When it is about addiction to other things, self-help is something that you can rely on. However, when you are addicted to self-help books, what should you do? Just like other types of addiction, those who are addicted to self-help books too have many common characteristics. In other words, not only certain types of people are more prone to this addiction, the addiction in turn can also lead you to develop certain type of personality. And since this personality isn’t what you might be aiming for, you should get over this addiction as soon as possible.
Before taking steps to overcome addiction to self-help books, it is most important to find out whether you are really addicted or not. To avoid misdiagnosis, here are some of the common personality traits of people addicted to these books.
Signs that you might be addicted to self-help books
1. Huge desire to be an achiever
Most of us have vague definition of something that we call success, and we want to spend our lives following it. Everyone wants to be an achiever nowadays. If you too want to be an achiever, then that’s okay. It isn’t something you should bother about. However, the problem comes when you want to be an achiever really bad. When you think that your life is worthless unless you don’t achieve anything.
This is the type of thinking is promoted by many of the ‘get rich quick’ or ‘become successful fast’ type of books. These not only affect you, but your social relations as well. When you divide the world the world intolosers and achievers, you can be pretty sure that manyof those around you aren’t achievers either. All this might end up isolating you from both other people and your own positive thoughts, since you are not accepting the truth.
2. Dissatisfaction with life
With huge desire comes huge dissatisfaction as well. You might be reading about how people became so smart, rich, and famous, and you know that you want that too. But the thing is, you don’t know how to go about it. Either you are too afraid to try what they did or what they tell you simply doesn’t work for you. In either case, you think that something is wrong with you, which might not be the case. You have attached your self-worth to things that those self-help books make you dream. Unless you don’t detach yourself from those dreams, you aren’t going to find any satisfaction.
3. Lack of faith in yourself
The world is full of contradictions. Not only there are contradictions in the works of two authors, there are also plenty of contradictions in a single book too. Getting too many suggestions from too many sources might end up confusing you. This might make you believe that you don’t know anything that’s why you cannot follow the suggestion – a type of thinking that would degrade the faith in yourself even further. In addition, reading about so many people who made it and realizing again and again that you can’t be like them is poisonous for your self-worth.
4. Lust for motivation
If a drug addict is looking for drugs, then someone who is addicted to self-help books is looking for motivation. In reality, the type of motivation you get from many of the self-help books isn’t what you might imagine it to be. It isn’t something that would help you stay motivate throughout your life. The only thing it does is, it helps you get through the day, or more particularly, it helps you pass the time when you are reading it. That’s all.
5. Read a lot but don’t work a lot
Our actions are generally synonymous to what we read. Within couple of hours, the self-help books make you feel like you can become an achiever. Therefore, you might start expecting reality to be the same too. You might start expecting huge results out of modest enterprises just because you were motivated while you were undertaking them. Extremely soon, you would lose the motivation, and go back to other self-help books for more.
6. People think you are crazy
It is true most of the geniuses are eccentric people, but that doesn’t mean everyone who is tagged as being eccentric is going to become a genius. By awaking a desire to become a genius, many of the self-help books end up isolating you from your peers. Since there’s hardly any of your peers who might be reading as much self-help as you do, this would also induce you to believe that you are different.
Why most of the self-help books might be bad for you?
1. Give an over-simplistic view of reality
Those who write bad self-help books know exactly what you want. Therefore, they create an ideal world, which works very easily. You just work with the right intentions or the right formula and you get what you want. If that were true, every second person would be rich and famous. World is much more complicated than those bad self-help books would want you to believe.
2. Not everything is for everybody
Most probably, the self-help book that you are reading is written by someone who lives far away from you in surroundings totally different from yours. What might be applicable for him or her, might not be completely applicable for you. Doing a reality check might easily make you aware of the difference.
3. Consume your time
When compared to other sources like video and articles, books consume too much time. An average book of 300 pages would take up at least 6 hours of your precious time. This isn’t so much when you are reading the book on a holiday. However, if you are reading 2-3 self-help books a week and doing a job on top of it. This might leave with literally no time to do anything else.
4. Distract you from real life problems
In the author’s world, the problem might not be the same as yours. The main reason why you are suffering might be because of your troubled relation with your friends and family. However, the authors of bad self-help books take advantages of this very insecurity that most of us have. They might simply manipulate you and end up making you believe that the reason behind your problem is that you aren’t successful enough.
5. Create false ideals
Most of us look for happiness in our lives. Even the so-called smart, rich, and successful. In fact, the very people we consider as top of our social tier i.e. the CEOs and founders of companies are more prone to depression than the normal people. By thinking that our lives would only be worthwhile if we were like them is plain stupidity, but this is what these books make us believe.
6. Provide you with false experience
Depending upon the type of self-help book you are reading, you would get either of two feelings after finishing it. Either these would make you feel too elated or too depressed. In both the cases, the joy or the pain you get from them, you ought to actually get them from real life. Only then would they help you in your life’s progress. Whatever experience that you get from sources like self-help books is just a very poor substitute.
7. The same stuff (literally)
Okay, if you are an avid self-help reader, try one thing. Imagine that you are writing a self-help book. Just make a rough plan of the title of the book and all the chapters that you would include. Now think about what each chapter should deal with. Once you are done with it, take up your plan and compare it with some of the self-help books that are on your shelf. We are sure you would find some striking similarities. In fact, if you have read plenty of self-help books, most probably, you yourself are subconsciously aware of the formulae needed to make them successful.
How to get over self-help books
1. Be mindful with your reading
Don’t just pick up any self-help book that you see in advertisement or that you find in book shops. Beware of catchy headlines. Take control over what you think you need. Before buying a book, try Googling out its title and also read their reviews on both Goodreads and amazon. Don’t buy every self-help book under the sun. Just select the best out of a bunch and read not more than one book a month. Be mindful with what you read if you want to have any semblance of peace in your life.
2. Read slowly
Our mind is like a sieve. It retains little of what you throw on it. To transform a thought into habit, repetition is necessary. Moreover, if the chapters are dealing with different ideas, make sure that you don’t read more than a chapter in one day. In the rest of your time, try pondering over it. You should even try discussing the ideas with your friends and find out if they would work out or not. Reading too much would most probably lead to confusion.
3. Try googling your problems
Getting too much knowledge regarding something would paralyze your action. Therefore, rather than reading an entire book for your problem, we suggest that you Google it. Although Google itself isn’t that much reliable, most of the information that you get on it is to the point. It is much better than the self-help books, which, for the most part, are just beating the bush. Too many words are more likely to lead you to error and confusion.
4. Accept yourself
Stop being too critical of yourself. Its okay to want to achieve in life, but that shouldn’t stop you from being grateful to what you already have in life. Although you might be having certain weaknesses, but they would only become painful when you ignore your strengths and focus completely on them. Don’t do that. Think of everything you have, both positive and negative, and be grateful for that. It’s more than most of the people on this planet have.
Meditation, if done correctly, helps you in becoming more aware of your thoughts. With its help you can escape the thought patterns that might be plaguing you throughout your life. By keeping in mind certain facts about meditation, you can practice very easily at home. We suggest that you join a reputed meditation course. If not, there are plenty of guided meditations on YouTube as well that are very easy to do. Have a go at all of them one by one and stick with the one that works best for you.
6. Go out
Staying in your cocoon would just foster unrealistic ideas about things you don’t know about. So, get out of your room and see how different the world is from all that you have read about it. Let go of your anxiety. Things aren’t that difficult nowadays. Just at the click of a button, you can join language courses, go out on hiking trips, or just simply plan to go on long walks with friends. All you got to do is make a simple call or just fill an online form. Remember, there is happiness in the world that’s much more profound and simple than what you might find in books, but unless you leave your self open for such experience, you would never find it.
7. See a counselor
Just because we are mentioning this at the end doesn’t mean it is the last option. There are a lot of countries where people are biased against those who go to a counselor. However, if there’s an anxiety issue that lies behind your problem, seeing a counselor would be our first suggestion. But here too you need to be circumspect. Don’t just visit any random counselor. First find out the best counselors near you, then go to them on a trial and error basis. Once you are confident about them, tell them all they need to know about you and find the root of your problem.
Remember, going on circles would leave you to the same place every time. All you need to do is break the patter and set yourself free.