Sarah Carman says It’s great that people in the wellness industry are passionate about what they do, but what isn’t so great is when they assume that their way is best for everyone.
There are so many people in this world who want to improve themselves.
And there are plenty of people ready and waiting to teach others how to do just that.
There are people who can boost your confidence, and people who can revolutionise your relationships. There are people who can perform healing miracles and people who can craft major diet overhauls. There are people who can transform fitness phobics into wellness warriors. There are people who can enhance your motivation. There are even people who can increase the speed at which you live life.
All of these pursuits seem legitimate.
However, anyone who is prone to the “I want what she’s having” mentality should probably proceed with caution. The wellness industry might be well-meaning, but it can also be damaging.
The first problem arises because the people the wellness industry targets often don’t know they have a “problem”. Sometimes, things become problems when they are labelled as such by some guru who knows better. If you happen to be having an off week, or if you are not too self-assured as you well-meaningly peruse the internet, then you might be pushed towards thinking that your way of living is wrong. And not just wrong; very wrong! You must change immediately! Think of all the productivity you’re missing out on!
What happens afterwards is interesting. The same people in the wellness industry who tell you that you’re wrong provide a formula for making you right again. (This formula is something they’ve often poured their heart and soul into, and about which they are incredibly passionate, so in the interests of avoiding a bit of passion-bashing, I won’t make this cruel.)
It’s great that people are passionate about what they do and this should be encouraged. What’s not so great is when people assume that their way is best for everyone. That what they have to share with others should and must be taken up by a large proportion of the people who hear about it. This sort of entitlement is something that younger generations are really good at latching onto, and when it comes to communicating such messages, the internet is proving to be a well-oiled vehicle.
When you’re in the market for new habits or clever ways to improve your life, the impressionable mind does interesting things. It forgets the parameters that your personality provides, and assumes that plenty of what is presented will perfectly mesh with your existing ways. It’s a bit like trying to build an extension on your home, using someone else’s tailored blueprint. Sure, it might have the most incredible spiral staircase at the core of its design. It might also come with an air of legitimacy on account of planning approval from the local council. But if the proposed design doesn’t fit into the block of land you’re living on, it isn’t much use to you, is it?
Here’s a personal example. I’m writing this now at 5:22am. It’s too early for me to be up. I know this. I am, at present, trying to improve my sleep patterns so that I am not up at this time. But today, 5:22 is just when ideas came. I woke up, and there they were. When this happens, I really have to write things down. It’s a weird sensation that I’m not very good at describing. What I can say is that it’s very exciting when words just come to me, and I become a sort of physical object that transfers them to paper. I don’t want to change this, not for all the sleep in the world.
Here’s where I think we need to get to. There is so much information available to people these days, and much of that is put out into the world with at least some degree of financial agenda. I would like to see the self-improvement and wellness industry become less gimmicky, and less reliant on “douchey marketing”, as Marie Forleo puts it. I’d like to see people putting stuff out there with a “Hey, this worked for me and I thought it was great!” mentality. No pressure. No elitism. No establishment of exclusive communities or moral high grounds. No “I’m better than you because I drink chlorophyll.” Just experiential comments that might – maybe, possibly – make other people in this world better versions of themselves. On their terms.