Is the self-help industry good?
- ‘Self-help’ is defined as 'the action or process of bettering oneself or overcoming one's problems without the aid of others, especially: the coping with one's personal or emotional problems without professional help.'
- Self-help is one of the bestselling non-fiction genres, whose overall market value is predicted to grow over $13 billion in 2022.
- According to Market Research, the self-help market was worth $10.5 billion in the U.S. as of 2020, adding that Marketdata 'forecasts 6.0% average annual growth to $14.0 billion by 2025.'
- NPD Group reports “unit sales” of the self-help book genre “have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% since 2013, reaching 18.6 million in 2019.”
The self-help industry has assisted many people in achieving their goals. Life, career, parenting, weight loss, and fitness goals—the list is endless! While some of these endeavors may seem cheesy or overblown to some, they have proven incredibly useful to those who have utilized the programs. With information and insight that some may not otherwise have access to, they make for great resources for the endeavors people may want to pursue and achieve.
Many who have acknowledged they have a problem or simply an area of their life that may need improvement have utilized some form of self-help program to get themselves back on track. It allows people to hold themselves accountable for their own lives and decisions, therefore improving their quality of life, generally speaking.
Some of the information in these self-help programs is original to the program itself, which gives access to the information that may greatly help the people who want it. This extra information is a tool many will use and have used to better themselves and possibly even those around them. Regardless, the idea of people researching areas of self-help points to a person’s self-awareness and capacity for reflection, leading to them understanding a change is needed in their life. This is something to be respected, not condemned.
In addition to the traditional self-help programs, there are also medical self-help groups, which studies have shown are also highly helpful when one is dealing with medically related adversity. This includes recovering from a physical ailment or coping with a mental disorder. Self-help is not always the over-the-top commercials many see online or every book available for purchase and has led to many people improving their lives in various important areas.
The self-help market is smoke and mirrors, robbing people of their time, money, and their true selves, literally helping them buy into the myth of someone else's success. This successful person is often called a 'self-help guru,' a term veiling the likes of plagiarizers and criminals. 'The dirty little secret of those in the advice business is that we wind up teaching others the lessons we most need to learn ourselves,' writes one former guru. Gurus tout advice on career-building, stress reduction, and finances, meanwhile knowing just as much as their audience, leaving a fine line between 'guru' and 'charlatan.'
Although, self-help consumers merely act as a product of their environment: a society obsessed with self-improvement and achieving success. The $10 billion industry feeds off our modern individualist and competitive culture, while also fueling it. Self-help gurus or influencers are appealing: they seem perfect, know how to make others perfect, and even care to help the lowly who aren't. However, in order for gurus to capitalize, they rely on large audiences resulting in 'one-size-fits-all' marketing. For instance, 'positive thinking' is a popular term today. While positive thinking can be useful, self-help can take to extremes, labeling certain thoughts or emotions as negative. Conversely, it's healthier to acknowledge and accept your feelings.
This may assuage self-esteem issues, but self-help can be empty promises of perfection for the 52.9 million Americans struggling with mental health. The pain of not living up to these influencers' 'perfection' can be devastating and worsen mental health issues to dangerous depths. Self-improvement looks different for everybody. When people look to themselves to find what's best, they'll find a personal power that can't be handed to anyone and toss the self-help book.