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3 things
self help books
best of intentions
old habits
comfort zone
human behavior
3 Things To Avoid When Attempting Self - Help
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3 Things to Avoid When Attempting Self  -  Help

Like New Year’s resolutions and 3rd cousin-twice-removed commitments to help build that porch, some people leap into self-help books or courses with the best of intentions, only to fall flat a few months (even weeks or days) later when they are back to old habits, or never left them to begin with.

Why is this? Why when attempting self-help do people start off sprinting, but fail to finish the marathon?

To blame motivation and personal commitment alone may be a bit harsh, as the strongest of wills could still benefit from understanding a few patterns in human behavior, and how to avoid them.

Avoid Lying to The Source

Remember how stressful and embarrassing it was to tell your teacher how your proverbial dog ate your homework? How you were certain your voice would crack to such a degree tectonic plates would shift?

That reaction to being untruthful helped teach us at an early age it’s just better to be honest and get it over with. You’re not fooling anyone, so why end the day with your punishment and unneeded anxiety?

The thing with self-help books in particular is there’s no one to answer to but yourself, making it much easier to pass up a recommended task or practice technique, and skip forward to the next chapter. While this section warns against lying to the source – the book or article or other material from which you are learning- it’s really about lying to yourself.

When you skip the recommended techniques, you’re negating every bit of your good intentions and will to make a change. Sure, you may think you “get it” without having to physically practice - you’re intelligent, after all!- but sometimes these tasks are less about helping you understand further, and more about breaking your habits, getting you to stop just thinking and start doing, and easing you out of your comfort zone.

Don’t cheat yourself from making the change you set out to make! Follow through with everything your source material suggests and see if you don’t feel a bigger sense of accomplishment than when you completed the first chapter.

Speaking of comfort zones…

Avoid Staying in Your Comfort Zone

What was it you were trying to fix or improve about yourself when you started your self-help journey anyway? Did you want to be more outgoing? Did you want to learn to play the piano? Did you just want to stop picking your nose? (no judgment)

No matter what led you to the self-help aisle of the bookstore, you wanted something about you to be different. You can't very well be different doing the same things you did before now can you?

If you want to be more outgoing, you will have to try to say hello to that stranger in line with you at the coffee shop. If you want to learn piano you’ll have to get over your feeling of "I can't learn anything new." If you want to stop picking your nose, you’ll have to deal with that nagging urge to shove your index finger right on up your nostril.

Change isn't always comfortable, it's very often unnerving, but you will have to take the lesson to heart and apply the teachings (even beyond the given tasks you skipped anyway) for the desired results to take place.

Don’t think you can absorb the info and know how to be outgoing, without actually pushing yourself to the edge of your cozy world to become outgoing.

Avoid Not Asking Questions

But, it’s called self-help, surely that means everything must be done by one's…self? Well, not exactly. Another thing about self-help is you’re not really on your own. The author is teaching you the same way a therapist or life-coach would face-to-face. And the authors teachings came from years (presumably) of studies conducted with hundreds, if not thousands, of other peoples involvement. It’s really the result of countless efforts.

So why then is it called self-help? Because you yourself chose to pursue the topic of your own desire. That should not inherently mean you’re locked into being solely reliant on just you and your source material for success.

There is a wealth of knowledge and resources available on the internet, with millions of people connected from all over the world able to answer clarifying questions and offer insight. You can find out more about the author, read reviews, and join discussions.

Getting stuck on a particular concept doesn't have to mean your self-help pursuit ends mid-book. Take to the web! Reach out! Self-help is not as lonely a journey as you might think. (I mean, you are reading this, aren't you?)


Be mindful of these 3 things when attempting self-help endeavors, or risk wasting all that good information your source provided on another failed resolution or half-hearted commitment.

Creating yourself and becoming what you desire to become will take a bit of truth, a bit of push, and a bit of humility to reach out and ask for help when needed. But if you can overcome these natural tendencies, well, you've just made you’re first achievement on your self-help journey, and you’re well on your way to achieving all you set out to conquer.

Street Talk

Nick G.  

Ya it's true I use to do it exactly as you say - just reading the book and avoiding any exercises that was described in it, and guest what almost nothing happened. A few months ago I got this book 'Called why this idiot is rich and I'm not' and I decide to make every exercise in there no matter what so I start reading I start making exercises... And now when I'm finished with it I'm sure I learn a lot more with exercises than I was going to learn without them.

  about 9 years ago
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