Monday, December 20, 2021

The Point is to Stop - a farewell to self help coaching

I want to pass on some points, paraphrase, and central clips from what is essentially a swan song offered by Mark Manson in his latest newsletter - a newsletter whose contents I have mentioned in a number of previous MindBlog posts. This Manson essay hits me between the eyes, because I'm very aware that one of my main motivations for doing this MindBlog since Feb. 2006, with it's 5,220 posts (and counting) is that it has turned out to be valuable self therapy for Deric (with this abstracting of Manson's current article being one example). 

He begins by referencing an older article noting that 

...the best way to judge the usefulness of self-help advice is by now many people eventually leave it behind.
He notes that people who seek out self help.. so with two different mindsets... the "Doctor People" ...look to a book, website or seminar to cure their emotional ails... the "Coach People"...want a mentor or coach..They want strategies, roadmaps, to know the right moves...the problem is that Doctor People see personal growth as information that is to be learned rather than a skill that must be practiced...Self-awareness, managing emotions, empathy, vulnerability are skills can take years to become somewhat good at them... Coach People are in it for the long haul.
But what the Coach People don't get is that the whole point is to eventually stop. It's to leave. Because unlike chess or basketball, there's no world championship for anger management. Nobody is going to give you a trophy for mindfulness...the skill curves are different...In basketball or chess, the better you get, the more effort is required to further personal growth, the better you get, the less effort is required to further improve...personal growth skills have positive feedback loops bakes into them.. like skiing takes a lot of effort to get some speed going, but once you're on your way, the most effective thing you can do to gain speed is nothing.
...what the Coach People miss is that the whole point of this stuff, the way to 'win,' is to one day be free of consciously having to think about it...At some point, you just have to live your damn life...Coach People who identify as the "personal growth" not only get trapped by it, but are likely to bore you at dinner parties with their stories about their ayahuasca retreats.

And, at this point in the article, Mason declares that he is going to leave behind his career as a Coach Person, move on from the self help world he started writing a blog about in 2008, the blog being his own therapy as "I tried to sort through my own shit." 

And now,

I'm no longer the guy at the top of the ski hill struggling to get going. I feel like the guy flying down, full speed continue writing about these topics feels like unnecessarily planting my poles into the snow...the standard roadmap for self-help authors when they produce a hit book is to spend the next 20-30 years regurgitating the same ideas over and over again in various formats, on various stages, cashing the checks as they go. To me that sounds about as interesting as sticking my dick in a light socket...I've spent a lot of the past few years anxious and insecure that I would "lose my audience," by stepping away from self-help content. It's taken me way too long to listen to my own advice and just not give a fuck.

Manson then describes how he plans to leave behind a repository (The Subtle Art School) of what he has worked so hard to learn the past ten years, and leave his blog as an archive for posterity. 

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