I am a sucker for a good self help book.

OK- I am a sucker for a good book in general, but I can’t help but gravitate towards book that cheerlead. I like a full on, pompoms and pyramid building Go Team experience.

Why do I like these books? I have no idea. I am not the type of person who leads the group in the school fight song…I tend to be the person in the back making sarcastic comments about the proceedings. So what is my addiction to happy go lucky self help?

Do I secretly want to be Queen of the Pep Squad?


Do I often see so much mediocre in my day to day, that I need to pick up my spirits, and a book that screams out BE AWESOME is just the ticket I need to get out of depressionville and into happyland?

I guess it doesn’t really matter WHY- I guess it just matters that when I read one of these books I automatically feel better. It’s a relatively harmless way to treat myself. The cost is a book…the side effects are a dash of positivity and perhaps a slightly different outlook. Is there a downside to my odd self help addiction? Not one that I know of. We all know I’m never going to veer towards toxic positivity…so I think I can figure out how to balance things out.

Now- I know I can be negative sometimes. And I can be mean in my head (or in your face if you irk me enough) but I think my scales don’t tip too much to one side or another. Emphasis on think- I know I can be, let’s just say passionate, about things, and I can tend to talkreallyfast and/or GET REALLY LOUD… But I also recover quickly. My Husband was always amazed when my daughter and I would be yelling at one another, and five minutes later we were hugging and best friends… Maybe that’s my superpower- recover quickly from bad to maybe not necessarily good, but at least neutral…

However you look at it, I like the way self help books make me feel. They give me a practical way of looking on the bright side, or at least the not so dark side. The practical is the part that works for me: these books break things down into manageable steps- they give me the guide on how to see things in a different light. They teach me how to be a little more of whatever it is I’m looking for at the present moment. They don’t TELL me what to do- they SHOW me how to do it.

How do you feel about self help books?




Never tried?

Tell me anything about self help:

81 thoughts on “Self Helping

  1. Self help books are my weakness. And yes, like you, I’m really not sure why! I think it’s my own secret way of turning my negative, sarcastic self into an optimist. Ha, ha. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t … but it hasn’t stopped me yet from trying. 😀

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  2. First (what I would call) self help book that made (and continues to this day) have a big impact on my life was the by by Dale Carnegie How To Win Friends and Influence People. My dad thrust it in my hands when I was 16 and said, “Jr, you need to read this.” The reason I loved it was it was packed with practical hands on wisdom, that made a difference in the quality of my life, almost immediately…Another self help book that had almost as big an impact on me was a financial book called Debt Proof Living by Mary Hunt. It too was full of stories, practical application and it gave me HOPE. I’m a sucker (not really) for books with practical wisdom. I love to experience real quality of life change, rooted in reality.

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  3. My problem with self help books is that they are called self help books. Now if they were called How To Books …Build a Better..Learn This or That…and I know, they are often subtitled as such, but I still find Self Help marketing off putting. It a stupid reason, I reckon, but there you go.

    And Oh, “I tend to be the person in the back making sarcastic comments about the proceedings.” Oh really, Lady Manhattan, who could have ever guess that ’bout ya. Regards…nice write.

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    1. I look at them as suggestions only. After all, this person knows nothing about my life, even after they may have told me about theirs. If there is something in any book (or blog or article or any other source from which such things may be gleaned) I think might be useful or applicable in my life, then I may decide to give it a try. It’s always my choice and if it doesn’t do the same for me as it did for the author, which is what most often happens, then I just see it as another lesson (in diversity maybe) learned and move on to the next.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m ambiguous about the “self-help” title or category.


    I love the ones that are unique and don’t follow a prescribed trendy path, that invite a glimpse into a personal journey that resonates with me.

    I don’t like the “best sellers” so much. Too much “Oprah” cult following.

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  5. I wouldn’t randomly walk into the self-help section and be in awe. This isn’t because I don’t need help in many ways but I don’t recall any SH book that has ever really helped me… They tell me practical answers that I already know I should be implementing. I might change my mind if I ever find one that truly has really new information and help to impart. Otherwise it’s just a version of my own voice nagging at me about stuff I already know 😉

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  6. I dislike them for the most part. It’s most likely due to my mom constantly reading them and then pushing for me to embrace whatever her book of the month was promoting. I’m a pretty upbeat person anyway, and I just never saw the need for self help material, with the exception of one I read on grief when Mom died. Kind of ironic, eh?

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  7. I understand why some people enjoy self help books and if you or someone else likes them then I say read them and enjoy!
    I personally don’t care for them at all. Mainly because I think most of the authors of those books are full of baloney and are on an ego trip in assuming they have all the answers. When an author has a reputable background, or has had actual life experiences to gain wisdom, I might listen to something they have to say. But, most of the time I think these people are out to make money as opposed to sharing wisdom. I do recall reading Wayne Dryer In the 70’s after a divorce, and being thrust on my own with the challenges of raising a ten month old baby. However, I soon realized that he had no real insight into what a woman from that decade went through raising an infant on her own in a world ( it was the 70’s after all, and women still couldn’t even get a credit card without their husbands or father’s signatures). So his advice was practically useless for my situation. My particular problems were not this self help gurus problems nor were his solutions realistic for someone in my predicament . In fact, I coulD gain more self confidence watching a corny episode of Wonder Woman. Yep, Linda Carter in her silly outfit gave me more courage to forge ahead on my own, than Dr. Dryer.

    To me, reading Mia Angelou’s poetry was/is more empowering than any self help book. Or rereading Pride and Prejudice and seeing how Lizzy Bennett was ready, willing and able to forgo marriage if she couldn’t get respect or love in a match, shows more about self confidence and courage than most self books.

    As I grew older, on the occasions I needed self help, I’d talk to a therapist for a few sessions just to get my bearings. But mostly, I learned that when life throws you lemons, you pick yourself up and find your own answers. Think about the positives, figure out what you CAN do and do it! OR find someone to talk to who has similar life experiences. For instance, a single person who has never had children can’t tell a parent how to raise their kids. They have no subtext to draw upon. No expertise in areas I want or need.

    So, for me, if I feel someone has the qualifications and experience in what I need, then I’ll read or listen to what they have to say. But generally, what most self help authors say is either common sense or naive baloney. That’s Just my opinion. IF these books help you or others then I say, go for it. Personally, rereading insightful poets works better for me.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Exactly! Inspiration and self soothing comes from within. And whatever works is WP worth its weight in gold. From what I have read in your blogs you also find joy and inspiration when you go to art shows and museums. That works for me as well. It doesn’t really matter how or what you use, as long as you keep plugging away at life. As the song says… different strokes for different folks”….

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Ha! You’re right -I always feel like I’ve got new purpose and direction after reading one.. then I go back to ask my old habits.

    My best friend LOVES them and actually applies what she learns after she reads one.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. The “expert” just needs to be further down the path than the person seeking their help, in order for their book (or workshop/training/whatever) to be worthwhile. But if you’re further down the path that they are, or you’re on a different path, then you’re likely to find their book a waste of time. Some people want information and education, others want to be inspired, yet others want a cheer leader – you’ll find all the above, and more, in the self-help/self-development world. Nothing right or wrong about the choice of reading matter – whatever works for each individual is my motto.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh that’s a good point, LA! What IS an expert? Maybe that’s what turns me off about self help books. Not everyone who offers advice is an expert. I trust my oncologist because he is an expert in his field and he saves lives every day. If he wrote a book on dealing with cancer I’d read it. I consider him an expert in his field. As an educator I’d often take classes for recertification or to learn something new. I would select instructors who were experts in their fields. (Whether it was varying exceptionalities, gifted education, creative movement, learning styles) etc. it was always someone who had the educational background needed, experience in his or her field, and a track record of success in whatever field they were teaching. So because the classes I’ve taken always involved what I consider experts, I gladly took their advice and applied it the moment I returned to my classroom. If I call a plumber, I assume he’s licensed and an expert in his field. I can tell him everything he wants to know about Shakespeare but I know very little about plumbing. Yeah, I might watch a YouTube video and try following it, but if I want the job done right I’ll call an expert. So perhaps that is the key. Find an expert.

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  10. When I was shopping my book with agents and publishers, they kept referring to it as a “self-help” book. That almost shut me down, because as a general rule, I’m not fond of self-help books. So many of them seem to be a bit too zealous—as if the author has found the *one true way* to achieve happiness, wealth, inner-peace, or whatever. They often seem to be saying, “If you follow my path exactly, you’ll achieve {whatever}.” It doesn’t work that way.
    But then I recalled the good self-help books I’ve read, like those by Brené Brown, Susan Cain, Gregg Levoy, and others, and recognized that I can explore ideas and share my ahas and potential pathways without telling people how to live (showing vs. telling, as you noted). Because there is no single way to achieve {whatever}. As soon as I was assured I didn’t have to claim to be the grand authority on kindness, I moved ahead. My book is now in its 8th printing, so I hope I did something right.

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  11. I think you’re right. I mean basically if you enjoy the book and it makes you better good, well that’s great. I have mixed feelings about self-help books. I guess the cynical side of me thinks some of these folks don’t know what they’re talking about, or the info can be so general it’s of no help, and, I suspect those authors don’t really care about me but are just trying to make a buck – their own “self-help.” But I’m a suckered for good writing, so if it’s written well, I might just give it a chance 😁

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  12. Self help is when you have too much time to think. Sometimes just plunging into work, family, life works. We are more alike in every country than different. The big difference might be religion and cultural beliefs but this is another topic.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I don’t read as many today; yet have read tons. I think we like them because we can see ourselves in the examples and feel connected to a wider context where people struggle with and overcome similar issues we are facing. My take…😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will tell you my lockdown secret: I hit bottom in June 2020. Then I realized that Covid is a forever, endemic thing, and once I realized there would be no “end” I just started living my life. Does that make sense?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the fault of the people…we want happy ending and we want closure. To admit that this was now our life would be too much for people used to participation trophies and “fairness” to handle.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I have read many self-help books in the past , but I don’t read them now, unless you count the Bible. ☺️ I did read a good article today online about setting boundaries that I wish I’d read 30 years ago.

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  15. Oh I love this. I’m always good for a self help book, but it’s instructions don’t last very long in my A.D.D. head. But their intentions are real; I do feel better about myself, and that seems to stick around during the stressful times.

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  16. I’m more a “Chicken Soup for the Stock Pot” than a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” guy, though I have read my fair share of writing books. Not sure if those count as self-help, though they did help me hone my craft.

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  17. Hello. New to WordPress. I think anything self-help is amazing! I’m such a believer in trying to build yourself up and be part of personal growth. Do you recommend any titles for self-help books?

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  18. I don’t like obvious self-help books, like if you’re trying to tell me how to be happier, make more money, or lose weight, then I’ll pass. But if it’s a book that is called something else (think Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth) or Ruiz’s 4 Agreements, then I’ll read and be all in.

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  19. I just started reading “Further along the road less traveled” and I’m loving it. I would recommend reading the prequel “along the road less traveled” 1st. If I had the prequel, I would read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. The best book or the part which I cling on the most is and must always be relatable to myself. You know! I am the most important being for me.
    I’ve read many self- help but I can’t remember lessons which doesn’t lit a spark of memory from me.

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