The Day “Self-Help Content” Stopped Helping Me

The other day I told my partner, “I’ve heard something on this podcast that really made me think. It goes ” The only difference between you and the people who are successful, is that they’re doing it, you’re not“”. Well, something along those lines anyway. He looked at me and said, “Yeah (sigh), I don’t really connect to that, I mean, this kind of stuff just goes without saying. What’s the point of that kind of affirmation anyway?

I thought he had a point, but to be honest I also thought, because he doesn’t have Instagram or listen to podcasts, “Well, he doesn’t really get it, he’s not familiar with that kind of content. He might see it from a, not hostile per say but “meh” point of view.

A few days later, I heard the exact same sentence on another podcast, and for some reason, it made me feel really angry. I don’t know if I was angry at myself, or the type of content I ingest, or both, but I decided it was all a bit too much. What was? All the “self-help” content I listened to, watched, read about.

*When I talk about self-help here, I know the term probably is too vast, and a business podcast for instance might not be considered like self-help content, but basically to me it means, any content related to how to improve your life, be successful, be better at communicating, be confident etc. Hope it’s clear!

It started with a few success stories about people making it. It would usually go like this “I started from nothing, worked my ass off before and after going to my everyday job, and after a lot of hard work, not seeing my friends, or family because of the amount of work I was dedicated to throw myself into, it finally…worked. See what I did there?

Then I started to see people on Instagram telling their audience, “I know I posted this amazing photo of me on holidays looking glowy and all but just know that right now, I look and/or feel like shit.

I could not stop consuming stories about entrepreneurs, content creators, self-help book writers, people who inspired me. And, don’t get me wrong, some of them still do BUT, we’ll come onto that later.

Then followed, videos, TED talks, articles, Linkedin posts. They were all about the same idea, turned into a statement: you are responsible for your own happiness. Which, let’s be REAL, and nuanced, is so simplistic and just not true. It simply doesn’t take into account, culture, social background, education, life shit, anything. It’s an affirmation making you responsible for your own happiness but it sort of means that, if you’re not happy, well, guess what? That’s on you as well.

Then I started to see people on Instagram telling their audience, “I know I posted this amazing photo of me on holidays looking glowy and all but just know that right now, I look and/or feel like shit.” And everytime I saw that kind of post I thought, “Ok, then Why would you post that amazing looking picture of you in the first place? And then remind us that, hey, it’s not real life folks, don’t forget!” Some say, “I want my account to be positive, I want to spread joy”, etc. Which is a nice thought. Yet, they must be aware that this type of content does not have that much of a positive impact on people if they keep having to apologize for it, or deconstruct the images they put on Social Media for the sake of being honest and more transparent, right?

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It all started to make me feel dizzy, guilty and worst of all, small. I remember walking around in my flat, cleaning or folding my clothes away, listening to this podcast and hearing for the second time in a few days : “The only difference between you and the people who are successful, is that they’re doing it, you’re not“.

I stopped doing what I was doing, and said out loud, “Stop. This had to stop“.

I don’t want to meditate, or maybe I do, but ultimately, do I want to hear about other people LOVING it all the time?

Consuming all this so called “self-help” content was not helping me at all. Years ago I’d be excited about it, it felt really new and full of hope, and I guess in a way, it was really new and full of hope, and probably necessary as well. However that day, I thought, ” Too much “self-help” content is eventually going to fuck me up.

I don’t even think I want to be an entrepreneur. I don’t like to fake it until I make it. I don’t think it’s easier to give up than to pursue your dreams, it’s way more complicated. I don’t like making lists, I always loose them or if I don’t, I forget to tick the boxes. I don’t even like baths and candles, it’s so boring it does not help me to reset at all. I don’t want to meditate, or maybe I do, but ultimately, do I want to hear about other people LOVING it all the time?

I miss raw content, unedited honesty. I miss real life stories. You might argue that culture, online content should or could, amongst other things, make us dream. And I agree. The thing is what I was consuming was not making me dream anymore. Because you know what makes me dream? Real life. With its flaws, errors, misundersantings, wobbles, failures, successes, joys, hopes. All of it. I’m sick of the edited version. I don’t love the word authenticity but I’m going to be crazy and say that, I want more of it.

I want the good, the bad and the ugly.

This post is a bit rambly. You might disagree or think it’s just another rant against society, consumerism, social media, and it might as well be. Oh also, I’m well aware I might be contributing to that, yet aren’t we all? I’m not sitting here judging everyone, I’m just being honest.  Anyway, I’m now choosing very carefully what I watch, read, listen to “self-help” wise, and I’ll share it with you soon. I touched on that a few months ago, and I’ve already done a bit of clear out this summer. But it’s not over.

What do you think about all this? Do you feel the same or not at all?

This space is called Le Beauty Journal and I like to think beautiful things in life can be rough, raw and real. Same goes for happiness and success. Failures and disappointments. We’re just doing our best. Don’t you think we might need less “self-help” if we could just help each other?

It’s the little things you know.

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