Why do some people stop reading Self-Help books and what are their pitfalls?
In an earlier post, we have looked at the 11 benefits of reading self-help books. However, if you do a search online, you will find many curious readers talking about the pitfalls of Self-Help books and why they stop reading Self-Help books.
For better coverage on the topic of “Understand self-help”, besides talking about the upsides, we should also explore the reasons why some people choose to stop reading Self-Help books.
Based on my research online, I have identified the following 5 common reasons:
1 Reading Self-Help books is a waste of time
2 Over reliance on Self-Help books
3 Self-Help books lacked scientific validation
4 Self-Help books give you false hope
5 Self-Help books offers wrong advice or tips
Now let’s explore them together one by one.
* The links for purchasing the books are paid links via Amazon which we may receive commissions from qualifying purchases
#1 Waste of time
Some argue that many Self-Help books waste your time as commonly the writer only has a few simple points to make, but ended up writing a long book containing many irrelevant contents.
The purpose of these writers is to unnecessarily lengthen the books to make more money. Reading Self-Help books waste your time as you would spent precious time reading unnecessary or repeated content.
I have to agree that not all Self-Help books are created with purely good intentions of helping people.
Some are good concise books with clear messages delivered. But there are some which contained only a few key messages and through repeating the same content become 200 to 300-page books. My reading experience with these poorly written books is that they become boring as you begin to read similar content repeatedly.
The Work Around to #1 Waste of Time
- To do screening before purchasing or reading the book.
- Make good use of well-recognized book rating sites such as Amazon or Goodreads. Check out what other users say about the book (You can check the Reading badges at Calm Reading too!)
- Read the blurb of the book
- Study the table of content
- Do a quick read through the book and decide whether the book has content you wanted to read in your mind
If the book fits you and most comments are positive about this Self-Help book, it should not go too wrong when you proceed to read it.
#2 Over reliance
Some argue that people who read Self-Help books grow addictive to them and block out views from the real world.
One common theme of Self-Help books is to teach you how to develop your inner thoughts. Often times they focus on self-development and teach you cut out negative thoughts.
An argument is that these effects will result in causing people to become self-centered, and in some extreme cases people would even begin to screen out friends or family members whom they think are not worthy.
The intentions of many Self-Help books are good, but it becomes another story if you indulge in reading them and become over-reliant on them.
The Work Around to #2 Over reliance
- Share with your trusted friends and family regularly what you have learnt in Self-Help books and ask them for their opinions
- Do a sense check and find practical ways to test out the knowledge you have learnt from the book
- Ask yourself constantly if the content you are reading makes sense or not
- Besides reading, take a break to engage in other healthy activities such as exercise, cooking, socializing, etc. to make sure you stick around in the real world. Not just living inside the book world!
#3 Lack of scientific validation
Some say that you should stop reading self-help books because they are not reliable at all. The core reason is because many of them are not written by experts so they lacked scientific validation or basis on the theories the books suggested.
I agree that many Self-Help books are written by some “fake” gurus with the main purpose of only making money.
If you read deeper on certain books, you would easily figure out that the ideas they suggested are quite superficial and do not make too much sense.
The Work Around to #3 Lack of scientific validation
I think we should first understand what is that we are looking for to improve or to resolve before we turn to Self-Help books for help.
- You can first understand what is self-help and how they can help us
- If you are clear about what you wanted, even if the self-help books are not written by experts they can still facilitate you in resolving your issues. If they can work, that means they have value on you and they are worthwhile to your case
- In fact, even if experts wrote such Self-Help books you should still approach with an open mind as it is important for you to figure out whether the knowledge is reliable or not.
#4 False hope
Some people consider reading Self-Help books as useless as they cannot provide the value as purported that they will provide. They criticize reading too many Self-Help books make you delusional.
Some common allegations against Self-Help books for giving you false hope include:
i. the ideas for growth or success are oversimplified or overpromised
ii. they give you unrealistic expectations
iii. the ideas are only theoretical and lacked real practicality
The above three factors combined may give you a feeling that it is easy to achieve goals or attainments simply by reading and following steps in Self-Help books.
I have to agree that some Self-Help books are of subpar standard. They would stress on the many advantages of growing yourself and quoting some success stories after adopting certain tips offered by the book. Sometimes these stories sounded too good to be true.
The Work Around to #4 False hope
The key is that we will need to understand in this world there is actually no overnight success.
- Success is tough and there are only a handful of people who can become successful
- The ideas in Self-Help books are often true, but they are “true” only when you are willing and able to attain the goals by take action in reality
- Remember that you can only grow when you take actions and carry out the knowledge as set out in books.
- Time and action would be the key to realise the ideas in Self-Help books
#5 Wrong advice or tips
Some argue that Self-Help books are unreliable and often offer wrong tips or advice.
The basis of this argument is similar to Point #3 above as some consider Self-Help books are not written by experts so they are not reliable. It follows that these unreliable books often offer the wrong advice or tips.
If we follow the ideas of these books we are destined to fail.
The Work Around to #5 Wrong advice or tips
When we read any books, not just Self-Help books, we should always take it with a grain of salt.
- When you are learning and absorbing knowledge from books, you should always develop your own critical thoughts
- You can agree or disagree with the author. You may come to terms with the author and learn and adopt the knowledge shared. Or you can always point out the flaws in the author’s arguments and build or develop your own knowledge
- We should adopt the above thought process regardless of whether the book is written by an “expert” or not
Understand that books are like a medium. Through this medium, especially through Self-Help books, you can learn and develop your inner thoughts.
At the end of the day, you will need to make judgements to all the books you read and take charge of what you are learning.
After reading this post, will you choose to stop reading Self-Help books or work around them to get the most value out of these genre of books? Let me know in the comments below!
This post is part of a series under the category “Understand Self-Help” at Calm Reading.