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The Point Is to Stop

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worldA while ago I wrote an article that argued that the best way to judge the usefulness of self-help advice is how many people end up leaving it behind. In it I boldly argued that if self-help advice actually worked, the industry would soon be out of business. You don’t need to attend a separate seminar.

As expected, many people hated the article. People pinched it to death. I didn’t think my argument was fully formed, and I didn’t think my point was conveyed as delicately as a china shop sledgehammer, so I eventually withdrew the piece. I still believe I am right. And today I would like to give it another push.

Over the years, I’ve found that people who seek self-help do so with two very different mindsets. The first group treats self-help like going to the doctor. Let’s call these “Doctor People”. Maybe their marriage failed, or they’re in an existential crisis, or they’re having trouble coping with some kind of trauma. We want to help you move on and feel normal and healthy again. Turn to seminars. Their mindset is, “I paid you, fix it now!”

Others approach this the same way they learn games like basketball or chess. They want strategy. They want a roadmap. They want checklists. Above all, they want a mentor or coach. Let’s call these “coach people”. Coach People want to know all the right moves. They want to understand the nature of the game on a deep level. If there is a new breakthrough in experience or emotion, they want to have it, they want to conquer it, and they want to be transformed by it.

These two different approaches have advantages and disadvantages. Doctor People have a lot of afflictions, so they are very motivated and tend to listen to you. The problem is that Doctor People sees personal growth as information to be learned rather than a skill to be practiced. Self-awareness is a skill. Managing emotions is a skill. Empathy and vulnerability are skills. You start off terrible and eventually become somewhat good at them. A lot of doctor people get really grumpy when this is said. For example, imagine you go to the doctor with the flu and the doctor starts giving you her three-hour lecture on nutrition and exercise. You fucking hate that guy.

Coaches, on the other hand, intuitively understand that these things are skill-based and need to be worked on over and over and over again for years until they are subconsciously mastered. Just as you perfect your golf swing or free throw shot through steady, conscious practice, you develop self-awareness and emotional management through consistent, conscious practice. Coach people have been in it for a long time. They understand that you won’t just “solve” your personal problems overnight. You have to commit to them. you have to commit to yourself.

But what coach people don’t get is that the point is to finally stop. Because unlike chess or basketball, there is no world championship in anger management. No one is going to give you the mindfulness trophy. No one cares if you managed to control your anxiety yesterday.

In fact, looking at personal growth in terms of achievement and optimization can ultimately hinder personal growth. At some point, trying to manage your anxiety completely will only make it worse. Trying to be completely vulnerable makes it less vulnerable. An obsession with self-awareness ironically lowers self-awareness.

As such, personal development skill sets don’t work like basketball or chess skill sets. Inverts the skill curve. In basketball and chess, the better you get, Further improvement requires more effort. On the other hand, in personal growth, the better, Less effort is required to improve further.

This is because personal development skills have a built-in positive feedback loop. Self-awareness creates introspective questions that naturally lead to self-awareness. Developing productive habits gives you the time and energy to think about how you can be more productive. Better social skills reveal a social life that gives more opportunities to develop better social skills.

Personal development skills are like going downhill on skis. It takes a lot of effort to get up to speed, but once you’re on track, the most effective thing you can do to get up to speed is nothing.

(By the way, “doing nothing” itself is a surprisingly difficult skill.)

I think what coach people miss is that the whole point of this thing is that one day you’ll be able to stop consciously thinking about it. , is to be completely comfortable in a relationship. The way to “win” anxiety is to stop caring about it. The way to “win” with health and productivity is to fully integrate them into your life and stop thinking of them as health and productivity.

Ironically, this is what Dr. People intuitively understands. You can’t stay in marathon therapy sessions or fancy seminars forever.At some point you just have to live your life.

Instead, it is the coach people who have a hard time accepting this. They adopt it as their identity. And when they start to perceive themselves to be “personal growth” figures, they are very likely not only to get hung up on it, but to bore you at dinner parties with stories about ayahuasca retreats. .

When I tried to write that article a few years ago, I think I felt the importance of stopping. But it didn’t work. I was still “in it” too much. I am still mostly perceived as a coach person. Needless to say, my profession relied on me being a coachperson, so it was a bit difficult to see through the haze of my own incentives.

But I think it’s become very clear over the past year, perhaps as the pandemic has made it clearer. It’s time to stop. It’s time to stop thinking about these subjects. It’s time to return to my life.

I started blogging on these topics in 2008. At the time, I was a mess. My relationships were toxic and codependent. I was incredibly unhealthy and hopelessly insecure. I was often entitled and kind of an asshole. My blog became my therapy when I tried to sort out my own shit. The fact that other people got on the ride was both welcome and unexpected.

But I feel good today. i have a great relationship. I am healthier than ever, both mentally and physically. I am generally content with my flaws and lingering insecurities. I have experienced more success than I deserve. I still have issues, but I’m really happy with them.

I am no longer the person struggling at the top of the ski slopes. Feel like a man flying at full speed. But continuing to write on these topics feels like planting Paul in the snow unnecessarily.

In short, it’s time to step out of the world of self-help. The standard roadmap for a self-help writer to publish a hit book is that next he spends 20 or 30 years spitting out the same idea over and over again in different forms, at different stages, cashing the check. It is to become Sounds to me as funny as sticking your dick into a light socket.

Instead, over the past six months, I’ve been busy creating a series of courses that encapsulate my growth philosophy in hours of videos, dozens of lessons, and written and hands-on exercises. They cover everything from resilience to managing one’s emotions to relationship skills to developing self-awareness to challenging one’s own beliefs. It provides practical, real-world exercises and research tools to help students apply the ideas to their own lives.

I’m creating this because I want to preserve all the repositories I’ve worked so hard to learn over the last ten years. It’s my swan song. I want to make the instructions I provide, as well as advice on how to develop these skills, easily accessible and affordable for everyone.

The course will start in the first week of 2022. This is a monthly or yearly subscription and is part of the Mark Manson Premium Subscription. All current members can get full access immediately and maintain their subscription at the current price. Therefore, if you are already a member of the site, you do not need to do anything.

When the course starts next month, I will stop posting to the site for the time being.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still around. We will continue to write a weekly newsletter and post on social media. The transition away from self-help and self-development content will be gradual. It takes time to figure out exactly what you want to do next. But like everything else in my adult life, I write my way into it.

I don’t know where things are going. It can be funny. It can be funny. Some of it can be downright bad at times. But that exploration is part of the fun.

Obviously you might lose some of you along the way. That’s good. Just like I don’t want to write something I’m not interested in, I don’t expect you to read something you’re not interested in. I’ve spent the last few years living with anxiety and fear that I’m “losing my audience” by moving away from self-help content. Don’t bother taking too long to listen to your own advice.

But even if you haven’t read the other words I have written, I have nothing but love and gratitude for you. My experience in this industry over the last 10 years has far exceeded my wildest dreams. I sincerely hope you leave it in better condition than you found it.

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