Neurotypical self help doesn’t work

This blog is as much for me as it is anyone reading it. I’m going to list a few key books/things I’ve tried to use over the years, and kinda hone in on why they were never going to work.

IMPORTANT CAVEAT: If this stuff works for you or you’ve found value in it – don’t let my critique take that away from you – I believe in a swiss-army knife approach, use whatever the hell works.

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin

Ok this has some decent advice for like the first few chapters. Just general stuff and references to other books that are probably way more interesting or helpful. The goal thing seemed ok.

I got to like the fourth(?) chapter, and I realised just how disconnected Rubin was with the reality most of us have to live in. She is organising a birthday for her mother in law. Trying to make it perfect puts in ton of effort etc. Seems pretty nice.

Then it just gets so weird. She starts being really upset about the fact that no one is praising her enough for her efforts (I should state here she has ABSOLUTELY no concept of how lucky she is as a person – she can buy ANYTHING she wants as she married to someone with an obscene amount of wealth). So she organised a birthday party for her MIL and everyone’s enjoying it, but she starts to think about having a massive go at people for not praising her enough. (If you do things for other people, their implicit happiness should be enough for you – otherwise you might have narcissistic tendencies). The whole situation is diffused though when her husband BRINGS HER A PRESENT on her MIL’s birthday.

I couldn’t read anymore. The level of entitlement was just so terrible. I am glad you’re trying to be more happy, but if you are this self absorbed as a person – we will never see eye to eye.

My Advice here from personal experience: Making others happy is the key to happiness, not making others happy in return for platitudes.

Myer-Briggs Personality Type Fads

Myer-Briggs is like the most bullshit science ever. It’s not even science. It doesn’t exist in science. What it does do extremely well is market an idea that is not grounded in science as objective science. You can look through any of the descriptions of the 16 personality types and you’ll be able to relate to each one of them – this is through the Barnham/Forer effect.

This is the same reason that horoscopes are something people still widely believe in. When you make vague statements about what will happen to someone that day they will also be influenced by a the pygmalion effect – self fulfilling prophecy – they believe something will happen so they adjust their behaviour so that thing happens.

I think the thing that gets to me here about these personality types is a lot of self-help apps seem to cater personal recommendations to people based on them. This is so wrong – not only is there variation between people who identify as each.


Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Ok this one was pretty recent. I got recommended this book by my brother, and the logic and reasoning is sound here. But it’s completely unfeasible for most of my audience. It says to limit social media – but I think social media can be good.

I went to do the 30 day detox thing they recommend – at the end of January. I can tell you right now that it was awful for me. It just was super restrictive and doesn’t understand my motivations for using social media, and seems to imply that lots of time on social media is a bad thing – I agree in principle – there are times where my use gets out of hand.

But having prescriptive timetables on when to do stuff was just utter kryptonite for me.

Do you know what has helped most for my social media habits? NOT SHAMING MYSELF ABOUT IT. It’s almost entirely counter intuitive because I thought I’d end up spending more time on Social Media. But I also realised that Social Media as I have curated it as described in this blog post – is an extremely important thing for me to use for my mental health.

I am isolated as hell. I live 40 minutes drive from my nearest city. I live two hours drive from one that I actually have friends in. Social media is my connection to the world, and more importantly the Neurodivergent community who has been incredible for my self-esteem.

Lesson: Social media use can be bad, but reducing it for the sake of being a minimalist seems to be awful advice. I mean that’s not entirely what the book was about – it does talk about limiting the stuff you use – for me this is true, but I had done this already. I don’t use Instagram, Snapchat. I barely use Facebook except to stay in contact with family. I barely use TikTok – mainly just to post videos when I have the spoons.

What do I use for advice then?

WHATEVER NEURODIVERGENT PEOPLE SUGGEST HAS WORKED FOR THEM. That’s why connecting to people who are either on the Autism spectrum/ADHD or just dealing with any of the other comorbid conditions that come with this PTSD/cPTSD, bipolar, BPD, depression, anxiety has been so important.

I understand myself, I can see how their solutions work in my mind. I can’t use NT therapists – they have no functional understanding of how I work. I wouldn’t tell someone how to do stuff on mac software as I have no understanding of how it works functionally as I am a windows user. Why the heck do they think they can work out what’s best for us without our direct input?

The last piece of advice I have – you will need a swiss army knife of solutions. With ADHD your productivity stuff will work for a while till it stops. Then you’ll need to find something else. Your solutions to problems in life need to be as novel as everything else that you need.

I’m working on pooling together a wiki of all the amazing stuff that people have discovered about ADHD, Autism, or other comorbid conditions that has helped them. It’s going on in the background now – when it starts to have more content I will post it.

Published by roryreckons

I am an ADHD/Autism Coach as well as ADHD/Autism/OCD/CPTSD advocate and independent ADHD/Autism researcher. I am an ADHD/Autism Coach who trained through the ADD Coaching Academy. I write mainly about ADHD/Autism/OCD/Mental health issues, but will also discuss morality, abolition, and current affairs occasionally.

4 thoughts on “Neurotypical self help doesn’t work

  1. One of the biggest issues with MBTI for me (typing aside) is that it’s usually completed by people like Gretchen Rubin… Self-assessments by people who have no self-awareness and a huge sense of entitlement. They are easy to manipulate and heavily dependent upon the frame of mind of the respondent…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, they are not even consistent even more than 24 hours later and yet people embrace these nearly completely. It completely baffles me personally, but if they get something out of it. Ok I guess, but people should know it’s not valid or reliable.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, I think though, a lot of it is down to society and that irrational need to put everyone in neat and ordered boxes. A culture that’s more damaging than constructive. Diagnoses are helpful, constructive, if you have a practitioner who understands the diagnosed condition (and not just from an intellectual perspective)… but most boxes are unneccessary.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I totally agree, everything exists on a spectrum, binaries are unhelpful. Did Star Wars really teach people nothing?

        “Only a sith deals in absolutes”

        Liked by 1 person

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