The right self help book or course can be a tremendously powerful tool. I have personally seen it transform people’s lives: I’ve seen people go from being nervous, shy and un-confident and become far more naturally attractive, confident and interesting. But I would also argue that things have been taken a little too far. There is so much self-help literature out there now and so much advice on how we can become better versions of who we are. But is it all constructive?
Why Self-Help Can be Damaging
While I’ve seen people who have been positively influenced by self-help texts, I’ve also seen people who have been damaged by them. One of the most common ways this can happen, is when self-help becomes a delay tactic. What I mean by this, is that people can use self-help as a means to delay the work they actually should be doing to improve themselves. In other words: people will buy a self-help book and then will instantly feel as though they are making good progress toward being a better version of themselves. They’ve made the effort by buying the book after all: so they can pat themselves on the back and keep on reading. And then they buy the next book. And the next book. And they feel great about themselves except they haven’t actually changed anything. Self-help is destructive when it ends up being a delay tactic. If you are only using it in theory and never in practice, then it is hindering rather than helping your progress.
Knowing Who to Trust
The other issue is that self-help can be very mixed depending on where you get it from. The problem with the internet is that anyone can contribute and there is lots of incentive to do so as a way to get views and thereby earn some cash. The problem then is that you can end up following advice that is based on zero evidence and that has been written by someone in no position to be giving said advice. It’s common knowledge for example that visualizing your goals can help you to get what you want from life. But did you know that this only works if you visualize them in the correct way? Some studies suggest that having a goal is much less important that having a plan. So question what you read, act on it and then decide what works for you personally.