TJ is a writer living in Portland, OR.

The constant battle

Let us call it the master theory of self-help. It goes like this: Somewhere below or above or beyond the part of you that is struggling with weight loss or procrastination or whatever your particular problem might be, there is another part of you that is immune to that problem and capable of solving it for the rest of you. In other words, this master theory is fundamentally dualist. It posits, at a minimum, two selves: one that needs a kick in the ass and one that is capable of kicking. [...] It mandates a conflict between two parts of the self, but beyond that, it makes no particular demands and answers no particular questions. Who is divided against whom, who has the power and who is powerless, how to ensure that the “right” part of yourself winds up in charge: All this is up for grabs.
— Kathryn Schulz

Schulz boils it down to this: If you are conflicted about something, self-help posits that you just have to do what your 'idealized' self wants you to do. But if your could give that self control, then wouldn't you have done that already? Why would we need self- help books if all you had to do was embrace some infallible god-like persona within you?

I think it's because people are naturally flawed, sometimes tragically so. Every day I struggle with trying to be that person who writes every day, goes to the gym, is kind, eats less sugar, and meditates. If a book gives you the framework to be the idealized person you want to be, that's great, but I embrace the struggle. My vices are just as much a part of me as my ideals, one cannot eradicate the other, I'm just hoping that the ideals win out in the end.

Beach House - Wishes

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