Ableism in self improvement culture. Text on faded image of leaves on a tree.

Ableism in Self Improvement Culture

Have you ever been given advice by a well-meaning friend, only to think “that so doesn’t apply to me”? It might have even felt unhelpful.

Coincidentally, some parts of the self improvement field act in much the same way. Sometimes leaders forget just how hard life can be. They act like we can just snap our fingers, think positively, and feel way better. If only!

Many thought leaders mean well, especially when they’re trying to help others improve themselves and their lives. Even with their good intentions, they often overlook the needs of those of us living with serious mental illness. As a result, we’re often left out of popular conversations and concepts. This exclusion, intentional or not, is something called ableism.

Ableism is defined as discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. (Although, it really covers all chronic illness and disabilities.)

An awareness of ableism will help you look beyond it and find personal growth techniques that will truly help you

Ableism impacts those of us with mental illness. It makes us feel we need to move faster, be better, and not have the symptoms we live with. We start to believe that, because we can’t just “choose happiness,” there’s something wrong with us. For this reason, we need to all become aware of ableism in self improvement culture so we can decide which messages to listen to and which ones to disregard.

That’s what this episode is about. Common messages that are indeed subtle ableism, and what we—as empowered individuals—can do about it.

The best self help ideas are ones that acknowledge life is hard and stay optimistic anyways.

Once you’ve given this episode a watch, I’m curious to know:

Which part of self improvement culture do you find the most discriminatory? Why?

When you leave a comment, you’re creating a more inclusive self improvement field! Not to mention, your comment means a lot to me, and to many other readers. Thanks so much for it.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t hesitate to give this episode a share. When you do, you’re helping to dismantle ableism in it’s many sneaky sneaky forms!

P.S. If you want to dive into this subject even more, check out this video right here.

Live an empowered and unlimited life, one where ableism won't drag you down, with this free eCourse!


  • Anna Ottlinger
    June 13, 2017 at 10:39 am

    I absolutely relate to this from a physical chronic illness perspective. The self improvement industry focuses on people at peak physical and mental health. I can’t just do it or push through the pain and that doesn’t make me weak!! I’m glad you realize that it doesn’t make you weak either!! It can be hard on your self-image living outside ableist norms.

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