Self-help books don’t work and this is why
Self-help books don’t work!
Do you read one self-help book after another thinking, ‘this will be the one that really helps me!’ Or while you’re reading, you feel good but know that once the book is over you’ll need to find another book to pump yourself full of positivity?
I’m a self confessed ex-self-help junkie!
While reading one self-help book I needed to have another one lined up. If I ever finished one without having the next one on order I’d start to panic. After I read most of the self-help books I started to read titles in the Spiritual or New Age section. I just couldn’t get enough.
Reading positive based non-fiction books was a drug for me
Comments from friends started to increase. I’d have one friend saying, ‘Why do you keep reading that stuff? Does it even help?’ And then family members would see me in a bad mood and say, ‘You better go get one of your feel-good books.’ Eventually the people around me made fun of me for getting high on self-help books.
I think I was searching for the ultimate answer – the answer to a finding a good life
I wanted a book to tell me how to live, what to do and how to do it. I just wanted to be happy. I just wanted to live life fully. And I just wanted someone or something to tell me what to do.
Then it dawned on me that I was addicted to reading books but rarely did I put my knowledge to action. Most self-help books offer a wide range of exercises. Within the exercise there’s usually a bit of soul searching required. I’d often read a question like, ‘what activities make your heart sing the most?’ and I’d think, ‘my heart doesn’t sing!’ and I’d carry on reading. I wouldn’t stop to really contemplate the question or exercise.
My life truly started to change for the better once I stopped consuming books like a fast meal and instead slowly worked through them, completing the exercises. I started a ritual of going to the coffee shop at 7am with my book and a notepad in hand. I’d complete the exercises and then journal about my thoughts on the book and my life or just write about my life.
The books won’t help you unless you use them as a tool for introspection
Self-help books without contemplation is like a car without fuel. The car might be new, shiny, beautiful and allude that it can take you to amazing places but without fuel it’s not going anywhere! The fuel is your ability interpret the book in relation to YOUR life in a way that allows you to shift.
Self-help books are not about being righteous either
Do you read a passage and think, ‘That’s just like so-and-so! They’re so messed up. They should read this book.’ And then you carry on reading the book thinking about your family member or friend rather than applying it to your life? I was so bad for this – I’d write peoples names in the margins so I could tell them how wrong they were.
When and if you start filtering the information in relation to other people’s lives, it’s time to force yourself to stop. You’re not reading the book to prove that you’re better than your husband! You’re reading the book for you so keep the information for yourself ONLY.
So, after all this is said, what do you think the biggest comment, as an author, that I get?
Dear Kim, I loved your book. It really opened my eyes. I haven’t done the exercises yet but I’ve earmarked them and plan on doing them later. I just don’t have the time to do them now.
Inside, I roll my eyes and know that this person isn’t going to improve their life situation any time soon. It’s so frustrating because there’s nothing more important than working on yourself. However…working on yourself means that you:
- Read a self help book filtering your life through it only
- Do the exercises within the book and/or spend time contemplating the core messages and how they related to you
- Make time for yourself every day! Get up early, take a ½ hour break in your car, stay up later, go to the coffee shop.
Nothing will change in your life until you shift how you think
Self-help books are great at getting the reader to ask themselves deep and meaningful questions. By answering a question you might determine that you have a very unhelpful belief. For example, after I left my company I spent quite a bit of time contemplating what ‘work’ meant to me. I discovered that work is something you have to do. It’s something that sucks – a necessary evil.
When I discovered my negative beliefs about work, I used my How Life Really Works exercise to get it out of me. I did the exercise and for weeks or months I didn’t think anything shifted, but now looking back I can clearly see that I no longer hold negative associations with ‘work.’ In fact, I now jump out of bed every day to ‘work.’
So – with your next self-help book, don’t push through it to see how quickly you can get it read. Get yourself some paper or your laptop and as soon as something jumps out at you (about your life) write your thoughts down. Become a detective. You may not get the answers immediately but if you ask yourself good questions you’ll be surprised what comes up.
Kim Brown helps people to find their life’s purpose and exponentially increase their fulfillment. To get started read Kim’s book, ‘How Life Really Works: The Answer to Finding your Purpose & Personal Fulfillment’