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The corruption of the self-help movement

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I doubt there is anyone who can make an intelligent argument against the fact that we have become the society with the biggest sense of entitlement in the history of our world. In fact, the bulk of all government spending is for a series of programs actually called “entitlement” programs.

People actually believe they are owed a living while doing nothing on their own to make sure they are employed or have any savings. Folks believe they are owed retirement income, even though they spent every dime they had their entire working lives with little or no thought about what would happen in the future. People think they are owed unending unemployment benefits, and many believe they are owed complete health care despite having destroyed their own health by smoking or overeating. Bottom line: People believe they are entitled to compensation for consequences they brought on themselves due to their irresponsible lifestyle and stupid choices.

How did this happen? How did we reach this point? My parent’s generation didn’t think this way. Yet they raised the baby boomers who created this mess. And now the baby boomers have raised a generation with an even bigger sense of entitlement. What happened to the baby boomers to move them from being self-sufficient like their parents to becoming so self-indulgent? Answer: The self-help movement. Before the baby boomers, there wasn’t a self-help movement, there was only the “help yourself” movement.

So is the self-help industry a bad thing? Not all of it for sure, but much of it is. The original intent of the movement was to get people to realize that they had the power, all within themselves, to change their results. It was meant to give them the confidence to go out and work and use their talents to create success, happiness and prosperity. It was a message meant to empower people to becoming all that they had the potential to be. That message of empowerment is important and necessary and powerful. However, that message has sadly, been twisted and corrupted and in many cases, lost. We turned empowerment into entitlement.

It might have been our laziness that messed it up, or our ever-declining work ethic, or our sliding scale of morality, or the gray area of integrity that runs rampant among workers, corporations, Wall Street and government. Add to that our greed and unhealthy desire for more, more, more. Maybe it’s our demand for more sensationalism via our insatiable need to be entertained. Or our fascination with the shallow, inane and ridiculous. But whatever happened, it corrupted the entire self-help movement. Somehow the emphasis shifted from “self” to “help.”

What’s the solution? Stop thinking about help and turn back toward yourself. Stop blaming others. Stop looking to others to save you. Don’t be a follower of the ideas of any sole individual, group, party or movement. Read, study, think and work. Rely on your brain and your brawn to create the life you want.

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Larry Winget is a five-time New York Times/Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He is a member of the International Speaker Hall Of Fame. Winget is a regular contributor on many news shows on the topics of money, personal success and business.


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