How the World of Self Help Died (and the new era of living on your own terms)

How the World of Self Help Died (and the new era of living on your own terms)

The old world of Self Help is dying like a slowly falling giant.

It was based on trying to conform and operate more effectively in an old paradigm. If you look at the shelves of the old Self Help section, they’re filled with books on how to win friends, achieve success, and get more done.

The majority of them were created to help people adhere to a world that was foreign and false. Instead of defining life on their own terms, they came to the conclusion that they were broken and needed fixing. So they went about the work of improving themselves, rather than creating their own rules.

Thankfully, the world of needing to fix ourselves is slowly fading away. A new guard of people radically embracing who they are and living on their own terms is quickly emerging as the dominant force.

The noisy period of 7 Ways to Improve Your Life Instantly! and How to Manipulate Get Anyone To Do What You Want  is expiring. And a quiet, confident era of self-ruling is coming into its own right.

More books, blogs, and courses than ever are staking their claim on the topic of deliberate life design; and the landscape is now dotted with their spires.

This is an amazing time to be alive.

However, there is one thing that threatens to poison this movement before it grows into full bloom.

If we’ve realized that living by our own design is a better answer, yet we blindly follow the path of design so many others are heralding, we’ve simply replaced one pattern with another. And that’s not freedom. Freedom exists beyond patterns.

If we follow the advice of “Do what we want,” but simply mimic the goals of others, nothing changes.

So many people claim that doing what you want involves traveling the world, quitting your job, and following multiple passions. That may be how some define freedom. But we should ask ourselves deeply and honestly how we define living on our own terms. If that happens to align with the cries of freedom of others, so be it.

Right now, a beautiful awakening is happening. The old world of changing who we are to fit in is fading; let’s not replace it with another flavor of the same. Let’s not start a world choir singing one ballad.

You live in an incredible time. Yes, you can do what you want. No, nothing bad will happen if you do. But you have to decide what that is.

Make your own rules. But God forbid, don’t make them based on a template of rebellion.

So, I’m curious to know: What does living on your own terms mean to you?

Leave a comment below.

photo courtesy of tuppus

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113 Comments on "How the World of Self Help Died (and the new era of living on your own terms)"

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JonathanMead
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@EleanorO’Rourke That’s a great question Eleanor. I think the people that are riding this as a fad will get tired and lose interest eventually. People will be able to see through their bullshit intuitively when they buy or interact with them. In general, I think people have really good bullshit detectors.

JonathanMead
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@atishaya You make a good point. I think because the barrier to entry is much lower now, with that comes a lot of people doing things that don’t necessarily have the experience to be speaking from a place of integrity. It’s one thing to advise people on something, it’s another to muse on it for your own purposes.

JonathanMead
Guest

@PriyaFlorence Congratulations Priya. That’s an admirable thing to do when you’re faced with resistance from those you love.

Quimbalicious
Guest

@razielonacid The money aspect of it is what gets me, too. Sooo ready to move on with life. Society, get with the program! I think by next year we’ll all be saying, “Lol, money, so 2011!”

Midliferebel
Guest

Another great post Jonathon to get us to lift our heads and think differently. Personally I ‘m all for lifestyle design with a twist of individuality and hell what’s wrong with a spot of rebellion if the old ways don’t work, as long as your purpose is more expansive than making a million and being a celeb then I can’t see the problem with a rebelistic approach after all I think its those who choose to think then act differently that actually evolve consciousness for mankind as a whole.

rewirebusiness
Guest

@razielonacid Love the “hunt and gather” concept….I actually considered “barter and trade” as an option…I mean…ideally, why could I not trade a goat for web work? The goat gives milk, is a great companion, and provides entertainment…..Seriously though, I hear what you are saying about “the money thing” – – I think the way I’m dealing with it is to reduce the things that are costing me the most money and change what my idea of “how much I need”

rewirebusiness
Guest

@JonathanMead@donna dorrane Hey Jonathan, this is absolutely the truth – I just wrote on being broken and needing to be fixed…we have this idea in our minds (I did anyway) that we need to be fixed and that our behaviors are somehow wrong. But when i finally accepted that I was not broken, and I mean truly accepted it and believed it, then I freed myself to make different choices – – and that is the key…by choosing to not feel broken, I essentially “fixed myself” :)

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[…] here to read the rest: How the World of Self Help Died (and the new era of living on your … keywords: between-covers, Development, like-books, like-sticking, Money, people-looking, success, […]

Emilie
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Hi Jonathan, Great article. I just wanted to add that I don’t believe following many passions to be the answer for everyone. Puttylike is really only meant for multipotentialites– people who have struggled with this particular issue their entire lives, people who have been made to feel that they must limit their exploration and pigeonhole themselves to be accepted. Embracing and building a life around multiple passions absolutely isn’t the answer for everyone. I actually have a major issue with people who make the absolute statements. I believe you should do what works for you, always. Plus once you reject… Read more »
eugeneyiga
Guest
So true! We’re constantly bombarded with stories of people quitting their jobs, selling all their stuff, and running off to some exotic location (why is it always South-East Asia?) to live out their ‘Eat. Pray. Love.’ dream. Whimsical tales like these, when told to people with mortgages and/or kids, can feel a little insulting. Fact is we really don’t have to go to these lengths to do what we love. If we want to and can, we should go for it. But we shouldn’t treat this template as the only way. Another problem with much writing on this subject is… Read more »
wagefreedom
Guest
@eugeneyiga Two great points Eugene. I was thinking about buying a domain and making a site satirizing SE Asia/business in a backpack/etc. websites, as we see so many of them nowadays. Anyway, Jonathan’s point of not buying into anyone else’s dream absolutely has to be said. Dreams are where you make them (come true). Ironically maybe: I write this at my place in Bali…. Jonathan, having come of age in the 70’s and read my share, I’m not sure that we can paint all ‘self-help’ books with the same brush. When they reflected themes of personal responsibility and a hundred… Read more »
JonathanMead
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@eugeneyiga Thanks for your comments Eugene. You’re absolutely right, a lot of it does feel like condescension.

JonathanMead
Guest

@Emilie Thanks for stopping by Emilie! For the record, when I linked to you I wasn’t calling you out or anything, I was just giving an example of what some people jump on as a trend. I absolutely think what I write about here people jump on as a trend as well.

Also, I think there are a TON of people that need to hear what you have to say. I’ve met quite a few of them in my coaching programs. :)

ellobo
Guest
Thank you. Thank you. A little provocative that some people will take the wrong way but overall a message that I’ve felt for a number of years. And not until recently, have there been new inklings of signs of a new version of self help that allows people to determine the life THEY want to lead, that’s important to them as individuals, and meets their priorities. Ironically, when I first read some of your articles like the one about quitting your job and going into business for yourself, I was a little afraid you “didn’t get it” either. You had… Read more »
juliettaj
Guest
I love this! I had the “throw everything in” moment, that is went and wrote in Italy (a book called Me, Myself and Lord Byron). I hope it wasn’t condescending. I was very aware that I had the luxury to do they trip because I am single, childless, mortgage-less. My point was instead of bemoaning what I didn’t have (husband, children, house) I needed to go and celebrate what I did have: the ability to go and live my dream. It was an intense time though. My book is far from a fairytale fantasy. It became a deep excavation of… Read more »
rewirebusiness
Guest
@JonathanMead@eugeneyiga I agree that no one should be condescending but on the other hand, is it really condescending to truly believe that the corporation is soul-sucking and write about it? Perhaps there is a way to do it that is not so condescending. But I, for one, do think that the typical workplace is absolutely the worst place in the world for a human to exist. I would not ever be condescending because I don’t believe in that – but for those of us that have seen the difference and sold houses and did everything we could to work for… Read more »
sassydrcil
Guest

Living on my own terms…….hmmm. I have learned that recently.

Listening to others, but coming to my own conclusion and action based on what intuitively feels right.

Acting with the most respect and honesty towards others and expecting nothing less from them.

That is what I have at the moment.

Owen Marcus
Guest
Yes, one’s man freedom is another man’s rule. We all are passionate about what we are into and want to share it with others. For some our path is their perfect path, for others it’s not. That said, often it better to get on a path than sit on your ass waiting to figure it out or for it to find you. My motto and the tagline for my new book is – as men we aren’t bad or broken and we don’t need to be fixed! Self help came from therapy and therapy for decades told us that something… Read more »
ethanwaldman
Guest

Living on my own terms (to me) means the ability to make a living and pursue multiple interests all at once. That means not having a 9-5 job, which I find to be too rigid to allow me to, say, write a song at 10am when I’m feeling particularly creative, or go for a long bike ride at 3pm when the roads are empty.

ethanwaldman
Guest

@JonathanMead As someone who DOES need to hear what emiliewapnick has to say, I’m psyched that you linked to her! To me idea that we have to pick *just one* interest or specialty is another concept that can get lumped in the “outdated” pile with the classic model of “you are broken self help”.

rewirebusiness
Guest

@ethanwaldman That’s awesome ethan…I think that totally captures my thoughts…it’s more about what works for us individually rather than what someone tells us will work. I’m with you on the 9-5….does not work for me and I’ll take every risk in the world to never go back…it really means that much to me – but that’s just me.

KaraJessRondina
Guest

Great observation! What’s sad and scary about people who have become “free” (at least from the 9 to 5) is they start to feel superior, mock those in happy 9 to 5’s and make them uncool.

Allithia
Guest
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Krishnamurti This question comes to me perfectly timed. I am trying to discover a way to work in a world that operates along lines I have never agreed with. Freedom for me, comes when I am able to do creative and valuable service to the planet on my terms, and not in slavery to a paltry paycheque. Is it really possible to completely define the terms of your worklife in a world that is set up to enslave people? If you do not happen… Read more »
tophat-riot
Guest
Living on my own terms to me constitutes as such: I know this is corny, but I remember a movie saying “if you wake up in the morning, and the first thing you can think of is singing, then you are a singer”. And that’s how I feel about writing. Being career-driven, but also a broke-ass college grad with a useless degree, my best, and easiest form of expression is writing. I know it follows a well-known job template, but the way I see it is while writers still have to work for several hours a day to make a… Read more »
KaraJessRondina
Guest

Btw, “living on my own terms” is doing what i love(writing, photography, community projects and blogging – http://www.heyartist.wordpress.com – to inspire people to be free), while being financially sustained through non-long term contracts.

mountaintopGrp
Guest

Living on your own terms…

Taking action on dreams that have been put inside you for a reason.

Not letting people drag you down to just doing the normal/traditional/acceptable/safe things again.

JonathanMead
Guest

@mountaintopGrp I love the way you said that “taking action on dreams that have been put inside you for a reason.” That’s awesome.

JonathanMead
Guest

@Allithia That’s the perfect quote Allithia. Damn, I wish I would have thought of that!

PaigeBurkes
Guest
Living on my own terms, for me, means owning my life and my time. Living in a way that works for me and my family. My passion is showing people that there is another way to live – their way. I love working with people to dig deep and figure out what their passions are and show them the steps they can take to get there. Most people are shocked to see that it’s actually possible. Living on my own terms means finding ways to add value to other people’s lives in a way that lights my inner fire. And… Read more »
M ary
Guest

I enjoyed your comment!!!!!

seascape007
Guest
Living on your own terms is a place to come from, not a place to get to. Like Happiness, it is also a place to come from, not get to. The search for either is the trap for never finding it. One of our greatest pitfalls as humans is we think we have to believe everything we think. Our “searching” thoughts leaves us either in the future or past and not in the present. Living on our own terms is a moment by moment way of being. It is choosing it now and now and now. When we master this… Read more »
remainfearless
Guest
Very well said seascape. It’s certainly a learning process. I think sometimes we get caught up in our heads with thoughts and concepts. We read something and say “yes, totally, I get that….live in the present, that’s correct,” yet we don’t take the time to train and work with our mind. I think it’s extremely important to practice what we preach. Notice when thoughts come up that pull us away from the present moment. Notice when we get caught up in them. Explore that with curiosity and non-judgement. It’s certainly a lifetime practice that never stops and we must be… Read more »
the90thatmatters
Guest
Freedom for me has everything to do with acting on your first thought when you wake up without restraint or pressure to do so. I told someone recently that “I think the work that my company does is important, but I just do not think its important that I do it” so I will be leaving in about 2months and ever since I picked a date I feel great about it! Will I work again? Absolutely! However my next assignment will involve me bringing unique value and looking forward to Sunday nights instead of dreading them because on Monday I… Read more »
antwondavis
Guest
Living on my own terms is living what I call an Epic Life: “To be true to oneself and to be content with one’s life.” Living on my own terms is about creating a life that I believe in, and loving the journey. It’s about staying in constant alignment with what I value and what I love. I value autonomy and authenticity. So having the freedom and independence to explore and discover all of what life has to offer is very important to me. Also, being true to self and always being comfortable with questioning things is what keeps me… Read more »
JanMechank
Guest

Brilliant article. I recommend reading the book Get Me Adjusted. This is the type of book that is NOT self help. It’s about attitude in general, which has a huge influence on what we do and how we see things. This book does not tell you to do this or that or tells you how other people sorted themselves out. It explains how attitude works and once read you can ‘get on with radically embracing who they are and living on your own terms’ This is where I got the book: http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?fListingClass=0&fSearch=get+me+adjusted

iamjakeocallaghan
Guest

Thank you for saying what I have been thinking for a while. Gone is “how to win friends and influence people” and in are being yourself,. And if people don’t like you, so be it.

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[…] stammt von Jonathan Mead, er wurde erstmals auf seiner Website Illuminated Mind unter dem Titel How the World of Self Help Died (and the new era of living on your own terms) veröffentlicht. Übersetzung: Mike Kauschke. Teilen […]

justinmiller06
Guest

Living on my own terms means the extinction of the personal boundaries that I put upon myself. Or any of us for that matter. Those thoughts of ” I’m not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, I don’t have the resources, etc…” opening up to the possibility that we as humans might not be limitless but our spirit is.

alinekatie
Guest

“Be that self which one truly is.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard
 

ZenHarvests
Guest

It’s not so much the patterns themselves that are the problem. For the majority of people, it’s an attachment to particular patterns, combined with a desire to fit in and always be liked, that really mucks things up. And for a smaller number of folks, it’s an attachment to never having any pattern that causes the trouble.
 
The way I see it, freedom means being able to let go of patterns and go free-form when your life calls for it, but then be able to work with patterns when your life calls for that.

Kaylee
Guest
Ha! I was just thinking about this… I realized that what I’m doing with my blog is pretty much based off of everyone else. What “they” say to do, how to write, design, etc. While there’s definitely validity in learning from others, I think it’s become a bit stifling. Once I realized that, this idea just flooded my mind. It was thrilling and energizing and I just couldn’t stop smiling. Of COURSE, doubt crept in – that’s not what I’m supposed to do with my blog, y’know? Well your reminder couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m going to… Read more »
Carol Walczak
Guest
Yes the world of self help is changing, as human consciousness changes. I have had a hard time blogging consistently about anything in the self help area for the past couple of years because I myself am a work in progress, so I don’t have “the answer”. I think now that perhaps freedom is the answer. But to have true freedom, I need to go beyond fear. That is a very personal journey. I’m getting increasingly unable to tolerate lack of freedom, and increasingly confident in being myself. I suppose I’ll just make the break one day and that will… Read more »
Gaby Smith
Guest
This is so refreshing, thanks Jonathan. I’ve been wanting to dissect and articulate my hangups with the whole self-help world for a while. I do say, you pretty much sum up my thoughts on the topic. Strangely, I am still attracted to this area of the bookstore. Why? Because even though I know (intellectually) that I am okay and don’t need fixed, I–and I think many others–still operate from a needs-fixing standpoint. It’s deep and habitual. I agree that many of the self-help fads have changed; instead of wishing to be more “successful” and “win” the values have changed to… Read more »
Tal Gur
Guest

Great post. “What does living on your own terms mean to you?” – Waking up in the morning and deciding in that moment what to do with the rest of the day :)

Brandon Cook
Guest

Great blog man! I’m loving what you’re putting down here. To me, living on your own terms means providing value to the world in a way that allows me to express myself through the mediums I truly enjoy (music and writing.) To be able to enjoy and take advantage of a sunny day when it arises, instead of being cooped up in an office. haha

Jean
Guest

Potato, potatoe… it is still all the same high carb self-absorption.

Batya Yaniger
Guest

To live on your own terms you have to know yourself, respect yourself and be true to yourself. You have to be totally present for what’s going on around you and what you’re experiencing inside you. It means doing what you care about. It means being in the driver’s seat of the car that’s your life.

Carrie Dale
Guest

brilliant..just effing brilliant. this is the best thing I have read in awhile. now i will go burn all my self help books.

ScrewtheSystem Joe
Guest

Great observation Jonathon!
The paradigm is shifting, and as a part of that shift, it’s great to see people defining their own measure of success. As you said, the old self – help world was about suceeding WITHIN the system. The new world recognises that traditional measures of success may not actually make us happy. Therefore, we have to define what consitutes success and if it exits OUTSIDE the boundaries of the system (which in most cases I think it will), then we have to be brave enough to pursue it.
Joe

E.H.
Guest

GREAT post. I was literally just writing out my frustrations yesterday afternoon about the culture of self-help. Thank you for thinking through this topic and talking about it.

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[…] called attention to ways the world of work is changing–and how to change with it. He also takes a hatchet to traditional models of self-help. It is always useful to know bomb-chuckers in case you need walls broken […]

Naomi
Guest

Hi Johnathan,

I agree about the self-help books. They can really be patronizing and just obvious.

I’m grateful for the current time. Now more than ever we are encouraged to live on are own terms. There are more entrepreneurs than ever and great websites like this one is what the people have been crying for.

As for living on my own terms… The freedom to work, parent and simply just live needs to be completely within my control… and I love it!

Naomi

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