Why I Am Doing a Self-Help Book Ban

I love a self-help book. I’ve even written about some of my favourites before.

I could inhale one after another, exploring every part of the human psyche to try and understand how and why we or, more specifically, I behave the way I do and how I can change that.

However, after diving into Help Me! By Marianne Power, I started to question the efficiency of reading quite so many self-help books. As Marianne suggests, self-help books are just like the products of other industries that are trying to sell us what we want: a quick fix to achieve happiness.

Although other industries (such as fashion, beauty and other forms of wellness) are demonised for trying to sell us an ‘easy’ route to an idealised version of ourselves, the self-help genre is often overlooked. We can tell ourselves that it is a practical, introspective and worthwhile thing to read a self-help book and try to better ourselves – and I think it is! But, some perspective is crucial.

Whilst self-help books can be a great tool for improving our mental and physical health, alongside our general feelings of wellbeing, I’m starting to think that there may come a point where self-help starts to meander into self-indulgence and self-obsession, doing more harm than good.

Does self help actually… help?

Reading Help Me!, I began questioning whether all these self-help books were actually helping me or just encouraging me to poke and prod at my mind without the tools or capacity to be able to deal with what I found. It’s a dangerous game, to play with your head without allowing yourself the time and space to carefully implement changes and learn from your own experiences.

If, like me, you are constantly hopping from one book to another, there is no breather to digest what you’ve learnt or process what this means for you and your life. It is an information overload.

So, that’s why I’ve decided to go on a 6 month self-help book ban. Until mid-July, there’ll be no reading or listening to books that provide advice or tips on how to improve yourself, in any capacity.

I want to understand whether regularly reading self-help books is helping me to make positive changes, or just encouraging me to burrow so deep into my own mind that I get lost and feel even more confused than before.

I hope it will encourage me to step out of my head, and instead bring me into the real world. I want to focus on reading books that inspire me to be creative, to learn about real world things, and allow me to really enjoy a story. I also hope that it will help me, in the future, to be much more selective about the self-help books that I do choose to read. I want to pick books that have actionable advice that I can try out and feel tangible benefits from, such as (in my experience) Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning.

In 2020, I want to get out of my head and into the real world, to be more present. That’s why I am saying farewell to self-help books for the next 6 months.

It won’t necessarily be easy – I find self-help books both interesting and relaxing to read, but I want to break the habit, expand the books I am reading and see what life without self-help books might look like.

How do you feel about self-help books?

Would you benefit from taking a breather from reading them? Let me know your thoughts on my ban – I’d be interested to hear what you think!

2 Comments

  1. I don’t like self-help books much; they often seem shallow, and I get the feeling that many of the authors are just trying to sell something. For self-improvement, I really like biographies and memoirs. I learn from the author’s mistakes, learn more about people, and get inspired by them. By the way, you’ve encouraged me to read more this year, and I’m on my second good book now.

    1. I totally understand that – I really enjoy reading people’s accounts of things too. I love hearing from people with different stories and learning from their experiences.

      That’s great to hear that you’re reading more too. A couple of people have said the same thing and it genuinely makes me so happy, so thank you!

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