Did you know that the SNL skit Pretty Living was written by Molly Shannon and is based on an ad she saw in a newspaper where a woman was advertising herself as a “Joyologist”? I found that out in her book Hello, Molly!
I wish life coaches still called themselves this.
Anyway, reading that sparked a memory and I think I may know why I have such a problem with these self-proclaimed masters of life.
When I was 12, I got hustled by a woman who claimed to have the secrets that would help me live the life I want.
She was a phone psychic I called in the 90s and she couldn’t even tell that I wasn’t 18. I was away at cheerleader camp when my parents got the bill (thank God) and upon my return, they treated me to McDonald’s then presented me with the bill and promptly grounded me for about 4 months. #bossmove
“Did she predict you’d get grounded?” my dad asked.
“Well, she couldn’t predict that I wasn’t an adult so no.”
I forgot all of her predictions almost immediately which is a great sign that it was a bunch of bullshit, especially since I had 4 months of solitary confinement to try and remember them.
As a kid, I didn’t understand how this woman got hired as a psychic. Was there a test? Did they do that thing where someone goes “guess what number I’m thinking of?” and the interviewee goes “3!” and the hiring manager is like “you’re hired!”?
How does one become a psychic?
As an adult, I know the answer.
You just say you are one. And I know this because that’s how you also become a life coach and/or self-help guru. The requirements are the same too: you just have to be good at bullshitting. A skilled salesperson if you will.
I talk A LOT of shit about life coaches, particularly the 20-something-year-old Instagram ones, but that’s only because I, respectfully, find them to be full of shit.
I realize how judgemental I am about this subject and believe me, I don’t care.
For the record, I don’t think the people who seek out these internet snake oil salesmen are crazy or stupid.
Seeking help (period) is not stupid. It’s incredibly brave.
The people who proclaim to have a secret that nobody else has and convinces others who are vulnerable and in emotional need to pay anywhere from $500 a month to $85,000 a year to learn it? People who lack the education or even experience to position themselves as some sort of emotional healer? THAT’S the shit I’m not cool with.
I mean, even Oprah’s favorite book The Secret – which tells you the whole secret (envisioning your goals, putting them on a vision board if you’re into that shit, and then doing your goals) in a matter of pages – costs like $20.
Those above mentioned rates may sound made up and oddly specific but there’s a reason for that: a gym friend of mine has worked with life coaches that both charge and pay other life coaches that much.
This friend first worked with a 20-something-year-old life coach to help with her marriage. This self-proclaimed life coach (and now astrologer, I just found out) has never been married and at the time, was dating a man that recently got served by his divorce lawyer for non-payment and was about to lose his own law license.
As you may have guessed, her lack of experience in this field didn’t work so my friend moved on to another woman claiming to have “the secret”.
And where did she get said secret?
From none other than Mr. Tony Robbins of course.
I did not know that Tony Robbins’ business was more than just his motivational speaking and his books. Apparently, you can become one of his disciples/coaches by paying thousands of dollars to ascend the ranks. Kind of like Scientology.
Or a pyramid scheme.
My friend began attending retreats hosted by a Tony Robbins disciple/former gym member named Laura (who actually came into the gym one day pretending to visit everyone but was actually there to “feel our energy”) and became a different person.
I wouldn’t call her enlightened so much as I would call her cold as fuck.
She went from joking around and dancing at the gym to ignoring all of us and shutting everyone out, including one of her best friends. And after Laura’s visit, she started saying that the gym was full of bad energy.
She continued to show up, however, and (ironically) spread her bad energy around the gym, to the point where a week-long absence for a work trip was celebrated by a couple of the coaches and some of the members. Everyone was tired of her coming in and being, to be frank, painfully unbearable. Like an abscessed tooth.
Or a pyramid scheme pitch.
And then there were the psychedelics. At first, my friend and her husband would attend these retreats and spend the weekend just staring at each other – which I admittedly thought was weird because I do that with my husband for free. But then the staring eventually turned into tripping as they were now being doped by psychedelics.
Our other friends and I couldn’t understood what she was doing but, honestly, it wasn’t for us to understand. It was her thing and as far as we knew she was doing this to help her marriage. But we also knew that since she’d started these $1500/month shroom sessions she’d retreated from everyone but Laura, who she was now referring to as her mentor.
You know who else was a mentor?
This is when we started to think she was in a cult because that’s what cults do – separate you from your friends and family that aren’t associated with the cult. Even Laura had quit hanging out with some of our other friends from the gym, people she’d been friends with for years.
From there I began to think this was some bullshit. And that thought led me down a rabbit hole where I discovered the podcast Sounds Like a Cult (which is awesome and you should listen to it!) and also found that to be the type of Tony Robbins disciple that is allowed to host these retreats and continue to learn about life or something (what Laura does) can run up to $85,000 a year depending on what level disciple you are.
I realize this might just be me but I’m not paying $85,000 to learn about life when I live it every day and that alone requires me to give money to the government.
And excuse me but when do you actually learn the “secret”, from Tony or your life coach, anyway?
The answer is: you don’t. These coaching programs are meant to be ongoing.
Now, there are some people who will tell you whatever coaching they received changed their life, and I think that’s fantastic. But when someone charges any amount of money for guidance they may not be equipped to provide, that’s where shit can get dangerous and expensive.
Additionally, Tony Robbins clearly states in his disclaimer (that I found buried in his website) that his coaching is not meant to be any type of counseling and even recommends getting help from a licensed professional if you’re in need of one.
Further, he only absolves himself, not his “coaches”.
Side note: I wouldn’t write that you’re a Tony Robbins coach on your resume unless you want to sound like I did when I used to write that I was Miss San Antonio Latina on mine. Yeah, I really did that but in my defense, I got that title the way Tony Robbins’ coaches get there’s: I paid for it.
Look, professional counseling (which Tony Robbins makes sure to state in his terms that he doesn’t do) is one thing. It just doesn’t sit well with me that there are people reading Brene Brown books and then charging people hundreds of dollars to regurgitate her advice to them.
That’s not life coaching. That’s plagiarizing.
It’s important to note that my thoughts on the Tony Robbins stuff is based on my friend’s complete attitude change and the fact that her husband has made comments about it that imply he’s a little concerned as well.
Again, if it’s worked for you, cool. I just happen to be witnessing the type of transformation you normally see in possession movies.
Anyway, I’ve complained about this ad nauseam for God knows how long so I finally decided to do something about it.
Beginning next week, I’m going to start pulling posts from various Instagram life coaches, organizing them into categories (because all of their posts are nearly identical to each other), and telling my own life stories that align with said posts.
Real stories. Shit that actually happened and how I dealt with it. Not made-up stories or excerpts about how one time I looked like a deer in headlights because someone asked me what things I like and I didn’t know an answer. Spare me.
This is really just my petty way of showing y’all how similar (nearly IDENTICAL) these life coach posts are. Also, it’ll help me tell more stories.
Oh, and all of these here’s-what-happened-to-me-but-do-what-you-want stories will all be free.
No monthly fee. No retreats where I make you yell in a canyon.
My goal is to post once a week but I have a real job that doesn’t involve swindling people so I guess it’s also time permitting.
Welcome to a new era.
Welcome to your Experience Escort.
PS: I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check out this article by Rachael Albers. She does a deeper dive into this online marketing gig (because that’s what these life coaches do) and describes the problem with it way better and more mature than I ever could.