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Self Help for the People who Hate Self Help

Nupur Saraswat | January 12, 2016


“10 ways to stop worrying and start believing in yourself.”

“20 ways to motivate yourself.”

“30 things to say every morning in the mirror to make yourself feel beautiful.”

If any of those statements made you cringe then read on, my soul brother/sister.

If not, then stop. Abandon. Leave. I can hardly stress enough — this anti self-help article is not you.

For the sake of the following arguments, the readers of such gospel, henceforth, will be referred to as “believers” and the non-readers will then be “nonbelievers”. Which I am guessing suits you, the anti self-help nonbeliever, just fine.

For as long as you can imagine you haven’t been able to comprehend the objective of an entire section of the library dedicated to books written by regular people to help other regular people with their regular people problems; and nobody questioning their authority on said subjects. A section that could’ve been dedicated to mating calls of penguins and peacocks. Or to adventure of pilots who are afraid of heights. Instead this section is now full of books promising self confidence in 27 easy steps. Can’t follow simple instructions? “Here, 27 easy steps to help you follow 27 easy steps to success.” Articles telling you why your insecurities don’t look good on you; and why you should give them up. If only, dear Sir, if only. Strangers serving up their lives on platter for you to read, and learn, and replicate. How did we get here? When did we stop listening to our grandfathers and start listening to balding men with flowery words? When did we stop sitting through our best friends’ monologues and start asking the cat lady for relationship advice? Hold on, when did we start taking other’s advice at all? Where are all my homies at who do the opposite of what you tell them to do?

Here is the brutal truth, as soon as I find someone reading the Motivational Guide to SuccessLand where Money grows on trees and the atmosphere is made of 30% Better Communication Skills, and 70% Self Improvement, I lose trust in them. Symptoms of this loss include — little or no faith in any advice they give me thereafter, visibly expressed surprise at any statement spoken by them that is not a complete cliché, and mental eye roll at quotes they decide to quote from these books. The reason I warned the “believers” to refrain from reading on was because I don’t want to have to explain that I still believe that they are good people, I just don’t place sufficient trust in their judgement, IQ and/or EQ.

If you are like me, then you believe that — “opportunity knocks once” was the worst piece of advice ever passed down the human generational grapevine. Because you, like me, know that opportunities hardly knock. They are found, sometimes unexpectedly and sometimes after years of deliberate looking. But in any scenario, this is the truth — opportunities are found in OpportunityLand where Rejection grows on trees, and the atmosphere is made of 20% Right Time, 20% Right Place, and 60% Ability To Spot Opportunities.

You have scoured through stacks of Deepak Chopra’s preaching but your morning coffee still tastes of the 9–5 job you dread so much. Replicating Steve Job’s life, as per his memoirs, is getting you nowhere. Because it’s not supposed to. You are not Deepak Chopra, or Amma, or Barack Obama. Nevertheless, I still believe that their autobiographies are good pieces of literature. But to the nonbelievers they hold the same message as the entire self help section — “you do you”. Find “you”. Nurture “you”. Be “you”.

In stating the above, I feel like I have cornered myself into talking about the controversial, real Schrödinger’s cat — “passion”. Everybody seems to have it; nobody seems to be able to find it. I could quote every sort of literature that has been written on it — the bullying you into believing in yourself kind, the easy instructional guide kind, the idealistic unpragmatic kind. But none of it would tell you that you don’t need that literature. YOLO got it right; you have one life. Why would you want to abide by the instructional rules of a 45-year old dude who has as little chance of being right as you! Consider yourself Adam, my wild stallion, and run free. Nobody has lived your life before, you are the pioneer of these seas; you couldn’t go wrong even if you tried.

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Nupur Saraswat

Loves nature and everything that comes naturally, which includes words. A patriot and a passionate lover. Environmental engineer by day, slam poet by night. Boundlessly curious. Other articles by this author



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