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The Cult Of Self-Help

Updated: May 26

The number of self-help gurus has skyrocketed lately. There’s one around every corner. Each of them forming their own cult. Selling the same stuff with different packaging. And I’ll come to that in a minute. Seeing their following will only make you think, they’re doing a darn great job.


The previous era saw a rise of godmen. This era is seeing that of self-help gurus. They are the new godmen. Grand seminars, expensive courses, image building (looking rich and genuine) and ruthless PR are all the new normal. Whatever field or profession you belong to, there is more than one waiting for you.

* My sister Nittyaa made this on my request. Check out her website here.


What they teach you.


What they do is create an illusion. First, they tell you can achieve anything. That you can have the nicest car. That you can have the biggest house. That you can travel around the globe all you want. That you can be rich. You just need to work hard enough.


Next, they oversell the idea of struggle. They make it seem grand and heroic. The more you struggle the better. The longer your days are the better. The more pain you endure the better.


All in all, what you get is a dose or fix of motivation. This fix of motivation is nothing but a shot of dopamine. The same hormone our brains release when we receive praise, pleasure ourselves, consumption of drugs. Since dopamine is highly addictive, you’re left longing for more.


This combined with their ‘larger than life’, soothing personalities is a deadly mouse trap. These people are master manipulators, they know how to disguise their ulterior motives.


What the problem is.


There are not one or two problems, but a whole lot of them.


If you look closely this is nothing but a masochistic bubble.


At the heart of all lessons is the same teaching, that you can do it.


First, they’re selling the wrong idea of happiness. The materialistic idea of happiness (don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about that). This is a part of their illusion. And you completely buy this idea of happiness or success. Ignoring the fact that what you’re chasing might be not for you.


Second, they never tell you that direction of your efforts might not be the right one. Or that you might have reached the limit of your current skill set and knowledge base. That you might need to simply pivot or change approach.


If the above is true, then no amount of hard work is going to work.


This ‘one size fits all’ approach is equivalent to saying ‘you can build another Taj Mahal with just a hammer’.


Hard work or hustle is only one tool. And it is not enough!


Moreover, there’s absolutely no consideration of the fact that success and failure both, are a result of multiple factors. Multiple tipping points. There is never a single reason, but a series of them.

What you’re setting yourself up for.


What you’re actually doing here is just pushing the judgment date away. But pushing it away doesn’t make it disappear. It's still there.


That’s like setting yourself for a huge disappointment, maybe a breakdown, later on.

This is nothing more than a self-destructive path.


Why you fall for it.


There are a few reasons why you tend to fall for such things.


First, it is the human urge to simplify everything. It is much more convenient to view anything through a binary lens. Because we don’t want to lose control.

Remember, simplifying without understanding is just ignorance.

It is much difficult to say to yourself that the direction of your efforts might have been wrong than to say you didn’t work hard enough.


Second, is their personality. These people have the personality of a con artist. It seems they have done it all. That they have it all figured out. They seem like low-key angels. But this is all a part of the illusion. They have a magnet effect on people. Without realizing, you’d be rooting for them, protecting their reputation as your own.


But you must always remember what author Kate Murphy says in her book,

“What you know is a persona and not a person, and there’s a big difference”.

These personas, images, fake fronts are much easier to forge than doing the real work. They will often lack substance.

Final thoughts.


I urge you all to take stock of your situation. Don’t fall for these stupid traps. Whatever knowledge you require is already available. Books are a great medium to gain such knowledge. Nobody can help you more than yourself. Be aware. Go do the real work. There will never be a substitute for that.


One more thing.


If you think I’m angry or that I’m biased, you’re absolutely right, I am.

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Suyash Dev Gupta, suyashdevgupta@gmail.com

India, USA, Bangalore, New Delhi, speciality coffee, specialty coffee reviews, best business book review, latest book reviews, introvert blog

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© 2020 by Suyash Dev Gupta. 

Views and opinions expressed on this site are purely mine. They represent no one, but me.