Self Help Books; Are They For You?

How To Pick Self-Help Books

A thriving industry has grown up around the practice of writing self-help books. It is not actually a new thing, either, when you think back you can all probably name a few yourself. They may be about weight loss, they may be about finding (and keeping) your perfect partner. Some are about understanding the special people in your life that bit better. What they all have in common is that they address a need within a person – a need that that person has identified and considers an immediate concern. This can be just about anything – if you have lain awake at night, or spent idle moments in the day thinking about something that makes you anxious, the chances are that it has been written about somewhere by an author looking to address the problem.

What makes a self-help book is its outlook. Generally, you will find that they speak in bracing, positive terms directly to you as an individual. This differentiates a self-help book from a more scientific textbook that may address the specific problem in dry language and enumerate possible solutions to it. A self-help book will generally favour one specific approach, and concern itself with getting you to follow that approach. There is a tendency for self-help books to be written by someone who has faced the problem themselves and wants to share how they overcame it. This fact alone will be a good way of deciding whether the self-help book is for you.

Many people feel that self-help books take a simplistic, cajoling approach that offers only platitudes and a set, unchanging solution to a problem that may be a lot more complicated. As individual human beings, we have all learned over time that something that works for a friend may not be quite as beneficial for us. The same is true about plans of action for specific problems. Though you may see on the surface that your problem is similar to that of someone else, a solution that works for them might not help you – indeed it may even exacerbate your problem.

All of the above gives the impression that self-help books are of no value, but this would be misleading. Several self-help books have had results that have been proven over time. As a rule of thumb, a book that has been around for a while will have some words of wisdom in it that never go out of date and are as true for one person as they are for the next. Using a self-help book like this is certainly unlikely to do you any harm, particularly if it comes with the blessing of someone who knows you well and is aware of your needs. However, the most important thing is to always be aware that the book will not make things great all on its own. It may give you some handy advice, but it is up to you to put that advice to work for you. As was always the case, matching words with action is the key.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on Feb 28, 2009.