Self Help

Note to my future self..

I really dislike the word self-help. Part of it is because I believe that it’s a misnomer. When people think about self-help they usually think about books, courses and the advice of “gurus”, all of which is intended to help you improve something that’s wrong with you.

See the problem is that anyone that believes that self-help is a valid term is implying that:

  1. People know themselves. That’s the self part of self-help.
  2. People need help. That’s the help part of self-hep.

On the one hand, I believe that few people truly know themselves or make an active effort to get to know themselves better. Therefore, no tactic or hack will improve your life if you don’t know why you need to improve a given aspect of yourself.

On the other hand, I really dislike the fact that the self-help genre assumes that there’s something broken about you. Many people do have self-destructive behavior (e.g., smoking, binge eating, etc.) but for the most part we’re just seeking silver bullets that will make things better overnight. I also think that this idea that you need “help” promotes a fixed mindset as opposed to a growth mindset.

The Solution

I believe that a much better term for self-help is personal development. It correctly assumes that the focus is on yourself but it embraces the fact that progress is a process that comes from a position of strength (development) rather than weakness (help).

Writing a whole post about the difference between two words might sound trivial but I truly believe that language matters.

Now back to work..