In spite of his near-constant contemptuous disparagement of the spiritual-not-religious set (including yours truly) The Vile Scribbler makes an excellent point on the topic of self-help:
I see it as being similar to spiritual-not-religiousness in that regard; reinforcing rather than challenging the very egotism that causes so many problems
hmmm. Ok, guilty as charged. I’m not gonna lie; my world is Shanna-centric.
It is certainly a dark side of personal development (my umbrella term for SNR and self-help) but it’s not often acknowledged, except by detractors. Perhaps because of our egotism, we all wish to believe that we’re the ones who are doing it ‘right.’
I’m sure that we can all close our eyes and bring to mind the faces of at least 3 people who, in our perception, are using personal development to further entrench their paradigms and nueroses. But not I! Oh no, certainly not!
It was ever thus; people with too much time on their hands and not enough ‘real’ problems, whinging about how fate and humanity had conspired to drag them down, then constructing transparent ‘exercises’ to self-hypnotize themselves into blissful non-responsibility. The smarter you are, the easier it is to do this to yourself, unless you somehow can bring yourself to be ruthlessly humble and self-effacing.
Being that our cultural programming celebrates the struggle of the individual to find meaning and purpose above and beyond what the masses experience, this is a tough row to hoe. Not exactly in our skill set, is it?
Is there any help for this? I don’t know. The only antidote I am aware of is to not take yourself too seriously. To remember that I am only a puny lifeform with an insignificant impact in the vast scheme of the universe, and the fact that in my secret delusions I imagine myself as a benevolent goddess, beautiful and terrible, is only a terrific comical coup de grace in cosmic humour.