Being a shy kid I always tried to fit into the realm of social consciousness and I desperately sought various self-help books to give me a hand. Initially I read crap which basically attracted me with titles like, “How to understand woman?” or “How to know that the other person loves you?” My frustration grew until I began to decipher the inherent meaning of life (my life) by reading classics and biographies that touched my heart and mind. Since then the self-help books are out of my way, and even though they exist in heaps – trying to lure me in with their “helpful” titles, I’m immune. If you are feeling vulnerable to their promises, beware.
We all need a little help. Sometimes, we need reassurance — or a plan. Self-help books can give us the guidance we often seek. But they can also be a treasure trove of absolute horse manure. Here’s how to tell the difference.
Do not buy a book if they claim “Personal Action” is not necessary
Self-help is such a paradoxical term. When you are seeking help from outside sources, it is supposed to be termed as help; self-help is something which you do to yourself. So whatever you read, the action has to be taken by you. If any self-help book claims it is unnecessary, simply ignore it. Nothing is possible without effort by you. To put it simply, your life is the fruit of your own doing.
Do not buy if they claim “Magic” happens
Nothing happens in a whiff of second. Behind all great achievements lies patience and perseverance. If any of the self-help books claim the above reason, simply chuck it. The mystery of life is beyond all human conception. So if someone claims something magical happens; it’s just a marketing strategy to sell the book. Nobody knows the secret but a good self-help book can unlock the potential in you to discover that penultimate secret.
Do not buy if they are not backed up with authentic life experience
If the influence of a vital person inspires you there is no doubt about it. Sometimes the life experiences of others may guide you in conflict, but not always. When any book is based on authentic life experience, just buy it; it is precious. The wisdom of their entire life in the book helps you to gain the same wisdom by just reading it instead of living and learning by yourself.
Do not buy if they are not backed up by considerable research
“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought” said Albert Szent-Gyorgyi. People who do research are passionate to seek answers. They just want to share their passion not to sell it. So, if the book is backed up by considerable research and if that fits to your context, just buy them. There is now a fine line between real research and what’s actually full of crap. And it’s ironic that they’re all supposed to help you. Beware.
Do not buy, if they claim themselves to be “Bestsellers”
Beware of bestsellers, each of them has different context. Consider authentic ones by your own research. Every bestseller may not be a great book but a great book is always a bestseller. The self-help world has been so intertwined with entrepreneurship that simple ideas of positivity and honesty have been tainted. Having a handful of money and hiring a good PR firm can make any book a “bestseller.” So beware of those, read reviews, if possible, before purchasing a book.
For what it’s worth, we are all human beings and nobody is perfect. It’s perfectly all right not to get caught in the realm of social consciousness. Try to seek help from self-help books but also remember, “It is in you to be or not to be.” The world is full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.