Are You Addicted to Self-Help?

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The obvious issue with self-help is this: its ultimate goal is to reach a point where you no longer need it.

Think about it: The whole goal of personal growth is to build yourself to be the person you’ve always wanted. The whole point of pursuing happiness is to reach a point where happiness no longer has to be pursued.

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You work on improving your charisma, your relationships, your mental fortitude so that you can enjoy life without the heartbreaks and the drama of having to deal with other people’s drama.

Self-help is therefore in a weird way, trying to teach us how to not need it.

The only way to truly achieve one’s potential, to become self-actualized, is to stop trying to be all of those things and just be them.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that the self-help industry plays an important role in shaping one’s mindset. But you’ve got to do it.

Don’t Get Addicted to Self-Help

The self-help addicts feel like they need to enroll in every new course, read all the books, listen to all the podcasts, hire all the life coaches, and help others self-help themselves into becoming their most brilliant selves.

For the self-help addict, the end goal is not to improve, but rather to figure out a way to establish a human self without all the drama and pain associated with having to develop yourself.

Their identity is “a self-help addict,” even though they’d never admit it.

The truth is, life as a human being is quite painful. You can’t become a real human being without going through at least a few painful steps, and no amount of self-help can make it any less painful.

My Own Experience With Self-Help

Back in my early 20s, when I was what I would characterize as a self-help addict, I’d spend most of my time reading articles, trying all sorts of weird stuff, from binaural beats to self-hypnosis, positive affirmations, and telling myself, over and over again, how much I loved myself in front of a mirror.

I’d visualize my goals, I’d do all the exercises, write down the five-year plan, and try a bit of ASMR to soothe the nerves.

I tried it all, but at the end of the day, when it was time to fall asleep, I felt the sort of anxiety that often made me cry.

I eventually realized that the funny thing about self-help is that it doesn’t work unless you want it to be something to keep you busy, like sitting in a rocking chair, or for it to be another five minute topic whenever you meet others who share this passion of yours.

It took me most of my twenties to realize that the problem was not the system, the courses, or the books. The problem was not the how of self-help, but rather the why.

And ironically, this made my life much worse. All the books I’d read, all the exercises I’d do, they were all acting as a spotlight on my own inadequacies and failures, on my own inability to hold the world upon my shoulders.

You’ve Got to Help Yourself

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

Sam Levenson

Self-help is called that because you’ve got to live the advice that you consume. Nothing works unless you do.

All you’re doing if you don’t try to help yourself is repeating all the reasons why you’re not worthy of success, or love, or friendship.

The same way as watching YouTube videos of bodybuilders won’t help you build any muscle, you’ve got to do the work that is required in order to truly help yourself.

Self-Help Is About Helping Others Too

I believe this is the secret reason self-help is so popular. You can only go so far by reading the advice and applying it.

The same way a lot of popular bloggers decide to share blogging tips and strategies, you get a stronger sense of what needs to be done if you are sharing the self-help advice that helped you the most.

You fall in love with the process, you realize the importance of having to do the work of building a self that you’re proud of.

After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t self-help others into becoming their best selves if you can’t even help yourself.

Self-Help Doesn’t Work Unless You Are Willing to Help Yourself

There is no such thing as an elevator to being your perfect self. You’ve got to take the stairs.

Sure, there are some habits and actions that are more helpful than others, but nothing works unless you are willing to let go of your desire to be held by the hand and directed towards becoming your best self and assume responsibility for who you want to be.

Self-help is just that… a framework that allows you to help yourself in ways that you probably never thought before, because, let’s face it, one of the most paradoxical truths of life is that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Becoming aware of strategies that might help you succeed in life is important, but becoming addicted to consuming them on a daily basis, while you cry yourself to sleep at night, is not what the law of attraction is all about.

Chanting “there are no weeds” is not going to magically make all the weeds in your garden disappear. You’ve got to do the work, pull the weeds out, and take care of your garden.

If you do not do the work of helping yourself, if you do not help others, you might just be using self-help as a clever way to run away from who you are.

The self-help addict may get to experience the feeling of growth over and over again, but the goal is not to feel it or to write about it, or talk about it with your friends. The goal is to embody it.

You’re not who you say you’ll become, you’re what you do. Today. And tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow.


  1. Solid article, Cristian.

    Self-Help and Self-Care from my perspective often come across a bit like a life preserver, and we’re not really drowning all the time, and I see no reason to allow anxiety to kidnap my navigational radar that is my fear (read in: awareness of things/feelings/conditions/scenarios that blip on my radar screen, sometimes my vanity telling my ego to tell my radar to DUCK… as I will look much better WITH a head than without one. That’s my kind of ego vanity, and it informs Fear Radar Awareness). We’re of course immersed in life and all its internal and external influences. The constituents, the Inner Counsel so to speak in me? Rather than being addicted to self-help or self-care, which always jumps to the innuendo of get-a-room… with yourself for that, please… :) , I play the immersion game as I steep in the foundational influence of Self-Support through action in my process. Sometimes that action is Silence. Sometimes it’s shifting focus to continually redirect scale as I run up and down the gears and shift and corner through the turns feeling the pressurized experience of the weight and substance and trash f what I work on. I have my BITCh Method (Butt In The Chair + Keeping in mind to inform myself with, “Well, you certainly talk a good game, though can you shut your mouth and box?”

    Self-Support is where it is at for me, and being comfortable with the not-knowing where forgetting is for getting. It makes much more room for the good stuff. Plus, Mark Twain said something that I feel applies here as did Teddy Roosevelt:
    ~ Mark Twain — “I have had many troubles in my life, most of which never happened.”
    ~ Teddy Roosevelt — “If you were to kick in the pants the person responsible for your troubles, you yourself wouldn’t sit for a week.”
    My fave of my own is, “Don’t waste trouble. Find the workability wise in time in the moment while active in the experience of it. And, that’s especially more so important when things get intense.” In fact when things are intense, that’s often because there is urgency present which compressed and consolidates by pressurizing us up where our boundaries are simply in the shape of ourself. 33psi Self on a good day. A pound or two psi up when things get hot as they’ll sag back to deflate a bit so you still have stick on the tires, and a pound or 2 psi less when it’s cold to drive the grip when things are slippery or slippery-sloped.

    … as a Long-form perspective snippet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very good question, am I addicted? I read a hell-a-lot of the self-help genre. Not so much just for self improvement, but interest also. I love to learn new things, learn different view points etc. I just really resonate with ‘information’ in general. There’s never too much of it in my view! But, in a nutshell, yeah I guess I might be addicted, but for general interest. Maybe that’s even worse LOL.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I remember that much of the self-help and positivity pop psychology of the mid-late 80’s to the late-90’s showed how devastating self-help might become. I believe there is a delicate balance between self-care and self-improvement (which is an ongoing process of learning, developing, implementing, and living out) and self-help. Too little does nothing. Too much may stunt our overall objective and goal. This is why I believe much of the focus now a-days is not so much on self-help, as it is on learning how to live a more mindful and simple life based on one’s intrinsic values and beliefs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You wrote, ” The whole goal of personal growth is to build yourself to be the person you’ve always wanted.” I ask God each morning to help me “be what You made me to be.” That’s my goal for personal growth. You wrote, “The whole point of pursuing happiness is to reach a point where happiness no longer has to be pursued.” I couldn’t agree more! Happiness is an expression of outer circumstances. JOY is the inner state of personal contentment that allows us to be happy in all circumstances. We keep pursuing the “right” path… and as Timothy pointed out, we keep striving to learn “how to live a more mindful and simple life based on one’s intrinsic values and beliefs.” That’s not addiction… that’s just wise!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with each and every word. Self help can be addictive. Self help itself is a great way to learn and grow as a person. But many people fail to understand it and can’t apply it in life. I’m into self help as well but I’ve never been addicted to it. I always wanted to focus on myself​ and my growth as a person and not just chant about who I want to be. I have seen so many people being addicted to self help and consider themselves​ all healed when they are far from it.
    Self help at the end of the day is something we already know. We know we have to make some changes. What we don’t know is when and how.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said, Cristian. Now in my 20s, I’m also struggling in the same self-help paradox: I read self-help books and I try to follow every word. But the truth is, I feel the demand of efficiency in a modern society often make us feel useless if we don’t outperform our peers.
    Even if I believe I’m getting better, I feel empty. It’s as if all the learning is locked inside me and never gets out.
    Maybe it’s just me, but it’s good to hear from someone who has been through the same experience and walked the same road. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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