Just Go Thunk Yourself. Really, Truly.
The problem with self help is that it’s just too personal.
For 20 years I’d been working 60- and 70-hour weeks for a Syndicate, dedicated to the idea of just giving everything I had to help people improve their lives.
And nothing to show for it.
Now I had a job and started to have some spare time where questions could creep in that needed answers.
Why had I been there and done all that? Was it just a joke? A scam? Does Self-Help actually work – or is it just a bunch of scammers?
That last was the core question which haunted me.
The short answer turned out: no. Self-Help does work where it’s actually based on natural principles. And those principles haven’t changed since before humankind started recording our history.
With an Internet connection, you can find out just about anything about anything. The world is at your fingertips. And all the worlds which had ever been.
So I started my studies.
It turned out that where a person gets a result in self-help, the latest book or program or course might get the praise, but that’s not necessarily what caused the improvement. There are thousands of factors which could be given as why the improvement happened. Similarly, any failure may or may not be what that person last used as a product, so blaming them may or may not be accurate.
That doesn’t even cover the idea of a placebo (sugar pills.) This is where the person’s expectations produce the actual result.
But the bulk of the scams in Self-Help observably come from over-charismatic types who are pitching a short-cut method.
You can probably think of a few you’ve heard of or even experienced. This is why they had to invent the FTC. Just to get ride herd on snake-oil and Used Car salespeople. (I’m not saying the FTC is effective, just why they were invented.)
Diet plans are like this. Some even have been accused of killing people.
Cults are associated with Kool-Aid drinking thanks to Jim Jones and his Guyana cult who killed themselves with poison-laced Kool-Aid on their way to “salvation.”
This brings us right back to over-charismatic types running things.
The Syndicate was built from it’s Founder’s early work in establishing franchises all over the U.S. and some foreign countries. All based on his personal charisma, and using that to get people to follow him and his practices.
That was the first stumbling block in these studies. Personal charisma needed to be eliminated.
So the first test was, did any self-help author’s books still sell well even after the author’s death?
Books would insulate you from the various persuasive arts of the spoken word and video tricks.
Going through Gutenberg.org and other online public domain sites, I was able to find many self-help books that were being downloaded regularly. Since most of these were pre-1923, it was pretty certain that their author had passed on.
Taking the top books which were downloaded regularly also found them being sold online, which is the point of bestsellers with (long) dead authors.
So the charisma factor could be ruled out, as well as some Syndicate or other organization selling books on that person’s behalf.
Next was to read these books and see what key points they pushed and which of these were held in common with at least one other book on that list.
A grid was made up of the common factors. I had a dozen books and drew the line at having common factors present in at least a third of them. (See my Go Thunk Yourself for the grid and full study – follow the link to my book site in Appendix.)
This then gave me 14 elements that might point to a natural system of self-help.
And they did.
There are tools now which make a cross-comparative study easier. (Meaning, you can check my work.)
Comparing these 14 elements to the Syndicate practices found that they were using only short-cut alterations of these natural principles.
The burning question was then: why weren’t the Syndicate’s short cuts obvious, and why did I have to leave and find out this research on my own?
Because the Founder (and later, that new CEO) added complexity and claimed they had discovered or invented them personally.
Businesses keep making money off their followers by delivering something new to them. “If you liked that, then you’re going to love this…”
You saw that in the “Internet Marketers” described above. Keep Inventing and Selling Something is their model. (Oh, you thought KISS meant “keep it simple, scholar?”)
And there’s that Peace point I was telling you about… Just research through old philosophy and religious texts and you’ll find that that peace state is one of the highest ones they attained.
The trick in cults and marketing scams is to give them yet another reason to keep coming back after you’ve achieved that for them.
In Religions (Capital “R”) you’ll find that it’s gotten very, very complex. And few, if any of their followers are even awarded sainthood.
The more complex the system, the easier it is to fail. This is a rule of engineering – the more moving parts, the easier it is to have something break.
But in the most complex systems, it’s often hard to find what broke first. The complexity will tend to also support minor failures for a long time.
In short, the Syndicate teachings quit working. Not just because their new CEO was wrecking their management. He and his cronies had also been fiddling with the Founder’s materials to make them even more complex. But the Founder himself had already “complexified” his own teachings beyond simple workability. And that is why they had to send people to “Advanced” franchises in the Syndicate to get the “best” results (also, the most expensive.)
Nature works all the time. So when you isolate the natural principles at work, it’s dead simple, isn’t it?
Well, yes and no.
Our society has now gotten so complex that we are living very un-natural lives. Our lifestyles are complex beyond belief. (How many electronic devices do you have in your life daily – and which of these could you fix or get fixed easily?)
Meanwhile, the original teachings which long ago told us simply how to attain these high personal states have been “translated” and “interpreted” to a point where you can’t even study the original works and make any sense out of them, much less attain any expected results that are claimed.
For instance, the New Testament books were all written long after the death of Jesus, based on stories passed down for generations. And there are really just four or six versions of his teachings. These are called the Gospels. The rest of the books in that collection were written by church administrators.
If you just read the “items in red” (what Jesus is actually reputed to have said) then you see an incredibly powerful set of stories which have come down through the ages. But the text of those words fit into a book which is barely long enough to be printed. (I did this once – two versions together came out to about 45 pages of text.)
The point of all of this was to find out if there was a way people could improve themselves regardless of charismatic leaders.
And it’s true. We can and do change ourselves.
Later studies showed that this is native, we were born with it, and we do it every day and moment of our lives. On a longer scale, it’s called evolution. On a monthly basis, it’s known as habit stacking. On a day-to-day basis, it’s called stacking your mindset.