Exposing The Self-Help Industry, 13 Things They Don’t Want You to Know

Craig Stanland
6 min readDec 6, 2023

The self-help/personal development space is MASSIVE.

And it’s growing every day.

Especially since the pandemic when people lost their jobs or realized they didn’t want to do what they’ve been doing and want to do something else.

The number of coaches, “experts,” “thought leaders,” “influencers,” and “gurus” has exploded exponentially.

Everyone else is making a killing being a coach, so why not give it a try?

Some niche down and focus on specific clients, while others speak to a broad audience.

The advice, tools, tips, and steps are the same regardless of the audience.

And the truth is, there’s a lot of great and valuable content.

The flip side of the coin is there are also a lot of awful things about the industry that, as someone who’s involved in the industry, I deplore.

I decided to expose the dark side of the personal development space in the hopes of helping people make better choices.

Here are the 13 things the “gurus” don’t want you to know.

1. Hyper Focus on Positivity:

There’s a lot of material promoting positivity at all times. This denies a considerable component of the human experience; sometimes, things suck.

And it’s okay to feel down, angry, ashamed, guilty, embarrassed, jealous, or whatever.

If we deny our emotions, we deny a part of ourselves. How will we ever accept ourselves fully, deeply, and implicitly if we deny a piece of what makes us, us?

How will we ever feel whole?

2. They’re Parrots:

Many coaches coach from a playbook.

They rely on readily available information and merely regurgitate it, sometimes not even altering it into their own words.

You can find most of what they teach online with some focused searches.

There’s little genuine thought leadership (see #10).

3. They Rely on Your Low Self-Image:

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Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.