Presentation on theme: "The Rhetoric of Self-Help, Or How to…. Awaken Your Consciousness, Live Better, Live Your Dreams, Quit Smoking, Grow Rich, Lose Weight, Makeover Your Life,"— Presentation transcript:
The Rhetoric of Self-Help, Or How to…
Awaken Your Consciousness, Live Better, Live Your Dreams, Quit Smoking, Grow Rich, Lose Weight, Makeover Your Life, Have Better Sex, De-Clutter, De-Stress, Get Organized, Get Fit, Find Your Purpose, Find Your Soulmate, Find God
Get Ready to Be Awakened
The ultimate goal of ANY so-called self-help book, program, process, regimen, any wisdom literature, any guide of this nature is to achieve a particular mental, physical, or spiritual state designed to improve specific aspects of your life, including the health of your body, your lifestyle, your finances, your relationships with others, your relationship with God, your mental and emotional well- being, your fundamental thought processes.
What has emerged in my research as a very interesting common thread is this: The majority of the most sweeping, popular, and compelling of these self-help approaches is deeply couched in spirituality, and meditative communion with a power greater than the individual self (inner stillness, universe, God, love, etc.).
Pay attention to the words used to elicit your trust, not only in the individual, but in the process s/he promotes. Light, energy, awaken, understand, recognize, become, find the good already in you, etc. You have succeeded even before you begin because you already possess everything you need. But you must be “ready”. The manipulative ploy is to challenge your fitness and readiness for the journey to self-discovery, self-actualization. The rhetoric of common ground…that we are all on the same journey…is a common approach. That there is inherent in you a need for this course of action is a fundamental tenet of the self-help rhetoric.
In fact, the teacher/guide/advisor/life coach makes an effort to downplay his own role, citing a calling greater than himself, an inner voice or drive that compelled him to write, speak, go, a desire to enact the wisdom he now possesses….which you can have, too! They are self-proclaimed prophets of self-improvement. And always, the objective is to help others. This may be entirely true….but neither Jesus, nor Mohammed, nor Siddhartha Gautama Buddha became millionaires promoting their teachings.
"a new earth"
Do you know The Secret?
Though contemporary models of self-help guides are slick and well-produced, utilizing the tools of new media, the notion of wisdom literature and guides provided to lead individuals to better living is quite ancient…. Many, in fact, draw credibility by associating themselves with revered texts…like the Q’uran, and the Bible. But consider these…..
Hesiod “Works and Days” 700 B.C.E.
The Bible Proverbs Solomon 900 B.C.
It's not really about food... it's about your self-concept
Spiritual and self-help gurus cultivate their own celebrity, either through self-promotion, or with the help of other powerful celebrities and media venues. Marketing self-help is a big, big, big industry. In fact, it’s worth about $10 billion annually.
According to a 2005 Marketdata Enterprises market report, the U.S. self-improvement market is worth $9.6 Billion. Personal coaching & infomercials do best. Major Findings: “The total self-improvement market (including revenues of weight loss programs) was estimated to be worth $9.59 billion in 2005. The market grew more than 24% between 2003 and 2005. We expect 11.4% yearly growth through 2010, to a value of $13.9 billion.” Infomercials “ALL infomercial sales grew strongly in 2005, up 10% to $2.69 billion. Self-improvement shows represented 48% of the total, or $1.29 billion.” Audiobooks “Audiobook sales have been growing about 4.5% per year. Total audiobook sales were estimated at $2.08 billion in 2005, with self-improvement titles representing $354 million of this.” Books “ $693 million worth of self-improvement books were sold in 2005. Fueled by continued strong sales of diet books, the market is forecast to grow 8.3%/year—“ Personal coaching An estimated “ 40,000 people in the U.S. work as life or work coaches and this $2.4 billion market is growing 18% per year. “
This doesn’t mean that the ideas, suggestions, findings, philosophies and methods promoted by these interests and entities aren’t good for you. Indeed, living well, living healthy, living happily and having both a spiritual center and the ability to register peace and contentment are wonderful things. I would merely argue that you shouldn’t have to pay a bunch of money to figure these things out.
But, thankfully, because these self- appointed advisors are so well-known, and so willing to dispense their advice, they are often the target of cultural and media parody.
Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley "That's just stinkin' thinkin!" "You're should-ing all over yourself." "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt!" "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." "I am a worthy human being." "...and that's...okay."
Walker Percy “Lost in the Cosmos”
Some parting advice gleaned from my own experience, and some from my Grandma Sadie, R.I.P.: Do your homework Trust the process Read everything you can get your hands on….. but read everything with circumspection Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear Don’t let anyone trade you your bushel for their half-peck Catchin’ comes before a hangin’ Eat your vegetables Don’t take any wooden nickels