The personal development stigma

I’m a huge personal development nerd.

My bookshelves are lined with self-help, psychology, leadership, and management books. My favorite conversations involve personal challenges, current issues, and life goals. For the past year, I’ve been trying to work at the intersection of personal development and technology.

Unfortunately, I also feel weird about it.

I’m not particularly proud that I’ve read all my personal development books. It definitely isn’t something that I openly talk about. In general, I get this strange feeling when publicly talking about personal development.

Why is this?

The self help stigma.

There is something uncool about personal development.

If I have to guess, it is because it implies that something is wrong with you.

Bring up your own personal development in company, and you get this strange nod. Internally, they are thinking: why do you need to improve? Is there something wrong with you?

If you bring up personal development with respect to someone else, you risk implying that they aren’t good enough. In general, only close friends talk about the stuff. And even then, not often. (…at least in my personal experience)

The self-help industry doesn’t help.

In fact, it makes it much much worse.

Walk through the bookstore, or browse any self-help on the Internet, and you’ll come up with ridiculous sounding stuff.

  • 3 steps to get your man back!
  • 30 days to a flat belly!
  • How to think your way to your dreams!
  • 10 steps to that promotion!

Does anyone actually believe it? They must.. people must be buying that stuff right?

Personally, I think it sound cheesy. Not only that, it is wrong.

Unfortunately, the reason this is on the shelves, and all over the Internet, is because it works! The industry has become expert marketers and they know what you want to hear: “What you want amazing results in 2 days? Just buy this book!“.

The industry has optimized to grab your attention and convince you to purchase stuff.

I find this very unfortunate. There is so much good stuff to think about with personal development, and the industry ruins its own public perception in the name of profits.

Your turn.

Do you sometimes feel strange about personal development?

Does the industry itself bug you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. This is post number #36 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Check out my current project Soulmix.

2 thoughts on “The personal development stigma

  1. I used to feel the same. Like sharing with people about my interests and speaking about them. Feeling there is stigma associated with something we like is our own feeling about it. I have come to think that no matter what our passions and dreams are, we tend to feel shy about opening them up to the world. This is a typical reaction whenever we want to change and improve ourselves. It’s easier to conform and not to stand out. A friend of mine recently discovered she could sing really well. Well in her 40s, with two kids, a day job and a life like everyone else’s next door, she felt at odds with her newfound dream and ability. At first she wanted to quit pursuing it, because she thought it would be selfish of her to take time for herself to attend further classes and rehearsals. She felt ashamed. And then it dawned on her: why be ashamed of shining who you are to the world?? Be the “nerd”, be the enthusiast, be you. Be that someone who lives not for approval but for improvement. I don’t think of the industry, I think of each book, piece of advice, experience and new realisation I’ve gained from pursuing what makes me tick. A great post, thank you so much and good luck with your blogging challenge. A:)ex

    • “I don’t think of the industry, I think of each book, piece of advice, experience and new realisation I’ve gained from pursuing what makes me tick.”

      Love this. And thanks for the story about your friend. I think you’re right. When we are passionate about something, it means we care more than average which may cause us to feel weird about it. At some point, you just have to be yourself and own it.. because there isn’t really a better option.

      Thanks for dropping by!

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