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.

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.

How close are you to joy? Take this quiz to discover the stage of the prosperity path you're in.


  • 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.

  • Colleen
    October 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    I find this especially true. As someone who has Reiki training and other modalities and also having chronic pain and all that comes with it, I hear very clearly that that if I am not feeling great then I am not very good at the modalities that I do because how come I cant heal myself? It makes me doubtful about my abilities, after all are they not correct? Depending on the disability they say well that means you have trouble with “this particular issue”(one example sore shoulders you are taking on too much) . Well what we have experienced or deal with every day does cause problems but in the same token we are not all cut from the same cookie cutter. Innocent children have terrible illness ( then it is Karma). Its almost like if you are very spiritually tuned you should have no problems and live forever and ever. That is not life. Either way we have to learn to be with our illness and know we all do belong no matter what the situation and we CAN help one another by being supportive and not critical and judgemental.

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