“I’m not a self help book, I’m just a fucked up kid.”
Back when I was sixteen and a teenage punk with depression, this was my favorite lyric ever. I’m not a self help book. I’m not a walking list of what not to do. I’m just a girl with some issues, and if you get something from that then cool, but I’m not here and suffering for you.
Then I was twenty and basically became a self help book, and by a self help book I mean a coach. All of my experiences were now what they weren’t at sixteen-- examples of what not to do. My story could help others, and I loved that.
I joined the online communities. I got to know more people. I found more coaches and I was so excited to meet them. Whereas before my feed on Facebook was nothing but self deprecating memes, now it was non-stop positivity and motivation.
I saw these messages that told me I could control my future and everything about it.
I could control my reality.
I saw messages saying that I attracted whatever it was that happened to me, and at that point I was having increasingly great things happen in my life.
I was attracting that.
That was me.
I was worth all the amazing things then happening in my life.
Then, June hit.
As soon as the first day of June rolled in, it’s like my mental health issues did as well. The problems I’ve battled for years hit me in the face. All those positive messages from before started warping my perspective a bit.
Part of me thought I was just overreacting. I was just upset. It wasn’t a big deal. I was purposefully attracting my depression.
Then the other part of me was upset because why in the hell would I ever want to attract depression? Of all things? Why would I want to attract debilitating anxiety attacks?
Why would I want to attract any of that?
Then it hit me.
The self help online community is full of bull shit.
The self help community is full of people who decided they wanted to make other people feel like they could do anything, which is great, but they actually don’t know how to handle any other emotion outside of happiness and elation.
The self help community is full of great intentions, but horrible, toxic, and draining ways of making it happen.
I’ve heard people say things such as ‘toxic people don’t exist’ and ‘you’re not depressed you’re just uninspired’ and that completely invalidates people who have abusive relationships that they’re struggling to acknowledge as abusive and unhealthy. It completely shits on people who can’t even get out of bed, and you can forget about showing up as motivational to an entire community constantly.
I am a coach, and it’s because of the industry games I try to be very self aware of the words and messages I’m conveying so my ‘inspirational’ message isn’t just completely condescending.
The self help industry as it is right now will not change the world.
The self help industry as it is has no depth, no value, and is only good for surface level appearances.
The self help industry which should be selfless in nature, has turned into a pay for play game where you have to pay five plus figures for self transformation, and if you don’t have that money to spend you don’t give a shit about yourself.
The self help industry treats the pursuit of happiness as a corporate and capitalistic game-- you only deserve happiness if you can pay for it. Self love and self acceptance are treated as luxuries and a privileges, not as something everyone needs to embrace for their own good.
The self help industry is an industry full of victim blaming when the luxury coach can’t convince someone who makes minimum wage to sell their house for their programs.
So, what happens if I don’t have the money to shell out for a coach?
Do I not deserve self love?
So, what happens if I’m fighting intense clinical depression and can’t show up in the way you need me to?
Am I enabling myself?
The self help industry has turned into an industry where everyone is an expert, a coach, a priestess, a witch, a guru, a maven, a bad ass, a boss bitch, etc., etc., etc., but no one can actually back it.
Everyone wants to empower people but no one wants to talk about the deep rooted issues that stop us from feeling empowered. Even better, no one wants to talk about the systematic and oppressive issues that stop us from just doing “it”. That “it” could be quitting our job or running off with someone. Everyone wants to preach girl power, but no one wants to talk about the issues women are facing or even acknowledge women who aren’t cis, fair skinned and bright eyed.
The self help industry is full of people who are convinced they’re causing hurricanes and tsunamis to form when they’re barely creating waves in a kiddie pool, but they say the former because clients love that shit. Clients buy that shit, and that’s what it’s all about in the end for them.
The self help and coaching industry have caused more harm to me than good this year. And I take accountability when and where I need to. Heck, I take too much accountability typically, but it’s the truth.
If the coaching and self help industry doesn’t change, we are going to cause more harm than good, and that harm isn’t something a morning affirmation, crystal re-charge, motivational novelty t-shirt, and yoga session will fix.