I felt like reading a textbook, there’s no other takeaway, it’s only a bunch of facts like, “do this so you can be that”.

The worst part is when they don’t tell about their struggle, that’s when all the red alert buzzes. I couldn’t relate to the author when he didn’t tell the hard part of his journey, so it’s hard for me to take in the advice when he hasn’t been through it. We all want to be successful, but the path is never easy. That’s why we turn to self-help books.

But when they don’t tell their struggles, I immediately put the book down because I knew where it’s going. I can google the same stuff and they’ll give me the same words in one article. I don’t have to pay so much for a 350 pages of descriptive writing of the same advice, leading me to the next point…

2) Repetitive takeaway

There were times when I read a book and the words are pretty much the same, just showed in different ways. I think this is how fake gurus keep appearing out of nowhere, claiming that they are the best.

“Don’t give up”, “Keep working hard”, “Be brave”, “Be consistent” and so on and so forth. After reading countless self-help books, I began to realize that I am getting the same content over and over again.

Soon enough, I couldn’t stand it, and I closed the book. Most are just saying the same thing and there are times that the advice only works for some people, leading to my next point…

3) Unapplicable advices

This is what makes most people feel bad because sometimes, we couldn’t follow the routine that successful people did. I fell for this and it demotivates me.

The one piece of advice I hate the most is ‘winners aren’t quitters’. To some extent, it’s true but not applicable to everything. Even if you work hard, realistically, some odds are just not in your favor.

We can see this a lot in school, there are some who are straight As even though they never pay attention in class and there are some who barely pass even though they worked harder than the rest of them. Some talents just don’t work with others.

In the end, there are so many discouraged kids who think their dumb because they couldn’t get the result from the effort they put themselves in.

They kept doing it over and over again to the point that it sucks the life out of them. In Asian culture, we’ve read news where students committed suicide because they couldn’t get the grade they hoped they get, and it’s still happening during the pandemics.

All I am saying is, find one that suits your life. If you think the advice works for you, stick to it. If not, drop it. Otherwise, you are risking destroying yourself instead because of some talks, leading to my last point…

4) Too many talks

The same thing happens with this self-gurus that starts emerging lately. If you look upon the internet about financial freedom or entrepreneurship, there are these ‘gurus’ ads that keep coming up.

Most of their ads are the same, they record themselves in a fancy house or in front of luxurious cars, and they tell us how they can teach us to be financially free by joining their online courses.

For me, when they started showing off the items they possess, that’s a red alert already to me. I am a firm believer of rich people who live like average people are the best role model.

We see this a lot from top billionaires where they don’t show off their luxury things, and they kept rubbing it right to our face on how successful they are.

But what if they rent that luxurious stuff? What if they lied? There has been news that fake self gurus have been surfacing the internet and months later, they were sued for selling false information or products.

I don’t want to mention names, but you can check out this Youtube account by the name of Coffezilla, who covers a lot about those.

The takeaway

The point is, not all self-helps are helpful for you. For me, I filtered the advice I get from people and only pick the ones that I can go with. Otherwise, I’ll end up wasting my time reading self-help books with:

  1. No personal stories
  2. Repetitive takeaways
  3. Unapplicable advices
  4. Too many talks.

I read this quote that resonates with me the most from Robert Kiyosaki. In one of his Rich Dad books Before You Quit Your Job, he wrote:

There is an old saying that goes, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” Personally, I do not agree with that saying. It is too simple. In my reality a winner also knows when to quit.

Sometimes in life, it is best to cut your losses. It is best to admit you have come to a dead end or to admit you have been barking up the wrong tree.

This advice resonates with me the most because I have a goal in my life. The only way to reach that is to quit some things so that the ‘never give up’ advice can be applied to that one goal.

I hope I didn’t waste your time here and hope you gain something.

Originally published on medium.

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Laurentia Nicole Sudjono


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