Self-help books, and Youtube

Over on Dr Martina Feyzrakhmanova’s blog she mentioned self-help books and the self-help industry. Also being a lover of books I am familiar with the self-help section of my local library. It’s not so much that I borrow a lot of those types of books but that section (being a small library where things get muddle in together based on a concise version of the duey decimal system) contains other books of interest. That being said, over the years I have borrowed books on Self Motivation and Astrology.

Even books that are about figuring out the world or following some historical trail can just be the author’s personal journey that you’re tagging along in for the ride, such as David Icke’s or Graham Hancock’s books.

In more recent times though, it is not books that inundate me with the self-help mentality, but Youtube. There are many bloggers who put information out in a sort of “here’s some advice” attitude. Some big names churn out daily videos, listing their top 10 things for this life struggle or that. How I’ve come to see that majority of these now though is them not so much helping us through talking to a camera, but them talking to themselves.

Okay, we can glean bits of helpful information from other people but their lives and situations will never match our own, not exactly. This is where I think on the one hand we can pick and choose the advice others give us, but above all else we need to take a step back and listen to ourselves. Not always so easy, I know.

Yoga videos are a strong case in point. From the onset or outside they might look like a benign workout video that you follow along with as best as you can, but if you tune in to actually what’s going on and generally it’s them doing a routine for themselves. The instructors often seem to be very knowledgeable, being an encyclopedia of poses and muscles, and have practised these to the point where they can throw a routine together that works well, pretty much any day, or time, of the week, and give them a topic and they can tailor something to that (more or less; I think sometimes they make that up). Then all of a sudden they wobble and they immediately tell “you” it’s okay to wobble “just find your balance again”. Really they’re not telling us this, they’re telling themselves! It makes me laugh. Sometimes they laugh too.

Popular Youtuber’s are often just good orators, and that’s where we get suckered in. It’s not so much a bad thing; it can be entertaining, no different to TV. And there are similar findings in the world of blogs or Twitter feeds; politicians who have the gift-of-the-gab – that’s how they get their job generally.

And what’s wrong with this? Well, the issue I have is that I become a watcher, not a doer, like the self-help books, if you get sucked in and keep reading this type of thing you maintain yourself as “someone with a problem” rather than just living, and learning from that. And with Yoga I just be someone who follows along with someone else, rather than just doing yoga. Sometimes I wonder how you go from one to the other; there must be a point when you step out of the comfort zone of the former, like a bid leaving the nest, but my concern is, these people don’t want you to leave their nest; they want you to remain as their audience either for ego and prestige, or money too. Like the mechanic who will happily keep changing the oil in your car (and take your money for it) since you don’t have the interest or inclination to learn to do it for yourself.


  1. I think with bloggers/Youtubers it really depends on the tone. I steer away from the instructive ones and towards the ones that just document their life and share their insights. The only instructive ones I like are from genuine experts – and these are very rare.

  2. I definitely get where you’re coming from with all the advice posts. I’d much prefer to hear from someone who is just as messed up as the rest of us and is just trying to figure things out like the rest of us. And I get what you mean about our experiences also being somewhat unique, but there’s always something to commiserate about, and I think that trying to see yourself in someone else’s experience can really help us feel less special, less like our problems are only specific to us. I think sometimes, feeling special can make us feel isolated, so it’s nice to get that reality check that we aren’t that special, nor are we alone. We are all in this together. 🙂

    • Thanks for your input Alicia. How “messed up” we are can also be a matter of perspective; on my down days I might see my world through dark eyes, while at other times I’m enjoying my life… or perhaps I see through someone’s façade while they try and show how they’ve got their sh!t* together… when, yes, they’re probably just like the rest of us.

      *PS. I read some of your blog and noticed how you like that word, although I’m not so much a fan of such words myself 😉

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