Discussion: Self-help Literature


Hey everyone, let’s talk about self-help
literature. I started thinking about this a few months ago when I read No Sweat.
Like I told you in my review this book really didn’t fit me. I wasn’t the target
group, but I have friends who are and I told them about it. But the response I
got was not: I’ll give it a try! but rather: I don’t read self-help books. And
that’ stopped me short for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t believe the ignorance
and closed-mindedness my friend had Second, I didn’t consider myself a
self-help book reader either, which clearly isn’t true. If you have followed
me around for a while you know that I tend to read things that can help me fix
a problem that I currently have. But I never really looked at it as self-help. I
rather more interpreted it as self-improvement, because I was trying to
better myself. I didn’t feel like I desperately needed help with something.
I just needed ideas and inspirations and maybe guidance, or didn’t know
anything about the topic so I needed to learn things, like with the meditation
I’m diving into right now. So I didn’t consider this self-help literature, but
technically it is. I was wondering why I was struggling with accepting this
term self-help. I still don’t know really why. I think it’s a bad reputation,
and the associations we have with that are not something positive. Even in
today’s society and world of lifelong learning and self-improvement and
betterment. I hardly know people who read these kinds of literature. Who turn to
blog post to solve a problem they have. Or pick up a book to improve on a skill
they have or maybe learn a new skill. I hardly know people who do that in real
life, more online but less in real life. So I don’t really know why that is but
part of me thinks it has to do with this bad reputation or bad dea that we have
about people who read self help books and self-help literature in general. But also
I think that I have heard people say that “Yeah that’s not for me” or “I cannot
use it” in reference to the aspect that not 100% of that particular thing fits
them. As if a self-help book or self-improvement literature can only be good, if it helps you 100%. If you
can use everything it says, which I think is a ridiculous idea.
I personally hardly ever fit the mold of any kind of advice literature, no matter
how you look at it. Going back to No Sweat for example. I’m not the target
group. This book is clearly meant for people who don’t like exercise, who find
it a chore and need a way to convince them to do it. I like exercise. I find
not moving hard. Still I got something very important out of this book. I got a
new idea or rather better understanding of something I was struggling with. An idea on how to solve this or change this. Currently it’s working pretty
well, so this is a benefit I got out of this book. Yes it’s only one out of a lot
of things that the author mentioned. But it’s one more than I had before. And
this is the case with almost everything I read where I’m turning to improve or
learn something new or find a way of dealing with something that I cannot
deal with right now. Or where the way that I’m doing it it’s not working. So that I get a new inspiration or a new idea or maybe even completely new
knowledge about a topic that I hadn’t looked into before. I don’t really have
answers to these questions but I’m curious to learn how you think about
this. Do you also have this bad attitude towards self-help literature? Do you use it? Do you like using it or what is your problem with that? How do you approach
this topic? I would love to hear from you in comments. Thank you for watching!

17 thoughts on “Discussion: Self-help Literature

  1. People think its a rabbit hole of huckerism here buy this exlir it will make strong healthy beautiful etc. Sometimes the self help book helps sometimes it becomes a projectile across the room target anywhere but here.. Depends on the reader the book and the time.

  2. I think the genre is flooded with over the top, ridiculous advice money spinners promising the moon and stars that the gems that are actually helpful get a little list.
    The latest episode What to Read Next podcast chats about self help books. She chats with two women who have a podcast called By the Book where they pick a self help book and follow it to the letter. It was an interesting chat, I recommend listening to it.

  3. Great topic! Not a big reader, but have skimmed some at the book shop & must have a couple on my shelves. A couple of thoughts: first, you have to acknowledge you need help, which not everyone likes to admit. Second, self-help books have a reputation (deserved or not) for stretching one good idea into 200 pages of fluff, or just being a rehash of old ideas in a shiny new format. I think many people view self-help books as a kind of psycho-babble, as opposed to manuals that actually teach a skill (how to write a term paper, how to use Windows 10). Great video!

  4. I don't believe in self help books that they will help me change with something. I only read those kind of books from time to time if there is a topic I am interested to learn more about.

  5. I like reading self-help books. They may not be life changing, but they are usually quick reads that offer up a few good points. There are stereotypes with all kind of books (YA, erotica, sci-fi, etc.), and it's always a shame when people don't read a particular book because of them.

  6. I've been reading self-development books for 40 years or more. Some are better than others. I particularly dislike the ones written by celebrities who claim that you too can be rich and famous by following their advice so I avoid those! I tend to go more for the science-based ones.

    Perhaps some people don't want to admit that they need help. I've known people like this. They paint their life as just wonderful, no problems, and it's only if you get to know them better that you see the cracks. Perhaps they were brought up to believe that you shouldn't show any weakness, shouldn't admit that you've failed in the race to build a perfect life. In the end though, surely that's self-defeating? Because you have to admit that you need help before you can take the help. I wonder if the word self-help puts people off; it sounds a little needy, whereas self-development sounds more proactive.

  7. I definitely think there is a stigma about self-help, that we must be failing in something – love, career, money, etc, in order to need "self help". Or that it's all a gimmick and the author just wants to make money. I've read a few books that might be considered "self help", like the Miracle Morning or the Lifechanging Magic of Tidying up, etc, but it's more to see if there's anything I can incorporate into my life rather than making big changes. I think it's helpful for having a certain frame of mind but doesn't always lead to dramatic life changes or improvements.

  8. I find the self-help genre helpful. I am picky about what I read though, I don’t go for just any self-help book because it’s a self-help book. I tend to look for recommended books. I do know that there is a stigma against those books, but I largely ignore it since I’m careful about what books I read in the genre already. It helped me overcome procrastination so it was hugely helpful in my life.

  9. I find myself picking up self-help books several times a year. For me, I either connect with them really well, or I find them without purpose. It's all about finding the ones that are right for me at the right time. There is a whole genre of self-help books marketed specifically to mothers, and I think that has really helped to make these kind of books more mainstream for women in particular.

  10. I think a lot of the stigma against self-help comes from the idea that a lot of the basics (books focused on eating, cleaning, exercising) are things most people don't want to admit that they have difficulties with. And then on the business/career side, I think there's an attitude that those books are nothing more than corporate sales tools.

    When I worked for a company that gave us career-type self-help books at the annual team sessions, I would always roll my eyes at them, but that was more because it always felt like they were a sales product more than an actual judgement on the content of the books themselves.

  11. You bring up so many important questions in this video post. I would find any reader who claims to NEVER read self-help books suspect. Readers should be curious and (in some way) optimistic. Great topic!

  12. I've only read one that I can think of, its a Bipolar Disorder Workbook. It was ok because it was interactive, but I didn't find that it really helped me all that much.

  13. I think self help books are very helpful. I’m like you I pick and choose what if anything in the book will help me and then move on armed with better skills or ideas for my own personal life. I also agree about a certain stigma surrounding them yet I’m not sure why either but I don’t let that get in my way

  14. I read LOT of self help books when I was a troubled youth. None of them helped a bit. I'd say, from own experience, that what helps one, is useless to others. Each person is different so each needs to find their own way to survive the hazars of life.
    Ancient Tao masters said that each person has his/her own path to enlightenment and thus you cannot guide others how to become enlightened. I say the same about life in general. Each of us has our own road to travel, and nobody can travel it with us. Even in relationship, we are ultimately alone. We just have to accept that.

  15. I used to think self help books weren’t a thing I would ever read. Then I heard someone refer to them as self care books. It’s interesting how a choice of words can make you change your opinion.

  16. I go through phases. I have a giant box full of self-help books. On an individual basis I am not sure you can say they helped but overall I think that my wish to learn about myself, understand and change things about me, to improve my life was certainly helped by this type of book.

  17. I'm with you in the motivations for reading "self-help." I think all reading can be used as self- and other-understanding. That's how I've used reading since childhood: I seek out what I need to help and understand myself, to figure out the questions I need to ask from the nebulous feelings I have. And for sure, I never 100% relate to writers, but eclectic pieces here and there form a whole! (Love your quirky hair in this vid.)

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