3 Reasons Why Self-help Doesn’t Work for Some People

November 29th, 2010
1. Working on Mindset when action is required

You’re just too damn negative.  So what if you have no job and are depressed.  SNAP OUT OF IT!!!! You see, failures fail and winners win.

Here’s the truth: you have what you have.  I was not born to be a great basketball player.  I don’t have the skills.  To hear people tell it, positive thinking will get you wherever you want to go.

But it’s not true.  A lot of “successful” people are negative bastards. Look at some of the top athletes.

Jerry Rice, greatest NFL receiver of all time, was terribly hard on himself.

To hear a self-help guru talk, Jerry Rice is a big failure because he doesn’t think positive.

Well, let me tell you: success is not always determined by a positive mindset.  Oh, don’t take my word for it.  Let the aforementioned Mr. Rice in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech tell you the secret to his success:

I’m here to tell you that the fear of failure is the engine that has driven me throughout my entire life.  It flies in the faces of all these sports psychologists who say you have to let go of your fears to be successful and that negative thoughts will diminish performance.  But not wanting to disappoint my parents, and later my coaches, teammates and fans, is what pushed me to be successful.

Did I mention that this is the greatest receiver of ALL TIME saying this?

Of course there’s nothing wrong with being positive.  I’m positive.  I love positivity. I can’t bring myself to think like Jerry Rice.

But the truth is that there are many kinds of “mindsets” that can help a person achieve their goals.  There is no “magic mindset” that’ preventing you from doing what you want.

The key is using the mindset you have to your advantage. If you’re hard on yourself, there’s no reason why you can’t use that same mindset to achieve your goals.

Too many people are spending a lot of money trying to learn how to be something they’re not.  Use your strengths.  But speaking of spending money.

2. Spending too much money on  self-help programs instead of using that money for something that can actually help you

The problem with most people is that they think it’s unreasonable to spend $2,500 on a set of 7 CDs and a DVD.

And they’d pretty much be right.

I know people who spend a lot of money going from seminar to seminar to learn the next big secret.

And the problem is they end up hearing the same stuff over and over and while it FEELS really good, it doesn’t actually DO any good.

I say go to a rock concert. It’s cheaper.  And more fun.

3. Helping yourself instead of helping others

Shsss…now, this really is a secret.  Don’t tell everyone you heard this from Don’t Step in the Poop, OK?

You actually help yourself by helping others.

In fact, you can do more to help yourself when you help others.  It’s like author and friend of the blog, Steve Harper says in his book, The Ripple Effect (I’m paraphrasing here):

The most selfish thing a person can do is to be selfless

So maybe if you go out there and try to be, I don’t know, a decent human being who does nice things for others, then you might start feeling pretty darn good about yourself.  And that feeling is what most self-help gurus/seminars/whatnot are trying to get you to feel.  But the cool thing is that you won’t need to spend $5,000 in training yourself to be a better person. You WILL be a better person.  And you’ll save yourself a few bucks along the way.

13 Responses to “3 Reasons Why Self-help Doesn’t Work for Some People”

  1. Carlon Haas says:

    New blog post: 3 Reasons Why Self-help Doesn’t Work for Some People http://bit.ly/fVY54E

  2. jmallinson says:

    Great read as ever RT @carlon: 3 Reasons Why Self-help Doesn’t Work For Some People http://bit.ly/fVY54E

  3. RT @carlon: 3 Reasons Why Self-help Doesn’t Work for Some People http://bit.ly/fVY54E

  4. RT @carlon: New blog post: 3 Reasons Why Self-help Doesn’t Work for Some People http://bit.ly/fVY54E

  5. Urbee Car says:

    Instead of taking a chance on a self-help seminars (or book, or DVD or etc) why not take a chance on yourself? Personally, I have always wanted to see the art I read about in books in the real. So then, why the hell not go see it? A plane ticket to Europe is a couple of hundred bucks. S*%T! why didn’t I do this before!

    And we all have dreams of accomplishing something (leaning to paint, learning to drive, learning to read, etc) why not help someone else reach their goals? Maybe if you help them they will help someone else as well? A “pay-it-forward” idea ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_it_forward ). I LIKE IT! ( http://www.entertonement.com/clips/ldlvvqgwdk–I-like-itRobocop-Paul-McCrane-Emil-Antonowsky- )

    A very nice Blog post. Thank you for sharing it.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your comment. You’re right. Money spent trying to “improve” yourself could be spent on ACTUALLY improving yourself..learning new skills, going to new places, etc.

    I like the pay it forward idea a lot. I also believe that you help yourself a lot more by helping others than with other more expensive methods.

  7. Chris says:

    3 Reasons Why Self-help Doesn’t Work for Some (Most) People | Don't Step in the Poop http://bit.ly/fVY54E

  8. Chris says:

    Hi Carlon. I like how you have shown that you don’t need to spend significant money on gurus and seminars to improve yourself. I agree with this. I used to spend a lot on self help and used to be a user of holosync but I realised that I don’t (and can’t afford it) need to purchase all these costly self help products when I have the answers myself and I can be my own teacher. The important thing is learning how to connect with your deeper self and that part of you that contains all that inspiration and conviction. That is what i believe anyway. I don’t buy self help products anymore. At one time I was tempted to pay money to go see Tony Robbins but reading his book is enough money for me to spend on him. At the end of the day I am master of my fate and these gurus aren’t going to turn me into the person I wish to be. There tools can be of benefit but I refuse to line their pockets nowadays.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Chris,

    I think you’ve got it. In the end, you hold your fate in your own hands. A good guru can point on on the right path. I’ve met some good gurus that DO teach useful things. But most of these “gurus” make money by pointing you down the wrong road and then blame you for taking the wrong road. And then they offer to show you the “secret” road, which is not a road at all. Yes, this has been one big analogy, but the point is by showing you the wrong roads and blaming you, you become dependent on the guru rather than independent up till the time you get run over.

  10. Jack Bennett says:

    I agree with #1 to some degree – endless “tuning” of your mindset is less effective than just getting shit done.At the same time, it really depends on the specific nature of your goals. If your goal is to achieve “X”, by any means necessary, regardless of how happy you feel along the way, then there’s probably a way to get there that maximizes results rather than good feelings. Seems like Jerry Rice found such a way.On the other hand, if you place the highest priority on maintaining an internal state of happiness over the long-term, a negative mindset will almost certainly be counterproductive to this.Speaking for myself, I’d rather feel ongoing happiness and inner peace than achieve any specific worldly goal. So for me, positive thinking is the right choice.In the case of #2, a combination of factors come into play.My reference point for a self-help or educational seminar is around $20 per instruction hour – which is about the same cost as courses from a public university. (That’s around $500 for a 3-day weekend seminar.)When teachers or “gurus” charge more than this, you have to ask whether they deliver proportionally more value to justify the higher price. As most of us learned in school and/or college, some teachers are better, more effective, more caring than others. Same is true of adult education, including personal development courses. Caveat emptor.Of course, believing that a given seminar or workshop (usually the next one on the horizon…) has the One True Answer for you is naive and delusional. Better that a person approach these things with open mind – as a learning experience to be added to their toolkit – and not expect the next teachings to save them.#3 makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of the positive psych and happiness research that has grown popular in recent years points in this direction – volunteering and doing nice things for other people has positive effect on a person’s subjective experience of life.

  11. About number 3, it’s true. You get a lot of satisfaction by helping someone else out.

    There was a study where they offered a reward for helping out someone else and didn’t do as well as people who didn’t get anything in return.


  12. Firewater says:

    In 1 you make a good point

    They way I see it emotion do not really help you atcheeve your goles alone.  All they do is give you goles and that is at most half the battle.  Logic and reasion kicks in to come up with stratagies.  I remeber seeing a series of images with a chimp and a hanging benana.  The chimp disires the benana but wanting it will not do it on its own.  Now disire give the chimp an objective.  But the cleverness of the chimp is what help him get the hanging banana as he grabs boxes and stacks them to reach the banana.

    It like this in a game of chess their is a fear of losing (it is very little fear I hope)  and a disire to win.  But wanting to win will not get you to win, you have to come up with strategies to win.  Emotion only, and manly three emotion I see as foundation desire, fear and indifference, give us something to work for or away from.  But reason, logic, knowledge and cleverness are the tools to get what are emotion fear and/or desire.

    I also see emotions as instincts that we can put on hold or even turn down.  Terror is an instinct reaction we do not and we make an immediate reaction fight or flight.  But say fear of getting attacked and holding your composer you may actually talk your way out of it, instead of fight or flight. 

  13. johan loewen says:

    RT @carlon: 3 Reasons Why Self-help Doesn’t Work for Some People http://t.co/ikSPkyW3


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