Nobody's Going to Help You, and That's Awesome

I'm not into self-help. I don't buy self-help books, I don't read productivity blogs, and I certainly don't subscribe to self-proclaimed self-help guru newsletters. Reading someone else's advice on the rather generic concept of helping yourself always struck me as a particularly misguided idea.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

I agree completely, and this has manifested itself many-a-time when I’m posting a question on SO. Eventually my mind solves the problem and SO never hears of my issues.

I also read 59 seconds recently and was very impressed by it, primarily because it’s straight-to-the-point, although writing the problem seemed to be one of the primary things I got from it.

This blog post kind of sounds like self help :slight_smile:

Yah I agree but these support you to make some conclusions. But practice it self some time requires these books and blogs e.t.c. :slight_smile: yes I think these are in those 5% while I think those material is actually more than 10% good.

I’m not familiar with doing scientific researchs unless they’re listed in Google results. How else can I find quality material?

From the same “weary self-help student I quoted above”, you can find a good overview of the scientific knowledge about self-help over at (with the references at the end of that post, if you want to dig deeper into the research)

@Kieran, I also find the same thing. Often just writing out the question leads you to the correct answer. However, once I’ve written out the problem, even if I’ve already solved it, it’s often beneficial to post the question. Firstly, because others can now benefit from what you have already learned. Even if nobody knows the answer, you can just post the solution you came up with. Also, you can get solutions that others have come up with that you didn’t think of. Thirdly, sometimes someone else will post the solution you had already come up with, and it’s just a little bit of extra reassurance that you were doing things right.

Also see the mainstream science on beating procrastination:

How to Beat Procrastination

And the mainstream science on happiness:

How to Be Happy

A productivity/organisation system:

As I recall, it does not cite any scientific research, but it seems to make my life easier. It seems they came up with this through trial, error, making adjustments, trying again, …

Reminds me of a quote from Chuck Palahniuks book “Invisible Monsters”:

“Now,” those Plumbago lips say, “You are going to tell me your story like you just did. Write it all down. Tell that story over and over. Tell me your sad-assed story all night.” That Brandy queen points a long bony finger at me. “When you understand,” Brandy says, “that what your telling is just a story. It isn’t happening anymore. When you realize the story you’re telling is just words, when you can just crumble it up and throw your past in the trashcan,” Brandy says, “then we’ll figure out who you’re going to be.”

While it’s true that “Nobody is going to help you,” I’m amazed at how much help I’ve received recently, as I was transitioning from completely-not-a-programmer to professional-software-developer.

Free blogs to understand the culture. Free books and tutorials to understand the technology. Free tools and technology. Free Q&A websites for when you are stuck.

No one will help you pick a direction, or to put in the work, and it’s up to you to find a way to make yourself worth someone’s money. But if you are moving in the right direction, the help will come.

Which is good, because you can’t do it alone.

I couldn’t agree more, these books are mind poison.

Self help books, business or personal, seem to appeal to individuals who need to identify with whatever psychological malaise is currently doing the rounds. They buy these books, satisfy that desire to “identify” then move onto the next one. They never get a proper fix, they generally don’t want to or don’t have the will power. I watched this up close and personal.

Unfortunately there is a large market of lifestyle hypochondriacs that these vampires^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H authors appeal into, sadly these books don’t get put on the Fiction shelves in the bookshops.

Success is about personal ambition and will come about of your own ingenuity and inventiveness, not some quack telling you what your ambitions should be.

Are you saying that my forthcoming title “Highly-Effective Chicken Soup for your Parachute from Mars (Awakening the One-Minute Manager by Eating That Frog To Win Friends With Mood Therapy for the Real You, incorporating Lessons from the Art of War of Sun Tzu)” doesn’t contain valuable information that will change lives, allow you to overcome procrastination, low self-esteem, heartbreak and psoriasis (you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy), and give you richer, glossier hair in just 30 days?

Because if so, sir, you’re turning your back on the product of literally weeks of intensive investigation, incorporating the very latest in pseudo-psychological babble wrapped up in a healthy helping of folksy “aw shucks” writing and extensively illustrated by a gifted dropout from Mrs Phipps’ prestigious second-grade drawing class. Are you sure you can afford to do that?

Remember, nobody's going to help you … except science, and if you're willing to put in the required elbow grease each and every day – yourself.

I’ve read some good self-help books that essentially say that — specifically:

  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  • The Road Less Traveled
  • Straight Talking
  • When I Say No, I Feel Guilty

Everything you do, you do yourself (otherwise you’re not doing it), but if you want to do something well, you’ve got to learn how. If I remember correctly, the best way to learn is to study theory, and practise, and teach. Good self-help books are part of studying theory, and give hints on practising.

Jeff, I trully respect your opinion, but this is just none sense. I know you come from a scientific/engineering background being a programmer, as am I, but coming to a conclusion because of a scientific research done on something that is not a science like self help is very ignorant on your part and the book’s author. People are not robots and the human mind is way too complex to come to a conclusion like the one you mention just because of a group of people. Some people will feel better writing and others will feel better talking about it and I don’t think you, a scientist, or anyone else can come to an overall conclusion on which one is a better approach in general. Only one self can come up with the answer as to what is better for themselves.

“I don’t care if anyone reads what I write here” reminded me so much of this exchange that I laughed out loud (literally not just, lol)

Brian: I am NOT the Messiah!
Arthur: I say you are Lord, and I should know. I’ve followed a few.

Only you can change yourself, that’s absolutely true, BUT …

You can’t discount the importance of others in helping you figure out the things you want to change and how to best go about changing them.

Science can explain the basis of everything, but it can’t incite action the same way human interaction can. Alcoholics and addicts know they are killing themselves and continue without regard; however, once they see the impact it has on their family and friends the chances of change are much greater. With the proper support system and counseling successful change is possible.

I know that is an extreme example when compared to productivity but a lack of focus and/or motivation (ADHD, Depression, etc.) is just as serious a disease.


The fact is, we are interested in personal grow. But there is also so many self-proclaimed self-help guru that take advantage of the needs of the people, and each one of those have invented the “ultimate method-wayofthink-religion-process” to fulfill this necesity.

Its not bad getting ideas from books, but i think life its more than a
process-method-religion-motivational-stuff, and is something not so simple to understand.

The truth is, you have to try, you have to bee prepared for mistakes, learn from experience getover and continue.

I agree with the subject of this article ( not for the book it recommends) that noboby will help you, in fact, because no one cans.
Its personal stuff, is personal experience and that depends only of you.

I think you (like many people) miss the point of most self-help books. They’re motivational, not instructional. The measure of success isn’t whether they tell you anything you didn’t already know; it’s whether or not you are reminded or inspired to do what you already knew you needed to do.

99% of the wisdom in the world boils down to “take care of yourself and others.” Love thy neighbor, the Golden Rule; it’s all restatements of the same wisdom. There are even several variations within the motivational poster “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” But people don’t just learn this stuff as kids and become angels. They need constant reminders. (Some more than others.) And even good people need their own hypocrisy pointed out to them regularly.


You’re offering self-help advice…kinda hypocritical no?

Sorry, forgot to add. Good advice though - only b/c I happen to agree with it :wink: