The answer is yes, most of the time. Many self-help scholars work hard to convince the doubters that their work is of value to the world. They try to make an enormous, often lucrative, impact.
The problem with self-improvement is that it becomes a game of personal competition. Self-help scholars are quick to claim that others’ studies have shown that they’re right, and only a fool or naive person would doubt that. It’s really hard not to feel like the experts are right—and that one’s self-criticism is invalidation of all their work. And while self-improvement is a valid, exciting, and sometimes important work, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. (We’ll talk about why later.)
Self-improvement isn’t for everyone
It’s important to understand that self-help scholars aren’t for everyone. There is a significant, and well-documented, negative stigma with self-improvement (this is partly explained by the stigma people hold of mental illness). So many of the self-improvement studies have been done by those with a medical background and/or those working in mental health settings. It’s common for professionals to discount self-improvement’s value. We want to ensure that scholars are able to work with people they can trust to do the right thing.
You can’t be a self-help scholar alone.
Self-help studies can sometimes be especially challenging for scholars who have a medical training. Academic psychologists and medical geneticists often use self-help studies for their own training—they might want to do them to help the practice of medicine improve (a practice often criticized for how it often devalues mental health and wellness). But medical experts also know that, while medical researchers might be knowledgeable about the study methods, it’s not realistic for them to do everything the scholars are asking for, and those studies often have their own limitations.
This isn’t to say that self-help scholars should be avoided entirely, although there are some self-help scholars who are just as valuable. There are many talented, passionate, and dedicated researchers working on various aspects of self-help in the world. But self-help scholars work best when they collaborate with other scholars.
The goal of a self-guidance study is to help you decide whether what you’re doing is worth it with your goals. It’s not enough to be certain
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