The Self Help Epidemic: How they reel you in

Dear Unemployed Graduates,

Before I explain anything, I would just like to reiterate that this blog is meant for opinion and theory and no-one is obliged to change their way of thinking; as a matter of fact, if you become more skeptical, then I am pleased.

Now, let’s start on a positive note. Not all self help books are rotten. The books that I admire in this genre are the ones that allow you to reflect on your life with a critical eye; you see how you’ve been acting and you can take only the relevant recommendations that the book offers, leaving the rest as is. Winning formula: You read, You reflect, you try what you think will work = self help (literally).

I believe that if a self help book does not contain that formula, then I see little value and retain that you shouldn’t waste your hard earned money on them. And here is why:

Self Help is a manipulative type of literature: the empty promise


Self Help often comes with a promise; 10 habits of millionaires, 4 rules to become stinking rich, Agree less win more, The science of winners (all titles are made up). These titles are made to entice you, made to provoke emotion, they are where the author makes the big bucks.

I hate the empty promises that these books make. They want you to think that there is only one way to make money, be successful or be happy (which is very wrong). These self declared gurus claim to conduct you to your wildest desires, but all they care about is showing you to the check-out cart of Amazon and their job is done. Often you are only buying the title of these books and not the pages in-between.

Self Help is a guiding rule book to help prevent liability



To further reiterate the ‘my way is the best’, self help authors create a system in which you have to follow a set of rules, steps or habits to gain what you want. It’s my way or the highway.

But life is not so linear that people can apply a cookie-cutter method to solve all. Each person and situation is unique. Some rules may benefit the reader, while others simply do not apply. But this is the truly genius thing that self help authors have thought of. If you do not follow to the letter their recommendations, then you cannot gain that empty promise that they make on the cover. Genius. Evil Genius.

Person: I didn’t become a billionaire reading your book!

Guru: Did you follow rule 7? Lick your cat behind the ear to ward off the boogieman?

Person: No. I was busy trying to figure out how to mine the natural resources on asteroids.

Guru: Yep, sorry, should have licked the cat behind the ear.

Self Help Creates High Expectations and Low Standards


High expectations because people are fed the catchy promises and believe them. They believe a 300 paged step by step book is going to solve all of their problems. Then, they find out that the book has sold a monstrous quantity of copies and this just puts fuel on the flame; exceptions of the the book raise.

Low standards are created because people follow blindly the step by step guides thinking that the do-all, prevent-all and cure-all cookie cutter method is going to work. People don’t ask themselves the relevance or the need a certain step has on their life.

Motivation in Self Help is Short Lived


Like New Years resolutions, the motivation in self help is short lived. People will follow the guides rules up to a point and then abandon their plans.

The reason for this, in my opinion, is that most self helps only focus on one aspect of life; success, relationships, money, work etc. People don’t take into consideration that massive action in one part of you life means neglecting another.

Example: working 80 hour weeks might bring you a new promotion, but you might not have time for friends, family, gym (other things that you might retain important). Therefore it does not become sustainable and you abandon it. Read my post on The Spheres of Life: Definition of Success, to understand how this works.


In conclusion, I generally don’t like self help books, but I have read some that give great information; the ones that make you think. After this hefty preaching post, all I want to say is be a bit skeptical and ask the right questions that will make the best decision for you.

Let me know what you think in the comments! Is there a self help book that is good or bad?

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