3 Common Self Help Maxims that Sound Like Mindless Woo-Woo (But Aren’t)

I’m not a fan of self-help but I won’t dismiss it out of hand either

U-Ming Lee
7 min readFeb 21, 2022
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.

I’d like to make a confession. I get a lot of guilty pleasure from taking self-help or personal growth gurus down a peg.

Maybe it’s the smug sense of self-assurance that these 20-something-year-olds exude when they say things like, “You can do anything if you just believe in yourself.”

And, as they dish out platitude after platitude, I find myself scoffing at their “advice”. And, when I’m feeling particularly combative, I go out looking for information to refute their claims.

Many times, these statements turn out to be superficial nonsense. Not dissimilar from the “prophecies” commonly attributed to Nostradamus, i.e., written so vaguely that they can be interpreted to mean anything the reader wants.

On occasion, however, I’m forced to eat humble pie. Because, upon further reflection, some of these seemingly superficial statements contain deeper truths with which I find myself agreeing.

It’s nuance that differentiates between hogwash and a more profound statement. With that, I’d like to apply the lens of nuance to revisit some common self-help aphorisms.



U-Ming Lee

I write about business, finance, and freelancing life. | How to contact me: https://linktr.ee/uming.lee