The Sinister Side of Self-Help

Discussion in 'Self Improvement' started by SwedishViking, Mar 19, 2020.

  1. Self-improvement can be great. Eating healthy, exercising, and learning new skills are good things. Trying to be a better person is valuable. However, there is a slippery-slope where many seem to fall. There is a place where the quest for self-improvement turns sour. And I have been at that place. In this post, I will not only warn about that place but also show a solution to get out of it.

    A few years ago, I stumbled upon Nofap. And I quickly found out that I had to improve myself to quit my porn addiction. I started to exercise, eat healthier, I meditated, read books, took cold showers, and watched videos on self-improvement. This made my Nofap-streaks longer and I felt good about myself.

    Three of these habits, however, led me down into a rabbit hole. Namely: meditation, reading books and watching videos on self-improvement. These three things led to one thing: Thirst for knowledge.

    I wanted to meditate better so I couldn't get enough of videos on spirituality. I wanted to be happy so I couldn't get enough of reading books and watching videos on self-improvement. I acquired a lot of knowledge this way. But looking back now, I can say that it was not the knowledge, but the good habits that gave results.

    Even though the acquired knowledge didn't help me much, it gave me a sense of pride. A feeling of knowing more than my peers. My friends consisted of atheists and Christians, but I thought I knew a grander truth through watching countless hours of spiritual videos. These videos handled new-age topics like astral-projection, ego-death, enlightenment and the like. So I saw my friends as blind fools for not knowing these things.

    Through my habits of exercise and cold showers, I developed discipline. And I could see my friends lacking in discipline. Most of them could not even resist a jar of cookies. I was outwardly friendly towards them. But on the inside, I felt like I was better than them. I knew things they were ignorant of, and I had more discipline. Through exercise, I looked better than them. I could make people laugh effortlessly. I was superior. I think it all comes down to one word: Pride.

    Like I said earlier, healthy habits are beneficial. However, the problem in my story arose from knowledge-seeking. And I think many of us can identify with this symptom. If you regularly binge-watch videos as I did. Even solid self-improvement ones. There is a problem. If you applied the advice of a dozen videos, it would surely suffice. But a dozen videos is not enough. Somehow, you NEVER find the answer you're looking for. And that is a part of the slippery-slope I mentioned. Seeking answers, then searching for more, and yet never finding. Or maybe you find something, bringing you some momentary peace, but the peace does not last. So you search for more information. When will it end? When will there be peace and joy? When will you find the information that will make you happy?

    One day I found an end to this cycle. And on that same day, there was a deep peace. A peace that made the temporary peace I used to get from meditation seem false. But this was true and pure. The day before this fantastic day was the last time I watched porn. I have not edged the slightest since. More on the solution later.

    So far, we have identified two potential problems with self-improvement. Pride, and a lack of lasting peace. Honestly, I think they are both sides of the same coin. Deception. Promises of happiness, but unfulfilled. The goal of the deception is to make you evil. This while feeding you with information to keep focused on, like a carrot on a stick. Just so you don't notice the subtle effects it has on you. I did not notice I was becoming more selfish. I was outwardly nice, but arrogance was in my heart. Sometimes I noticed it, and I knew deep down it was wrong. But knowing it was wrong did not help.

    I think anyone who has dived deep into self-improvement can identify with at least one side-effect I have mentioned in my story. Keep in mind that I am not condemning self-improvement. I have benefited from it. I would not be exercising regularly, eating healthy and taking cold showers if it wasn't for this movement. But the 1000+ hours of reading and watching videos on self-improvement and new-age spirituality was more than I needed. That was the carrot on the stick.

    Now to the solution to this darker side of self-improvement. It is stupidly simple, but many will neglect it still. One night I realized I had searched and searched yet never found. I had absorbed so much information, yet had nothing to show for it. I felt deceived. This realization of deception rang a few bells from my memories of Christianity. How clever the devil was. I thought if he existed, he would be a genius. Leading me to think happiness was around the corner, yet it never was. This while making me selfish and unhappy. So I did something I had not done in a long time. I prayed to Jesus. I can not remember exactly what I prayed but as the days went by, the veil in front of my eyes slowly lifted.

    I kept on praying, and one day I realized how prideful I had been. And what a horrible person I was inside. I was familiar with Christianity so I knew Jesus had the power to forgive. And I sincerely asked for forgiveness. I also prayed for help with my porn-addiction. And the next day there was a peace that is with me still. I had at last found the truth I was looking for. That demonic urge for porn was gone. And has not been present since.

    And the sinister symptoms from self-improvement: Pride, and lack of lasting peace, was gone. I think Galatians 5:19-23 describes some of my radical personality change quite literally:

    The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Before I came to Jesus I was doing most of the negative things mentioned. But now I am grateful to be repulsed by those things and to instead possess the fruits of the spirit. I can feel it in my heart. Suddenly I started to care for other people, I started to love them. However, I am still human so I am not without fault, but I tell you this: From just turning to Jesus, I became a way better person.

    Now I will conclude the solution to the evil symptoms I suffered from to make it clear how simple it is.

    1. Pray to Jesus, ask for help, realize that you are lost and need help.

    2. Ask him to reveal your moral crimes. So that you can sincerely ask for forgiveness.

    3. Faith. It will come when you realize the power in his name.

    Self-improvement is about being the best you can be, isn't it? So why hold on to Pride and evil desires? Especially when the solution is free and simple. If you don't believe in the solution. Ask yourself: What do I have to lose? If you have been searching for answers as much as I have, it would be irrational not to try this out.

    With faith and honest prayer, you will be guided. And with his presence, you will know peace. You have been seeking, but that cycle may end now.
  2. AtomicTango

    AtomicTango Fapstronaut

    I think its very easy for people to become obsessed with self improvement without actually applying the things they "improve" into their lives in any tangible way. I know for a fact I do this sometimes, I spend more time improving various aspects of my life or working towards a goal I never had any real intention of meeting. Its a weird mixture of good intentions and lack of real discipline.
    SwedishViking likes this.
  3. I like that statement. If I understand it correctly, we intend to improve our lives, but lack the discipline for a real change. And in my experience the improvements we actually do, does not always bring happiness. For like you said.
    Finding that true meaning is crucial for both sobriety and happiness. Personally I was looking for that meaning in the wrong places, which has become obvious now that I have a strong sense of it.

    If you lack meaning, then I wish for you to find it. Stay strong brother!
  4. hookko

    hookko New Fapstronaut

    Yes, this truly is something that a lot of people trying to improve themselves pass through -- I know I did and still do... There's a reason for Pride to be considered the worst of the capital sins by many people. We ought to remember that Humility is a trait that needs to be worked on like any other, sometimes with top priority.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ couldn't emphasize this enough in His teachings, so I think this is especially important to us Christians, but of course this also applies to followers of other religions and philosophies of life: we need to pay attention to our attachments as followers of a certain doctrine or philosophy, and the sense of superiority from others that comes with them.
  5. Well said. I agree that everyone should pay attention to their attachments. But our fallacies do become clearer when we truly turn to Christ, for the spirit will reveal them to us. So Christians have this advantage.
  6. Donijuan

    Donijuan Fapstronaut

    The truth is everything that is too much never be good, everything must be balanced, yeah Everything. Me too was in your place before, addicted to self improvement, having effort to become best version of yourself is good but when i'm doing new habit that's so many it takes my willpower too much and then i forget who i was, i didn't accept myself that is what was lack of me in the past.

    the feeling that you are worthy and enough, Self-improvement is a cycle within Self-acceptance. After your effort that doing self improvement, when your willpower drained that's when you accept yourself "yeah doing exercise for a new habit is enough, let me do other habit when exercising becoming less using willpower and become autopilot".

    Habit drain your willpower, that's why i keep keystone habit, it's a habit that you focus on like meditating/exercising that can lead to healthy habit. i'll always keep it one at a time when creating new habit.

    Hope this help dude!
  7. CBook

    CBook Fapstronaut

    I share your experience of Him who has the power to truly set us free. Thanks for sharing this story and advice!
    SwedishViking likes this.
  8. You delight my heart. Happy to hear!
  9. Thanks for the reply! I agree with implementing one habit at a time. Did self-acceptance cure your addiction to self-help?
  10. Raven King

    Raven King Fapstronaut

    SwedishViking, I can relate to your story. I've been trying to balance trusting in Jesus and striving to improve myself. Sometimes, when I find myself trying to do all the work myself, and I notice how tiring it is, I remind myself that I can rest in Jesus. Your story was a good reminder. I think sometimes I rely too much on my own effort, but I know I cannot change my life without him. In fact, Jesus died and rose again so that we could live a life in freedom. It's amazing to think about.

    Tack så mycket!
    SwedishViking and Donijuan like this.
  11. Donijuan

    Donijuan Fapstronaut

    It does ease my mind about self help and yes it cured my addiction to it, reminding me about how much i'm progressing from the start then realizing i've been in the position that i want before doing self improvement. Self acceptance is a blessing.
    ....... and SwedishViking like this.
  12. Yeap it is all about that execution. Your advice is something we people got to think about. Yet, curiosity is not to be fought, but binge watching these things.. they are created to keep us at a level. A lot of people make money out of it .

    It's about that action .
    ....... and SwedishViking like this.
  13. I am glad you got something out of my story. Gå i frid broder!
  14. Exactly! And I guess if self-help was the complete solution, there would be no need obsessing over it. For it would complete you. But it doesn't. And like you said, people make money from this. From uncomplete people, while simultaneously keeping them that way. Aware of it or not.
  15. I've been in your case. But I haven't experienced the same symptoms you have. For me, it was the dissatisfaction of never having enough.
    The purpose of personal development is to reveal one's true potential. To destroy bad habits and replace them with good ones. To destroy your limiting beliefs so that you can finally be free.

    But the most important thing is to have a purpose in all of this. A purpose that transcends all these actions and efforts. A purpose that makes sense to you. Because it will take effort, investment. It's realizing that you've gotten to where you are right now by doing whatever it is you're doing, so if you're less than impressed with your current situation, you clearly need to change things up. That If you want to live a life you've never lived, you have to do things you've never done. You will have to face your fears, the look of others, rejection, abandonment. You will have to put yourself in extremely difficult situations. You'll have to fall down, more than once. You'll have to get up, and you'll have to go back. You won't have to lie to yourself. You'll have to jump headfirst and be in action most of the time.
    Yes, it will hurt sometimes. But you will learn a lot about yourself and about others. You're going to discover yourself and who you really are deep down inside. You'll finally be able to live freely, without having to prove anything.

    It's also realizing that before you even begin, you've already crossed the finish line. You are enough, you are complete. You don't need anything to be happy. A lot of people think that at the end of the tunnel, they'll finally be happy. That being happy depends on the results. The truth is, we're chasing wind. You already have everything you need. And those who aren't happy just don't look in the right place. Personal development is also about practicing gratitude, being proud of yourself and enjoying every moment. No matter how small.

    For me, personal development has no negative side. There are just pitfalls to avoid. Don't start with a feeling of lack, but start because you love who you are. Start with abundance. Start with love.

    It all depends on how you look at things.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2020
  16. Raven King

    Raven King Fapstronaut

    Well said. I agree with this. Happiness should be based on who we are, what we believe about ourselves, not what we do. If we are basing our happiness on results, then we will fail or just never get enough results.
    ....... likes this.
  17. Who we are and what we believe about ourselves is usually what we do . Or even.. it is. Cause you do you .
    ....... and Raven King like this.
  18. Self-help, so called. Is useful . To get the good info.. and start applying it . For example. It says '' work hard on achieving your goals'' you need to read it once and apply it 1 000 000 times, not read it 1 000 000 times and apply it one .
    ....... and SwedishViking like this.
  19. Raven King

    Raven King Fapstronaut

    I guess what I was trying to say is that your beliefs about yourself will results in your actions. Our actions will reflect our beliefs. So to change your actions, you have to change what you believe about yourself. Some people try to change their actions, but not the way they think and that is very difficult.

    If you believe you can achieve something, it will be easier to do so. If you do not believe it, it will be hard to even start trying.
  20. I totally agree with you. Our beliefs can come from our subconscious mind. Taking action is not enough. There is real work to be done on yourself to change your beliefs.
    ......., Leader of ME and Raven King like this.

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