Does self-help literature really help?

Self-help books easily make it to the top sellers’ lists. Self-help gurus are millionaires. Readers, including myself, jump from one best-selling self-help book to the other, from one form of self-improvement content to the other. We read it, we listen to it when driving, and we love watching the masters on TV. But after all that, did we really get the help we need? Did this great book change our life? Did that breakthrough program move us from under-achievers to super-achievers?

I once was having a conversation with a friend of mine, a fan of self-improvement books himself. I said but you know what, self-help books do have a problem. They bring us a great deal of pleasure while reading them. Then that’s it. The pleasure stops there, at the reading. Then in order to have this pleasure again, we pick a new book. While we read those brilliant ideas, we already get a psychological fulfillment. We get excited, imagining ourselves doing all what the book is suggesting. Then when the reading ends, and the excitement fades, we still don’t have the will to change. Doing those things didn’t look as exciting as it did during the reading. The theory was more compelling as a theory than it was in action.

Does that mean I am against reading and listening to those beautiful things? No. Repetition is good on the long term. If we keep reading and listening to this type of ideas every day, we will at least benefit from it by improving our mood and having some moments of hope. But in order to have this benefit, we need not to have gaps. We need not to listen to one audio book, get excited, then stop for a month. Because this gap will then create something worse. We will feel incapable and weak. Guilt will be born, subtle but persistent. The undone promising ideas will torture us, will leave us depressed because we failed to do what we ought to do.

We need to come up with a consistent method to make use of what we read. Because if we don’t, it could work against us, instead of working for us.

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