I have an addiction. It leads to hours of wasted time and confusion. It is a good thing gone badly. Thankfully it doesn’t involve me slowly killing myself with packs of cigarettes or lots of alone time with an alcoholic beverage.
Self-help books are my weakness. Wait wait, don’t laugh or roll your eyes. They can be dangerous! I can’t count the number of times that I have gone into a book store simply to browse. I find all the intriguing book covers. I still have trouble not judging a book by the cover. Soon I find myself drawn to the self-help section. Who could resist the promise of a better life? The fact that there are so many books in the category should suggest to me that not every book will be able to help me as much as it promises to do, but that doesn’t stop me. My mouth still waters at the promises to help me lose weight, attract anyone, speak effortlessly in public, and much more. More than likely I will end up with one of these books. I will read it and enjoy the prospect of improving an area of my life. The high will last for most of the book if I am lucky, but as soon as the book ends then reality sets in. This isn’t as easy as the book made it sound.
I might continue with the suggestions in the book for a few days, perhaps even a week, but sooner or later I give up. I make excuses, but it boils down to the fact that I didn’t follow through with it. Even though I didn’t achieve the result that I wanted, the book still served a purpose. It gave me a momentary high.
The Feel Good High
Just by reading that book it gave me hope that I would be able to magically able to change my life for the better. Normally self-help books make promises that sound great. I could do so many awesome things. These things excite me when I am reading about them and I fantasize about it. It gives me a feeling of happiness that I could be able to do these things. This is my addiction. It makes me feel good, so I desire it again and again. The same book will not work because I now know that it will not work as well as I thought, so I have to find another book. This cycle continues on until I have a whole library that shows that I can help myself but I have nothing to show for it.
Are Self-help books bad?
Each person is different, but I know that self-help books tend to be bad for me. It isn’t their fault, it is my fault. I read them and think that the small act of reading them will make me a better person. Everyone knows that you have to take the action. I think I have read enough self-help books at this point to know that I can help myself without the aid of a book. If I have a weight problem then I no longer need a book to tell me to eat healthier. I know this. If I have a problem with not being a social person then I don’t need a book to tell me to interact with more people. I know this. I think most of us know how to solve our problems, but we waste time by reading about how to solve our problems. I think most of personal development is common sense. Sadly a lot of self-help books are simply saying the same things in different ways. There are some excellent books out there that provide some new and valuable information, but the majority simply tells us the things we know.
If we already know the information, then why do we read them? Because they make us feel like we could achieve our goals. They make us feel that the impossible is possible. I am sure I am not the only person that reads self-help books and doesn’t do anything about them.
What to do instead of read self-help books
Once you come to the conclusion that self-help books aren’t working for you then you need to do something else.
- Dust one of the old self-help books off and give it another try.
- Figure out your problems for yourself, and fix them.
- Find someone to help you
This may sound like it is against everything I just said, but the problem isn’t always the book, but the lack of action. This means give it a good effort. Do or do not, there is no try. Make sure it is very important to you or else you aren’t likely to complete it.
You don’t need a book to tell you the problems that you have. You are aware of the problems that come up, because you always notice them. I am always aware of my faults the best, but I have to pause and think of my successes. So it shouldn’t be hard to pinpoint your problem. Once you know the problem then fix it. It isn’t likely to be the easiest thing or the most pleasant thing, but do something. This is the difference between reading and doing. Self-help books are great if you do everything they recommend, but the problem often lies in the action part. Skip the reading and just fix it. Right now, not tomorrow, not New Year’s Day.
A teacher can be a great thing. Perhaps you are having trouble gaining motivation. Find someone to motivate you. If you are having trouble making friends then find someone to help you point out the things that you need to do. A person can motivate you just like the book can, but they will make you be accountable for your actions. So if you aren’t doing your part; instead of letting a book down then you are letting another person down. It keeps you motivated to continue helping yourself.
Admit you have a problem. Self-Help books will not solve every problem you have, so stop being a junky for them. Put the book down and figure out how to help yourself without the help of a book. Self help in the purest form.