Do Self-Help Books Do More Harm Than Good?

The Self Help Diet

A couple years ago I got obsessed with my diet and kept a log of everything I ate. I was obsessed with healing depression and anxiety through food.

During this 4 month period I read a lot of books about diet and health. It seemed like everyone and their grandmother wrote a book about a diet and came up with a name for it.

The South Beach Diet, The Atkins diet, The Primal Diet, The BulletProof Diet, The Wild Diet, The Mindful Diet, Gluten-Free Diet, Raw Vegan Diet, The Omega-3 Diet, The South Beach Diet, the Wahls Diet, the Priktin Diet, the Blood Type Diet. The list goes on and on.

Here’s the Cabbage Soup Diet:

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Self-help books are like diet books-everyone has their own method or guidelines. And most authors write like everyone has to follow their rules otherwise we’ll be unhappy and unhealthy.

So Many Books, So Little Time

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The self-help market is a multi-billion dollar industry. Every year thousands of new self-help books get published. 

I’ve found that there’s an unspoken agreement in the self-improvement community that the more self-help books you read, the better you are as a person.

I really believed this when I started reading them like 5 or 6 years ago. At the time I felt depressed, anxious and unhappy everyday, so I looked to these books to feel better.

Some of them had helpful ideas like your thoughts effect your mood and self-compassion is a key part of mental health. But, a lot of these books were filled with nonsense and made me feel worse and more hopeless.

Still, I thought that if I read enough I’d eventually feel better. So with each one I finished I proudly wrote down the title and author. And I took pride as my list grew and grew.

But, I still was really depressed and anxious. And my internal dialogue was highly self critical and mean.

So why did I still feel so neurotic and anxious even after I read dozens of books that were supposed to help me?


Self-Help Books Won’t Save You


“Let go of what you think you should be, so you can become what you are.”

– Chinese Proverb

People involved in the self-help industry are just like anyone else- they want to make money. So there’s an incentive to keep pumping out products.

It’s easy to keep buying books or courses because this might be the one that changes my life.  

This promise of a better life is so enticing that reading self help material can become an addiction. It’s a comfortable addiction- we feel like we’re doing something because we’re reading 10 Rules to Live your Best Life Now!

I think simple things like good habits and learning to be more self compassionate are some of the main tenants of emotional well-being. And people can learn these things without reading books. 

Still, reading and learning all these opinions disguised as facts did improve my life, but not in the way I initially thought it would.

The most important thing I learned is that I don’t need to apply everything I read about to my life.

Maybe all humans should be raw vegans. And living by the Law of Attraction is the way to be happy. But I don’t think so.

I’m a Hypocrite


If you’ve read this blog than you know that I’ve been publishing erotica on Kindle for the past 6 months or so. I’ve written and published 24 stories, all over 3000 words, but am still making less than $200 a month and I’m getting discouraged.

Then I remembered a book about making money by writing and publishing self-help books on Kindle.


My goal is to make at least $1000 a month on Kindle, and I don’t think I’m going to get there writing erotica.

So I’m going to try my hand at this. We’ll see how it goes.

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