"Self Help"

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23 Nov 2019 21:34 - 23 Nov 2019 21:41 #345987 by JamesSand
"Self Help" was created by JamesSand
Hello Friends :)

This isn't going to be nearly as interesting or controversial as many topics, so I expect to see this fall off the radar with half a dozen replies tops, but who knows?

I was in a bookstore the other day, and I noticed that damn near the biggest section is "Self Help"
Everything from The Secret to the 4 Hour Body to the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Authors promising to teach you the secrets of bushido, unlock your zen powers, free your mind, and unleash your inner god...whatever.


My questions are these....

1) How many of these things are utter BS - and how do you know* without handing over your hard earned, and valuable time?
2) How many of these are just repackaged philosophical ideas, make into a half dozen dot points (dragged out into paragraphs or chapters) to make either goal-achievement, or expectation management something palatable to the barely literate?
2a) Is that such a bad thing?

Does anyone here follow, or recommend particular "self help" handbooks? (I don't need to know the author, just wondering if you prefer contemporary sugary snacks of life advice, or the meatier classic style with all the entrees and garnishes and desserts that come with it that can make it take a long time to enjoy and digest....)



*My "go to" system for assessment of any given article or documents value is that if it has a number in the title, it is probably garbage.




I'll give one example of a popular local book that I read, and hate, but recommend for others - "The Barefoot investor" - it's basically a financial guide for Australians. Written by a millionaire / investment manager.
It is written in an approachable, understandable, and "down to earth" way, in language that many working class folks relate to.

It's all also information that is free on our Australian Government run Financial Advice website, right down to the "worked examples" (but the ones in the book have fun relatable tales to Janet the Hairdresser or Bob the Landscaper, to help you relate the math to your own bland circumstances, and "hand drawn" napkin sketches, to further make you feel you are getting this advice from a trusted mate at the pub, and not some millionaire share trading prick)

Point is - the information in it is in no (five two letter words in a row?) way special, unique, or not readily accessible for free, but it is delivered in such a way that it is one of the best selling books in the country.

Some would say that makes it a very good book.

So to circle back to the topic at hand -

How do you decide (before handing over your hard earned and time) whether a "self help" book is just a massive ass-pull and cash grab by some author, or a decent deciphering of a philosophical model that works for you delivered in plain terms and "Actionable" steps?

and (as per 2a), assuming there is nothing new under the sun - Is it necessarily wrong to have "packaged" product, possibly modified to suit the particulars of your zeitgeist, or is it better to seek out the ancient texts, get mired in the lost metaphors and translation gaps, but buoyed by the gravitas offered by dead people, now offered near-deity status by time and tradition?



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Last edit: 23 Nov 2019 21:41 by JamesSand.
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23 Nov 2019 22:12 - 23 Nov 2019 22:19 #345994 by OB1Shinobi
Replied by OB1Shinobi on topic "Self Help"
One important point is to understand the difference between charisma and competence. Theres hundreds of self help gurus out there making quite a good living because they are articulate and charismatic. That doesnt mean that what they tell you is really going to change your behavior for the better, over time. When i look to “self help” books i usually have very specific topics in mind (some particular branch of psychology, latest techniques for treating depression or anxiety, research on how to have a healthy marriage, research on child behavior and learning) and i seek out authors who have degrees and either published research or clinical or professional experience in the field. I look for citations at the back of the book to see how they justify what they say. I avoid authors whose job it is to bounce around, “inspiring” and “motivating” people. I prefer to learn about specific categories of interest from people who have specialized in those categories.

People are complicated.
Last edit: 23 Nov 2019 22:19 by OB1Shinobi.
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23 Nov 2019 22:29 - 23 Nov 2019 22:31 #345995 by JamesSand
Replied by JamesSand on topic "Self Help"

When i look to “self help” books i usually have very specific topics in mind (some particular branch of psychology, latest techniques for treating depression or anxiety, research on how to have a healthy marriage, research on child behavior and learning) and i seek out authors who have degrees and either published research or clinical or professional experience in the field


Would you necessarily call research papers on successful marriages to be a "self help" book? -
Certainly it could be helpful - but I suppose it is in the intent and manner of delivery - did they do the research because they wanted to sell a book on how to have a good marriage, or because they are social science nerds and that's just the sort of thing they like researching - (now the Five Love Languages is a self help book - look at it, it's got a number in the title! that's how you know!)

It's not something I've ever bothered looking into (as I'm sure my partner will attest) - but I suppose I would not say that non-fiction research and "Self help" are the same category.

Certainly the former is probably a lot less likely to be stocked in the nearest commercial bookstore or listed as a new york times "bestseller"....



Shall I put you in the category of you prefer the raw, unfiltered knowledge of the old wise masters (even if they are actually young poverty stricken uni students), to sift through on your own terms and take from it what you will?
Last edit: 23 Nov 2019 22:31 by JamesSand.
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23 Nov 2019 23:00 #345998 by Rex
Replied by Rex on topic "Self Help"
I tend to think self help is just the spiritual predecessor to clickbait links.

It's for people who get sucked in by the title and concept without the patience to do their due diligence and try to get a passable understanding of the subject.

Relationship ones seem the worst imo. I've had several friends who I found out followed pick up artist materials because they felt their relationships were deficient. It seems like that's trying to take a shortcut instead of putting in effort to be a decent person and socialize to meet people. The current fad I see is the enneagram, which really seems like a horoscope for people who think they're too good for old school astrology.

Maybe I'm just a bit of a masochist

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23 Nov 2019 23:28 - 23 Nov 2019 23:38 #346002 by OB1Shinobi
Replied by OB1Shinobi on topic "Self Help"

JamesSand wrote:

When i look to “self help” books i usually have very specific topics in mind (some particular branch of psychology, latest techniques for treating depression or anxiety, research on how to have a healthy marriage, research on child behavior and learning) and i seek out authors who have degrees and either published research or clinical or professional experience in the field


Would you necessarily call research papers on successful marriages to be a "self help" book? -
Certainly it could be helpful - but I suppose it is in the intent and manner of delivery - did they do the research because they wanted to sell a book on how to have a good marriage, or because they are social science nerds and that's just the sort of thing they like researching - (now the Five Love Languages is a self help book - look at it, it's got a number in the title! that's how you know!)

It's not something I've ever bothered looking into (as I'm sure my partner will attest) - but I suppose I would not say that non-fiction research and "Self help" are the same category.

Certainly the former is probably a lot less likely to be stocked in the nearest commercial bookstore or listed as a new york times "bestseller"....



Shall I put you in the category of you prefer the raw, unfiltered knowledge of the old wise masters (even if they are actually young poverty stricken uni students), to sift through on your own terms and take from it what you will?


I was specifically referencing John and Julie Gottman, who have been studying and publishing on the topic of marriage for something like 20 years and are generally regarded as the most prominent leaders in the fields of marriage and relationships. Ive read a couple of their books and i can honesty say they helped me to mature as a person.

I consider anything to be self-help if it purports to teach you ways of behaving that will improve your life. I roughly divide this into educators and motivational speakers. Motivational speakers are just confidence men, imo; theyre confident and articulate and know how to rile people up into a frenzy of heightened emotion but at the end of the day, no ones real life behavior a thally changes. Educators, on the other hand, analyze specific aspects and contexts of the human experience and give a breakdown of specific and proven tools for understanding and navigating those contexts.

Im not sure what you mean when you say “old masters”. To me, this conjures images of monks who either speak in circles or else dole put fortune cookie proverbs. I look for people who have actual experience with the topic and offer specific recommendations about how to adjust specific behaviors in order to achieve specific outcomes and who can plausibly explain the link between the behavior and the outcome.

People are complicated.
Last edit: 23 Nov 2019 23:38 by OB1Shinobi.

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23 Nov 2019 23:38 #346004 by JamesSand
Replied by JamesSand on topic "Self Help"

Relationship ones seem the worst imo. I've had several friends who I found out followed pick up artist materials because they felt their relationships were deficient. It seems like that's trying to take a shortcut instead of putting in effort to be a decent person and socialize to meet people.


Just saying "put in the effort to be a decent person" is a bit of a cop out.
Why even have TotJO? Just put in the effort to follow jediism....
Why have schools? just put in the effort to be knowledgable....
etc etc -

but I will let that segue into what is a possible issue with "self help" (and clickbait? and the entire diet industry) is predatory "helping"

pick up artists (and any man who ever admits to reading or watching their material) cop a lot of flack - and in the terms of the "Artist" that is possibly earned, but I'm not in a position to determine if they believe they are doing the wrong thing or attempting to be genuinely helpful - much like anyone else trying to make a buck being helpful.

Let's say you're unfit, and you want to get fit, so you get the yellow pages (uhh, business directory) and call AAA Fitness (there's always an AAA - service, they're the ones who understand the alphabet and want to be the first ad in the category....)

So Chad the Personal Trainer comes to your house and says "Well, Tubby, the trick to fitness is running, so today we're going to run" and you run.
Now maybe Chad is not a bad trainer, maybe he helps you with running, you do some intervals, you do some long distance, and it works for a bit! Thanks Chad! - but then you get knee injuries, or shin splints, or hip woes - now Chad is causing injuries!
Bad Chad! Chad is a monster!

Of course, it's possible that Chad simply doesn't know enough to be a good source of holistic information and training for fitness...

but is it your fault for hiring Chad? should you have known better? how would you have known better?

Many folks just want answers, and they're willing to trust literally anyone who might be able to help - whether it is the free to air news channels, the book with the brightest dust jacket in a store, or that guy on youtube.

It's not fair (of me, or you) to say "just put in the effort to be better" but provide no guidance of our own as to where that effort should go? why wouldn't they go to an accessible source of info, that at face value, is as good as any other? (I refer to my first example of the Barefoot Investor finance book - the information is readily accessible, and for the most part "obvious" - but there is nothing to be gained by berating people for buying the book instead of learning it through some other means....)


Of course, Self Help authors, or the inspiration speech circuit, etc, are not Doctors (or accountants, or any of the other regulated industries), they are under no ethical or legal obligation to have any idea what they are talking about or provide reasonable advice.

(Australia has, I believe on more than one occasion, stepped in at a parliamentary level to prevent Pick up artists specifically from speaking in the country, on the grounds that their advice is so dangerous as to be harmful to the fabric of society, but I daresay that was in response to some public outcry or another, not because they trouble themselves day-to-day with the validity of any information given out in seminars or published in paperbacks...)
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23 Nov 2019 23:49 #346006 by JamesSand
Replied by JamesSand on topic "Self Help"

Im not sure what you mean when you say “old masters”. To me, this conjures images of monks who either speak in circles or else dole put fortune cookie proverbs. I look for people who have actual experience with the topic and offer specific recommendations about how to adjust specific behaviors in order to achieve specific outcomes and who can plausibly explain the link between the behavior and the outcome.


Yeah, I didn't like that when I wrote it, it didn't feel right. I guess what I was trying to say was "All the data - for you to assess and analyse with your own powers of deduction, or bite sized pre analysed points, gifted as clear (or unclear?) instruction"

I think it's a matter of how you learn though - you're a...science kinda guy, you like lots of polysyllabic words that sound good.

If someone says "Tell your wife she's pretty, 'cause that's how women are" you'll probably roll your eyes, but if they say (and I'm making this up for the sake of the example)
"tell your wife she's pretty because 84% of females have enlarged left ventricles and verbal praise of their physical attractiveness activates their flux capacitors and enhances their tape worm bio-synchonocity to improve retina function" you might say "Well that sounds like a valid reason to say specific words, and the double blind lab tests back up the statement! I'll do that from now on!"




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23 Nov 2019 23:50 - 23 Nov 2019 23:55 #346007 by OB1Shinobi
Replied by OB1Shinobi on topic "Self Help"

Rex wrote: I tend to think self help is just the spiritual predecessor to clickbait links.

It's for people who get sucked in by the title and concept without the patience to do their due diligence and try to get a passable understanding of the subject.

Relationship ones seem the worst imo. I've had several friends who I found out followed pick up artist materials because they felt their relationships were deficient. It seems like that's trying to take a shortcut instead of putting in effort to be a decent person and socialize to meet people. The current fad I see is the enneagram, which really seems like a horoscope for people who think they're too good for old school astrology.

Maybe I'm just a bit of a masochist


Dude, i recommend two “experts” on relationships. First, for meeting women and getting dates, this guy


Second, if you ever find someone youd for real like to marry and have a family with (and they feel the same, lol) the Gottmans.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert
www.amazon.com/dp/0553447718?tag=duckduc...kCode=osi&th=1&psc=1

Obviously i am suggesting self-help gurus... they have numbers in the titles :P

And more recently:

The Science of Couples and Family Therapy: Behind the Scenes at the "Love Lab"
www.amazon.com/dp/0393712745?tag=duckduc...kCode=osi&th=1&psc=1

People are complicated.
Last edit: 23 Nov 2019 23:55 by OB1Shinobi.
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24 Nov 2019 00:58 #346011 by Carlos.Martinez3
Replied by Carlos.Martinez3 on topic "Self Help"
There was a video of a false “Guru” who began to see results from people trying... and it upset him to the point of throwing his balance off. His intention was to poke fun of a movement such as what resulted was real peoples life’s changed... dispute him NOT being real or even authentic.
This video was sent to me from my old Training master as something to think about.
Self help - can this idea be the same as self reflective and even character search as much as it’s a spiritual and physical thing for some. -Just depends on who’s flying the plane. -
There are a lot of shame and even flat out false ideas made for money and still - some will find their peace in it and others may not. Who am I to judge or even cast any type of what things should and should not be for some one else. Knowing for myself helps me. Finding out what hits my buttons is a everyday search and truthfully you never know till ya try. Yea- really y’all - there’s a lot of stuff out there with lots of different intent but the only truly important intent some times is how YOU intend to use what ya found. Does it make me a jerk or not ... that’s another tale for another time.
Self help from Barnes and nobles is way different in my library and that of my friends. What’s availbe and what is actually usable for some can be like butter and mustard ... or public and private library.

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24 Nov 2019 01:30 #346014 by Rex
Replied by Rex on topic "Self Help"
I should clarify, I can't necessarily define it but I know a cheap shortcut when I see it. That's what I find problematic

Sure saying "be perfect" is a cop out, but people would much rather hear that they're great and just misunderstood which is someone else's fault

Maybe (read yes I am) I'm privileged to know people who are professionals in health, law, psychology, etc. fields. So it's easier to ask them where they got their info for a given problem. I generally stick with 5 why's but that number is arbitrary, and I'm far from an expert in anything.

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