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Is Self-Help a Scam

By Author Denise Turney –

Where there’s billions of dollars, there could be a scam. Hallmark of a scam is a confidence trick. After all, if you don’t believe in an idea, product or service, you probably won’t try it. Every sales pro knows this. The first step to a sale centers around confidence or trust.

As tough as it may be to accept, the self-help industry pulls in loads of revenue. In fact, Market Research reports that, in the United States alone, the self-help industry was worth $9.9 billion in 2016.

Wikimedia Commons – Picture by Andrew Mercer

Self Help Industry Facts

Self-help products and services range from Selfhelp books, life coaching, online self improvement courses and weight loss programs. In 2016, motivational speakers and personal or life coaches raked in $1 billion each. They were followed by selfhelp books ($800 million) and audiobooks ($769 million).

Those numbers alone are enough to entice a person to enter the self-help industry, including people with good intentions. But, does self-help work? Who’s measuring selfhelp products and services for effectiveness?

A scam doesn’t do what it builds your confidence to believe that it does.

Measuring Self Improvement Products and Services

Is it possible to measure whether reading a self-improvement book or using a self-help app played a pivotal role in helping someone to lose and keep weight off, move away from an addiction or sleep better long term? Perhaps, and more importantly, can a constant focus on self-help prove tiring.

Also, if self-improvement products and services work, why do the same people keep turning to more of the products and services? It’s like going to the same surgeon for a knee replacement ten times. In this case, could it be that the surgeon’s work isn’t effective?

Downsides of Self Help

Lack of effectiveness may be only one downside to self-help. Even more, it’s possible to start to feel as if you’re always spotting faults in yourself. It can start to feel as if you always need to “get better” or “be better”.

When I look back on the years that I read dozens and dozens of self-help books (I used to almost always buy a self-help book when I went book shopping), I appreciate the fact that I finally realized that I could read all the self-help books in the world and still think that I was coming up short somewhere. That shared, I must say that I did move forward with my finances and mind stillness after reading and completing exercises in some of those self-help books.

For me, the downside came when I started to believe that I needed to read “one more” self-help book. It was as if I was trying to work my way to a point where I believed that there was no other improvement needed because I had become perfect.

What Are You Really Searching For

Finally, I stopped buying self-improvement books in mass. Why? It had started to send the message that there would always be something wrong with me. All I had to do was “look”.

Will Storr shares in The New Yorker that,  “People are suffering and dying under the torture of the fantasy self they’re failing to become.” Also, with self-help books, you’re often self-diagnosing. But, what you think is your challenge may, in fact, only be a symptom.

And just how objective are you when it comes to eyeballing yourself? Even more, what are you really searching for when you reach for that next self-help book?

A Never Ending Journey

Change is inner work. But, do you need to change or do you just keep repeating that line to yourself? And, if a self-help book, seminar or motivational speech doesn’t work, how will you know? After all, you could simply say that you’re the problem. You could just tell yourself that you just came up short again.

Perhaps, an answer is to allow your life to unfold all on its own. To accept that, regardless of what you do, think or read, you’re going to feel challenged, confused, certain, sad and happy from time to time. And, that may not be because you’re flawed or because something is wrong with you.

Instead, you could be on a journey, a journey that calls for climbing at times, floating at times, resting, running, walking, stillness and movement. You could be on a journey that you can’t read your way through. In fact, you could be on a journey that you have no choice except to live through.


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Is Self-Help a Scam


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