Self Help is the Best Help – Why?

Written by Karl Perera, MA, DipLC 

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As I have been telling my readers and visitors for many years, self-help is the best help. We’ll go into the details of exactly why in just a moment. But first, a word of caution.

Self-help books, podcasts and videos are everywhere, but they are not all equal. That’s why I’m here, to guide you how to make the most of the potential within you to help yourself.

Let’s face it, no one knows you as you do. But even so, self help is also about becoming more self aware. There is always plenty that we don’t know about ourselves. Self help materials, such as worksheets, books, audios and downloads aim to aid us in this search for inner wisdom. But how can you best use these resources to find out more about yourself and to begin to succeed in self development?

Self help is the best help because it doesn’t just offer advice, it offers perspective and is highly educational. Self help books, podcasts and audios can teach you how to handle challenges and social interactions with greater success and give you an opportunity to explore your feelings.

Before we continue to look more closely at why self help is the best help, here is my top tip if you are looking to build your self esteem and confidence:

People Who Are in Control of Their Lives Do the Following Things Differently

“I am the captain of my soul.”

William Ernest Henley. Poem entitled “Invictus”.

You can read or listen to the full poem Invictus here.

The quote above can be interpreted in many different ways. But, in general, it means that you are in control of your own destiny. It may not always feel like it, but it’s true. Self-help is inspirational and can motivate you to take control of your thoughts and feelings.

My thoughts on this poem are that it supports the powerful notion of self help as the best help because it declares that you are the captain, not just of your fate but of your soul. For me, the soul is your inner being, the part of you that is beyond your physical body. It is the very essence of who and what you are. So, you are responsible and in charge of where you go and what you become.

Don’t lose sight of your own power to self heal, to help yourself. You are not a slave to the events of your life, the accidents, or to others. If you understand the power of self help and the potential within you, and if you use this well, then you truly are the captain of your soul.

We all have mistakes; things about ourselves that we are not proud of. But, at the end of the day, you need to recognize your flaws and make the necessary changes to become a better person. A person who is truly living life to its fullest potential. This is only possible with reflection and guidance whether that comes from another person or a self help book.

People who are in control of their lives do the following things differently:

  • they forgive themselves for their mistakes
  • they remain optimistic about what they can accomplish tomorrow.
  • they understand that they are responsible for the direction of their lives

Do self help books and the self help genre in general actually help people?

There are many views on this varying from the extreely positive to the very negative. Some people even claim that self help and the many books written in this field are all a big scam and don’t help anybody but the author. What do most people think about this?

Methodology for this research: I collected together 512 replies in a discussion on Reddit here, a popular forum for discussion online. I tabulated the results into three categories: Yes – self help books are very helpful, no – they are not helpful and can’t deliver what they promise, and those who are undecided or think that they can sometimes help.

So what do people think? Here are the results:

Are Self Esteem Books Helpful?

YesNoSometimes
13410640
47.8%37.8%14.2%
Are self help books helpful? Analysis of forum commenter opinions of self help books in a discussion on Reddit

Conclusions: Based on this research of 512 answers on Reddit, we can see just how much scepticism exists towards self help books. I think we can extend this to the field itself.

Some of the reasons for this scepticism may be justified in the person’s mind according to experience, but despite the doubts, this research suggests that approximately two-thirds of the people taking part in this discussion either believe that self help books are useful, or that they can be used to inspire change at least in a limited way.

My own experience, both as a reader and as a writer, is generally positive and I believe that many people have been helped by these books and therefore that they have value. Check out my bookshop for my top self esteem books.

Negative Habits vs. Positive Experiences

Positive experiences make you feel good about yourself and your life. Negative habits make you feel bad about yourself and your life. But what really counts is how you reflect on these experiences and the judgements you make about them.

If you can stop reacting negatively to the events of your life and learn to regard them in a more positive light, then self-improvement will follow.

Positive habits have been shown to improve moods, while negative ones worsen them. The practice of positive psychology can actually help us to live longer, happier and more healthy lives (Fredrikson, 2003).

People who want to change their lifestyles often choose to replace a bad habit with a good one. This is known as the “substitution principle.” For more about how this works, see this article by Dearborn (1935). For example, if someone has an addiction to smoking, they can choose to replace it with something else like chewing gum or getting some fresh air instead.

Personally, the day that I chose to change my focus from the things that were missing in my life to the things that I was lucky enough to have was the day that my life changed. I had been suffering from years of depression and very low self esteem and only when I changed my focus and attitude, did my eyes start to open to the possibility of positive change. You can do the same as I did.

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How to Create a Plan for Your Life & Achieve Goals Faster

There are many ways to achieve your goals and make your life better. But don’t make the mistake of taking this too far. One small achievable goal at a time is better than doing what I did, which was to think of all the things I needed to change in my life. That was overwhelming!

Don’t try to make a life plan just take it easy. Plan to have a goal every month, every week, or even every day. As long as you keep to your short-term goals, chances are you will eventually reach your bigger goals. This is a much more motivating way to live.

When my life seemed to be stuck and I felt lost, I used this goal by goal strategy and as I moved slowly forward, things improved and my mood and motivation followed.

The Importance of Self-Help for You

The self-help industry is worth billions of dollars every year. It has grown from just books to videos, podcasts and many other formats. But this can lead to overload, so do choose wisely and focus on what you need. For example, if you are building self esteem, consider self esteem worksheets. If you want to build your confidence, consider a self hypnosis audio that will help you.

Self-help is the best help as, in the workplace, it can strengthen your communication skills or help you build better relationships with your team members. It provides insights from experienced people who have learnt from making mistakes and wish to share their life-changing ideas with you.

This is how I began over twenty years ago when I created this website and began my work helping others to overcome depression and low self esteem as I had. I wanted to help as many people as I could so I published a book that sold many thousands of copies, Self Esteem Secrets.

During the time I have been running and developing this website, I have witnessed how self-hypnosis was so popular with my readers. I received many emails thanking me for my work and telling me how I had helped them through my writing here. I have always been motivated by helping others and although I do advise you to get professional therapy or counseling if you need it, self help is the best help because it gives you the power to heal yourself and become a better person.

Conclusion: The Best Help You Can Give Yourself is a Good Book

The first self-help book was published in 1759 by Samuel Johnson. It was called “The Rambler” and it helped its readers understand the importance of emotional control, as well as the power of self-reflection.

In this section, we will be focusing on how books can boost your self esteem.

Books are great for self-reflection. You can ask yourself questions about your goals, desires, and future plans. They provide you with a space to explore your thoughts and feelings in writing which is helpful in understanding what you are feeling. Books offer ways to become more mindful about your life journey and its direction.

Books are also good for teaching you how to look at the world differently or discovering something new about yourself that you didn’t know before. Books open doors and can open your eyes to new ways of thinking and doing. I know books have helped me become the person I am today,

The Benefits of Reading Self-help Books

Reading self-help books can help people maintain a positive outlook.

Self-help books like The Power of Now and A New Earth can have an empowering, therapeutic effect on people’s lives. What these books require is an open mind and a willingness to change.

Self-help books are good for people who want to make a shift in their lives but don’t know how and don’t know where to start. These self-help books will give you the knowledge you need to take your life in the direction you want it to go.

3 Steps to Self Help That Will Improve Your Life

1. Understand what self-help means to you

Why are you in need of self help? What help exactly are you looking for? How much time will you devote to your journey of self change?

2. Seek out the resources that work for you

The most important thing to do when looking for the right resource is to evaluate what exactly you want to accomplish with self help. Do you want help with becoming more confident and effective socially? Are you looking for improvements in how you approach challenges in your life and if so, which challenges?

Once you know these things you can look for the correct resources whether that is a course or audio program online or a face to face coaching session. All of these can help you help yourself.

3. Practice self care and mindfulness

Self care is important for everyone but it is especially important for those who work in the creative industries. We need to be able to turn off and recharge. It’s not just about weekends or vacations, it takes a lot of time and energy to be creative. And if we don’t take time out for self care, the quality of our productivity will suffer.

Practising self care is essential because it allows us to keep our creativity alive and stay invested in what we’re doing.

Again, my experience with self care was that through being depressed I was ignoring myself and becoming more and more demotivated. I started going to the gym and following a goal to get fitter which made me feel so much better. I think the biggest thing was the fact that I was actually getting out and taking steps to help myself and this made me feel so much stronger.

References

  • Dearborn, G. V. N. (1935). Notes on habituation in mental derangement. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology30(1), 22.
  • Fredrickson, B. L. (2003). The value of positive emotions: The emerging science of positive psychology is coming to understand why it’s good to feel good. American scientist91(4), 330-335.
  • Henley, William E. “Invictus.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation.

Website Author and Your Guide

Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.