Does self-help advice work?


There’s a mountain of literature out there for self-help, is any of it really helpful? One thing I’ve found for sure is that self-help books have an impact in another way then just the advice given.

I’m talking about the affect on the mindset from reading self-help books. The attitude it puts me in when I sit down to read and learn and possibly practice.

I may not do the exercise at the back of the chapter, but I just might get up and clean up the kitchen after I’m done reading.

It goes beyond just motivation in the moment, a little pump-up before doing bigger tasks. I’ve also noticed a change in my mindset and perceptions over a longer period of time.

I’ve noticed since beginning to read books about self-improvement, that I’ve developed a need for progress.

What I mean is that I’m constantly thinking of ways that I can improve my situation, or ways I can improve myself to be a stronger person. It spurs on creativity to look for ways to manage the setbacks I deal with.

I find after reading I have a deeper sense of purpose, I know I have work to do. It gives me identity, I am somebody who strives for improvement. It gives me something to be proud of, I’m working on something.

I find myself adopting ideas from the books when I’m drawing a blank for how to deal with a situation.

There’s times when I feel so down and low, or anxious or angry, and it seems like there’s no answer. I’m finding myself starting to remember things I’ve read about, and to use those ideas to handle problems. I guess you could say that for me, I have found certain ideas helpful.

For example, the idea that you have the choice to how you will react to your life circumstance. You may not have good feelings, but your actions are always your choice. This idea has helped me in tough situations, to be able to step back subjectively and stop myself from self-destructive behavior.

It’s a focus on the positive, rather then the negative.

Negative thinking is a common symptom of depression. Going down rabbit holes of everything wrong with your life, focusing on the ills and pains of life.

Reading about new perspectives, and gaining knowledge on your conditions can distract you in a healthy way from negative thinking. It’s good just to get a rest from negative thoughts and break the patterns up in your brain.

I’ve read articles about depression’s affects on the brain, and something I’ve read about is how depression grinds sort of a groove into the brain, that becomes harder and harder to get out of. The negative neural networks become the most popular in use. Perhaps breaking out of the negative thoughts and thinking about new perspectives can aid in starting new healthy neural networks.

It makes me feel accomplished, which affects my self-esteem, which lowers my depression.

I feel like I’m at least doing something, even if it’s the very least of something, to move forwards. This is important in coping with depression, because a lot of the negative thoughts are guilt about not doing anything positive.

I can look back and see that I am more comfortable with myself, and part of this is from identifying with working on myself by reading books. I see myself as at least trying, and this makes me feel less worthless.

I have new perspectives and principles because of the books I’ve read.

I can see things from a different light now since learning what I have from books. The exercises or ideas in the book might not have proved helpful, but the author may have shown me another side that I had never thought of before.

I’m working on principles of discipline, respect, love, and growth. I’ve learned about some of these principles from my reading.

Do self-help books have a positive impact?

In my personal opinion, yes. They may not solve your problem directly, or offer any useful advice to you. They might, however, offer you perspectives coping with future problems. They may help you cope with depression not from the advice given, but for the mindset it puts you into.

The next time you find yourself scoffing at shallow self-help advice, ask yourself if there’s another benefit you could have from reading that kind of literature.

Have you found self-help books to be helpful? Please feel free to leave a comment about your experience.


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