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anti_self_helpI’m not OK, You’re not OK, And That’s OK

The rise and popularity of the self-help movement is enough to astonish anyone. It is something that has not been confined to one country or culture, either. It has swept most industrialized countries the world over. Yet, it is also accused of preying on vulnerable people, taking advantage of their need for gratification and an ego-trip. This is partly where the anti-self help movement comes in to argue that the entire approach taken by most self-help gurus is one that sets the average person up for a big let down in the end.

The Anti-Self Help Movement: “Just Stop Having Problems, Stupid.”

People sick of self-help programs, aids, and books have put together a new movement. This movement is focused on a different approach to life and the self. Instead of building people up to believe that they are capable of any number of amazing feats, it stresses the importance and value of self acceptance vs self help. This is a drastic shift from the diatribe of the self-help gurus that insist that everyone is capable of moving beyond their faults. Instead of attempting to conceal character flaws, or recreate oneself, people are encouraged to accept their flaws as a part of who they are. Each individual is valuable just as he or she is. This is the underlying message of the anti self help movement.

The new movement does incorporate many features of the self-help and support group culture. For example, it is actually quite easy in most cities to find a twelve-step program for self-acceptance. In these programs the goal is not to overcome faults or move beyond perceived failures at all. The purpose is to recognize faults, and then accept them as a part of the self. This new movement is made up a variety of people. Of course there are those that have tried everything else and are now sick of self-help programs and books that continually lead them to believe that they can overcome aspects of their own personalities or characters. It also includes those that have been critical of the self-help movement from the very beginning. Many people view the basis of self-help programs as nothing more than a set up for failure. It teaches people to have inflated egos, and more confidence than they should, only so that they will be bound to fail in the end. There is no way for a person to live up to the standards that she sets for herself when she is expecting flawless execution of a task on her own part. Furthermore, it teaches people that are too critical of themselves that this criticism could make things much worse and that they need new habits or outlooks on life in order to be successful, and these new outlooks perhaps should be less self-critical or even less self-centered in approach. Concentrating on the universe outside the ego maybe the way to go instead of constantly focusing inward all the time.

Coming from a vantage point of self-acceptance programs, or the anti-self help movement, a person is far more likely to be successful if she has taken the time to get over her own shortcomings and accept them, and finally reckogonize the outside. Once accepted then she can begin to devise ways to cope with the outside world so that she can still succeed in her job, or her endeavors at home and in relationships. Although the culture and set-up of the programs may seem incredibly similar, there is an unmistakable paradigm shift in the actual content from the inner world, to the more practical outside world that we all share.

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