The Lure—and Lie—of Self-Help

You need much more than easy tips for a better life.
The Lure—and Lie—of Self-Help

There’s no denying we are a nation of people looking for help. Although we may try to seem put together on the outside, our book purchases alone point to a different reality: we are struggling, and we’re looking for help anywhere we can find it. “Self-help” is an entire industry in this nation that generates roughly $10 billion per year—and the industry shows no signs of slowing down. Whether you want to read about fixing broken relationships, living more healthily, making more money, or finding contentment, there’s a self-help book—or 50—out there for you. And if you are willing to spend the time and the money, there are myriad options for self-help conferences, webcasts, and personal coaching, along with the thousands of books you can read.

If we try to “help ourselves,” as the old adage says, we are actually moving away from the truest source of help—Christ himself.

It’s common for self-help books to tout that they offer the key to “win in life and business” and “unlock the way to life’s riches.” And why not? Who doesn’t want to have a better life, make more money, and experience more happiness? Who doesn’t want life to be easier, simpler, faster?

Chasing an Illusion

But perhaps what we want is something we were never promised—and so we’re chasing an illusion.

We live complex, challenging lives, and many of the promises offered by self-help gurus seem wonderful and easy. Too easy. We want a quick way out of our difficult marriage without having to work through the pain. We want to make money easily and without having to work diligently. We want to feel happy without having to face our own brokenness.

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Ann Swindell

Ann Swindell is a TCW regular contributor who is passionate about seeing women set free by the love of Christ. Connect with her at, on Facebook, or on Twitter at @annswindell.

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May 25

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