Feel Free to Help Yourself

July 20, 2009

Have you seen the ‘self help’ section of Barnes & Noble? It’s insane.

From the looks of things, it seems that despite the thousands of books, all the pithy wisdom dispensed by Dr. Phil and Oprah(tm), and all the self esteem training we got as kids in our public school feel-gooderies, most people don’t have one flipping clue about how to take care of themselves, and their lives are in shambles. If one were to visit the self help section for the first time, he might assume that most people are barely capable of pulling on some dirty sweatpants and dragging their dysfunctional selves from their vermin infested homes just to buy the book that will change their lives in five easy steps.

Of course, I don’t believe that. I believe most people’s lives have some modicum of order, are pretty well put together, more or less. Just look at the people who are at Barnes & Noble to buy the self help books! They have jobs that pay the bills. They’re wearing shoes. They have families. Sure, there’s divorces and teen pregnancies and whatnot. There’s problems. But most people who watch Dr. Phil and buy self help books are pretty normal, average, semi-put-together people.

So what’s the real problem?

People still feel like crap about themselves. Despite having it all together, being flipping middle class Americans, most people just feel like their lives are awful or meaningless. They don’t have anything wrong with them like clinical depression. They’re just lazy or selfish or obnoxious. So their little bottom lips start quivering and they buy a book that promises to kiss their boo-boos and make it all better!

So that’s the last realm that the self help industry can help most people with – the one thing wrong with their lives – despite being taught that they were special all their lives, people don’t feel special.

You remember those The More You Know segments on TV? They’re usually geared toward telling people about domestic abuse or something. I actually saw one recently that wasn’t about violence or anything even tangible. It was about the rampant, swine flu-like epidemic of sad sacks feeling sorry for themselves.

The punchline of the 15 second spot? “Before you can love others, you have to love yourself.”

And that’s pretty much the wisdom of Dr. Phil, and all the other gurus of modern society.

What a crock.

What a load of a crock of a bull of complete baloney.

I can’t love others until I love myself? Let’s run down what a day of ‘loving myself’ looks like. I spend the day watching TV. I order all my meals from a fast food joint, because I’m even too lazy to put any effort to feed my lazy face. I don’t do one blasted thing to contribute to society, the economy, or make anyone else’s life better. I purchase myself some sweet DVDs, despite not having worked for them that day.

Guess what. At the end of the day, I feel even worse about myself. But how can that be? I spent all day loving myself, so now I can go out and love other people tomorrow! Of course I feel awful! I was a lazy idiot who didn’t do anything that a man is engineered to do to feel good about!

That’s the problem. Most people spend their whole lives with their eyes on their own special belly buttons loving themselves. There might be a few people who simply don’t have any self respect, or expend themselves on others to their own detriment, but this message is like preaching to the choir that is America. It’s not like everyone is saying, “That’s what’s missing in my life! I’m not spending enough money, time, and energy making myself feel good!” Yeah, aside from all the self-help books you waste money on, you really don’t take care of yourself!

Now I’m not all down on Americans. Americans are the most charitable society on Earth, and no Frenchman can argue with that. But it’s just money. We’ve kind of got a lot of it. So do Canadians, but they still act like babies just because they haven’t seen the sun shine in eight months!

Celebrity tragedies have proven time after time that all the money and power and fame doesn’t amount to squat when that entertainer is alone at night. There’s a bunch of people who are acting like little mini-celebrities, living out their own lifelong pity parties.

You want to not feel like your life is worthless? Make yourself worth something to someone. Love someone like yourself, and you just might feel better about yourself!

This concludes my Public Service Announcement.

What do you do that makes you feel good about yourself?