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Positively inundated with self-help content aimed at curing despair and lack of purpose, modern America grows more morose by the day.
According to NPD Bookscan data, the number of unique self-help titles on the market nearly tripled between 2013 and 2019, while the genre itself saw unit sales grow by a compound annual growth rate of 11 percent.
Yet as millions more citizens engage with self-improvement literature each year, NORC at the University of Chicago has reported that Americans are less happy than they have been in roughly five decades.
In her newly published book, “You’re Not Enough (And That’s Okay): Escaping the Toxic Culture of Self-Love,” Allie Beth Stuckey shares with readers the saddening consequences of the culture’s investment in selfish and secular self-help, laying out her case for a liberating life in pursuit of God.
“Self-love, self-esteem, self-confidence, we’re told, is the prerequisite to happiness and fulfillment and satisfaction,” Stuckey said. “The problem is that the people that are propagating this idea — a lot of these so-called self-love gurus, a lot of the people who are receiving these ideas — are not happy.”
“So they’re talking about the importance of doing everything that makes you happy, the importance of loving yourself and being confident, and a lot of them are still very openly and publicly struggling with not just insecurity, but really serious self-deprecation and self-loathing and unfulfillment and dissatisfaction and unhealthy relationships,” Stuckey added.
“It’s almost like they’re on this hamster wheel of constantly telling themselves how awesome they are, but never feeling that way and never feeling like they can measure up.”
Stuckey was formally introduced to the cultural concept of self-love recently, when regular listeners to her BlazeTV podcast, “Relatable,” brought it to her attention, frequently asking her opinion on the topic and whether or not it was compatible with the introspection inherent in healthy Christian living.
Unfamiliar with the concept and intent on better serving her audience, Stuckey quickly began to research, conducting in-depth reviews of topical literature, which in turn led to personal reflection.
She would come to find that self-love was pervasive in the modern culture, held firmly in place by roots stretching back as far as the 1970s — far back enough, in fact, that the host had even unknowingly bought into the concept for a time during young adulthood.
The altogether dark period is described with detailed vulnerability in the pages of her new book.
Thrown into a crisis of identity by a devastating breakup at the close of her college career, Stuckey fell away from faith and healthy habits, engaging with a culture of unhealthy social activity and supposed self-improvement.
The frequent and vain ego boosts provided by parties and hookups would eventually lead Stuckey to a deeply selfish lifestyle and an eating disorder the likes of which would have been inescapable were it not for the jarring words of a caring counselor: “You’re going to die. This is going to kill you.”
But how had Stuckey, a cultural voice known for her calm demeanor and confidence, managed to unknowingly stumble down the long road to self-destruction, all under the impression her lifestyle constituted self-improvement?
By her own account, it was all by the deceptive power of five cultural myths exhaustively debunked in her first literary foray:
- You Are Enough
- You Determine Your Truth
- You’re Perfect the Way You Are
- You’re Entitled to Your Dreams
- You Can’t Love Others Until You Love Yourself
Widely believed to be key in the road to self-satisfaction, the five statements, made cliché in recent years by a growing wave of “self-help gurus” and cultural influencers, can bring only restlessness to those who believe them.
“It’s this idea that is not just a culture in self-help books, but it’s also in the church, it’s also in the political sphere,” Stuckey told The Western Journal. “This idea that in order to be successful, in order to be confident, in order to have all the things that you want in life, you first have to love yourself.”
The idea, she later added, is a paradoxical “dead end,” leaving the emotionally lost with both an insecurity-induced need to fix themselves and an unhealthy reverence for their own needs, desires and morals.
“The self can’t be both the problem and the solution,” Stuckey said. “If you find inside yourself confusion, doubt, self-deprecation, inadequacy, you won’t find the antidote to those things inside yourself.”
“The only place that can be found is outside of yourself, in the God who created you,” the author said.
Where sin, self-doubt and uncertainty abound, the Bible promises an unchanging and certain God. The death of his son, Jesus Christ, delivers to those who believe forgiveness of sin and the assurance their shortcomings are covered by a loving and liberating Lord.
Unapologetically Christian, “You’re Not Enough (And That’s Okay)” presents a relationship with Jesus as the only solution to devastating problems personal, political and cultural.
And the truth of such a premise, Stuckey told The Western Journal, should result in Christians possessing a moral responsibility to lovingly introduce the Lord to those around them.
A 2018 study from nonprofit spiritual research firm the Barna Group, however, revealed that the share of Christians who see evangelism as a responsibility has dropped 25 percentage points since 1993.
Stuckey would go on to argue against exactly this sort of trend, urging Christians to ignore societal pressures and remain bold in their evangelism, particularly given the capacity of the gospel to soothe chaos-stricken hearts.
“Blessed are those who are canceled in the name of Christ,” Stuckey said. “That needs to be the mentality that we have when we are sharing the gospel.”
“It is uncomfortable. Especially when you have Christian leaders who are saying that you don’t have to talk about the gospel, all they have to do is smile at people and be nice and they’ll get the picture. That ain’t it. That’s not true,” the author later added.
“We’ve got nothing to lose with being bullied — and the people that we are sharing with absolutely have everything to gain.”
Stuckey’s new book is available for purchase on Amazon and alliebethstuckey.com.
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