Do Self-Help Books Really Help?

Even though I am myself a writer of self-help books, I often ponder this question.

Leafing through those inspiring words of wisdom, including my own, I ask myself, “Actually, isn’t this stating the obvious? After all, everyone knows the importance of being positive, eating right etcetera.”

Somehow, each time these doubts pop up into my head, they are answered by a book or article that I stumble upon. Sarah Ban Breathnach shows me the way to Simple Abundance.And Comfort Queen Jennifer Louden is always at hand to offer healing advice.

Then there is the wonderful O magazine, run by Oprah Winfrey: it is, I believe, what an ideal magazine should be—a perfect mix of articles about everything from food to fashion to inspiration.

The other day, I happened to read an article about the importance of taking a break. An obvious one, again. But just as I was about to flip the page, a paragraph caught my eye. It talked about how we humans don’t allow ourselves to rest even when we intentially take a break. How true! On vacation, or even while trying to catch an afternoon nap, I am always feeling slightly guilty…thinking, I should have actually been getting some chores/files out of the way.

“Look at the animal kingdom,” said the article. “When animals lie down to take a rest, they do it as if they really mean it. Never half-sleep, and always ‘lost to the world’ when they lie down and descend into slumber.”

I loved the phrase: ‘rest like you really mean it.”

And the next time I lay down for a nap, the words floated into my mind and worked like a balm, lulling me into delicious sleep. I promise I slept like a dozen logs, even if for only 20 minutes. Woke up feeling wonderfully refreshed, and ready to take on the rest of the day.

It is times like these when my faith in the power of the written word is resorted. Yes, we all know what to do, but sometimes, a gentle nudge and a friendly reminder helps us step back on the path we lost.

So, I continue to write…hoping to make a difference. And I continue to read the words that others have written…knowing they will make a difference.

Do you feel self-help books work for you? If yes, who are your favourite self-help writers? Do share!



Mary Moonstone
Mary Moonstone6 years ago

Well-written article. Thank you!

Dale Overall

Depends on the book and the writer. Some help people on their journey while others do not. Take what helps you and leave the rest. Jane B. thinks the books only enrich the author. Something else to crab about no doubt, there are places such as libraries where those of us who do not feel like shelling out for a book can borrow it. Yes, I know, not everyone can get to a library either...

One can explore the topic by reading books on the topic of your interest or do research online.

Dale Overall

Apologies, meant to say exploring the topic by reading a number of books from different authors on the same topic for a variety of opinions and viewpoints.

Heléna Kurcab
Heléna Kurcab7 years ago

I believe self-help books are useful as an aid to personal growth and in counteracting the negative energy that engulfs us. However, I would add that, in view of the "me" culture that also surrounds us, we need to be careful not to focus on the "self" and miss the true purpose of the exercise......., that of equipping ourselves to be of more value to others. Anything less and we might simply be feeding our own ego which will never result in true satisfaction and joy.

Pradip Chavda
Pradip Chavda7 years ago

Yes! It does but to the writer and the publisher in monetary terms. The people who really are determine to help themselves have no need to read and people who read will never get up and help themselves.

Betty C.
Betty C7 years ago

Thanks for the wisdom.

Lynn C.
Past Member 7 years ago

They contribute up to a certain point. Really it seems to be an incorporation process. Unless it becomes part of my life, I can read and agree with the wisdom all day long, but there's a little something that has to happen to make the concepts make real change. Maybe serendipity?

Sue H.
Sue H7 years ago

Well, I'm glad that you will continue to write. I spent alot of time in the 70's doing "self-help" books and seminars..... soon, they all became the same, happy for some bits of wisdom from them but I rarely pick them up anymore.

Becky H.
Becky H.7 years ago

I think there are good bad and good books when it comes to self-help books. One book that I have found incredibly helpful to me, by providing guidance for helping me understand and master the extraordinary capacities that are within me, is Scott Edmund Miller's latest book, "The User's Guide to Being Human: The Art and Science of Self." It gave me the ability to look within myself to determine what my specific inner talents were- something I have been trying to figure out for a very long time.

Susan A.
Susan A7 years ago

Deepak Chopra's and Neale Donald Walsch's works have been very helpful to me....among many others...