Why Your Self Help Books Are Making You Feel Worse

The self help genre of books have been dominating book store shelving for the last few decades. You can barely enter a coffee shop without someone pouring over the book that “changed their life.” However, there is a whole other group of people who pick up these books, read a few pages and then sink into a pit of despair. If these books are designed to enhance our lives, why do some of us have this reverse effect? Here we’ll cover the reasons why those self help books might be making you feel bad and what you can do to use self help the right way.

*Quick note: we may earn a commission on our recommendations at no additional cost to you.

Attach to your desires

One of the biggest things that will hold us back in all areas of our life is not first coming into alignment with who we are and what we want to have/do/accomplish in this life.

Taking the time to get a clear picture of these things can give us a metaphorical North Star to work toward.

You see, oftentimes, we scoop up a self help book in hopes of finding all of the answers we need to our own life. While this can be a tempting thing, the truth is, the people who wrote the self help books often wrote them based on their own journey to find or connect with themselves.

Truth is: you can never find who you are by learning someone else’s story. Sure, you will gather bits and pieces of inspiration, but what worked for one won’t work for all.

If you know deep down there is something bigger meant for you, the first step to take is to go through the process of aligning with what that is. Our Rich Minimalist program was created to do exactly that! Click here to check out the course and use code FUNSIZED to save 10%!

That fear mindset is kicking in

Our brains are so good at making us feel inadequate. Without even realizing it, they can be quietly whispering lies like, “You’re not good enough for this.” “Why don’t you try harder?” “This will never work for you.

More often than not these little misconceptions are things that we have picked up and translated in our brains as truths. Perhaps we had a parent or guardian to who put those beliefs there, or we took life events and built our own interpretation.

Got bad grades in school: “I’m not smart. What’s the point in trying?”

Got good grades in school: “I’m only worthy when I accomplish things perfectly.”

Without realizing it we have spent our lives building an entire story about who we are and what we are capable of. Then, out of nowhere, with no warning, someone or something can come out of the shadows and trigger that limiting belief we have.

At the risk of sounding incredibly obnoxious, this can actually be a really great thing! (Yeah, it was obnoxious, my bad.) Just hear me out.

You can’t defeat a monster you don’t see

Taking the time to recognize these little triggers that pop up can help us start to uncover what our limiting beliefs are.

You might begin to notice that you feel mad, angry, defeated or disappointed in yourself when someone tells you you’re wrong. Maybe you tried quoting a book or stating a statistic and someone pointed out that you got it wrong.

This might be triggering that perfectionist who shames herself for getting it wrong.

Perhaps this triggered that inner child who teachers said would never amount to anything.

Then again, maybe this is a result of years of being gaslit by a parent. You don’t know how to trust your own thoughts or opinions anymore. Not even if they are factual!

The truth of the matter is, there is no way to kill of these voice of self-doubt without first knowing where they are coming from and getting to the source.

Once you’ve started to uncover what that little voice is saying, that’s when you actually have something to work with!

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Accomplishment overload

On top of the fear and doubt that might creep up, there is also no denying that a lot of self help books can overload us with strategies and game plans for success that just reading it makes us want to crawl in a hole and die.

The summary of a lot of self help books looks like this:

  • Wake up early.
  • Don’t drink coffee. Drink more water.
  • Read more.
  • Meditate.
  • Speak only positive words.
  • Oh, words of affirmation.
  • Journal.
  • Work.
  • Start a side hustle.
  • Workout.
  • Make time for important people.
  • Get a lot of sleep.

I don’t know about you, but that sure looks like a long list of shit I’m not currently doing.

We can read these things, recognize that we aren’t doing any of them and then go into a full-blown panic just imagining trying to fit all of this stuff into a 24 hour period. Scratch that, a 16 hour period. Gotta get those perfect 8 hours of sleep!

Pick your thing

Instead of allowing your brain to swirl around with all of the things you’re supposed to be doing, a good place to start can be scrolling the chapters to find something (one thing) that peaks your interest. Start there.

If you kind of like the idea of journaling in the morning, read the chapter on journaling. Decide that you will spend 10 minutes a day on that. That’s it. See if that habit sticks, if it does, great. Keep at it. When you feel ready, crack open the book to see if something else stands out.

Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking you can (or have to) transition into an entirely new person overnight just because a book told you to.

You are amped up with no place to go

Say you do try out all of the methods for self help success. You wake up early, workout, journal, meditate, run a marathon…whatever it might be. You spend 2 weeks like this, checking off all of the items from your “to do” list only to find that you are still the exact same person who started.

Then, you crash.

The book told you you’d be successful if you hit all of these markers and yet here you are, same old you. You’ve accomplished nothing more than running yourself ragged over the last 2 weeks.

Why does this happen?

Most of us don’t realize that these changes need to happen gradually and that the first step is alignment with self.

As much as we’d like to think so, we don’t run like a well oiled machine. In fact, even machines have their own issues and struggles that other machines don’t struggle with. So let’s just say nothing operates the same way as something else.

What a lot of self help books tend to do is give us the motivation and basic steps to follow without giving us a realistic expectation for how much we are able to accomplish and how quickly we can accomplish things.

Is your deep love for self help books stifling your creativity? Here's why they might make you feel worse and how to use them the right way!

You’ve got the wrong book

If designated self help books just aren’t cutting it for you, what does work?

Were you one of those kids who would watch the Karate Kid and then have this insane motivation to go…to sit ups or stand on one leg or something?

What has proven affective to motivate you in a healthy way that feels fun and doesn’t send you into a meltdown?

Start there.

A lot of times instead of self help style books, turning to a non-fiction (or fiction) book can be insanely helpful.

Reading a story of someone else overcoming and conquering a fear or exploring new ways of living can help you be an un-active participant in their story. There is no check list for you or high expectations. All you have to do is enjoy the outcome and maybe get a little bit inspired to step into your own journey.

Here are some of the best non-self-help books you might enjoy.

Find what works for you

At the end of the day all you can do is find what works for you. The best way to do this is to recognize what in your life is already working great.

Do you know that a hot shower always helps you clear your mind and relax?

Are you someone who finds peace in cooking a good meal?

Maybe you’re actually perfectly content until someone makes you think you shouldn’t be.

Take the time to evaluate your life and pay attention to your daily habits and begin to uncover what is already working, then build off of that.

Start small

Maybe you know you should be drinking more water. Start with one water bottle a day. No need to go chugging a gallon when you’re already not in the habit of even having a glass.

Wanting to physically move more? Commit to walking your dogs around the block…or hell, around the back yard to start. No one says you need to commit to an hour at the gym.

Need more veggies? Add some to your favorite go-to meal. Like blended carrots in your spaghetti sauce or a handful of spinach with your lunch.

Whatever it is you decide to start with, start small and make it easy.

Leave your water bottle on the counter by the coffee maker instead of putting it away.

Hang the dog leash on the front door knob.

Put your veggies next to your favorite snacks.

The best way to start a new habit is by making it blend in with your current habits.

You don’t need to be fixed

At the end of the day, taking the time to remind yourself that you are not in need of being fixed. There may be some healing that needs to be placed, but ultimately you just need to be reminded that you have all the tools you need. You don’t need to seek sources outside of yourself to make you whole.

If you need a little more guidance aligning with your highest self and creating a game plan for your life use the code FUNSIZED to save 10% on our Rich Minimalist course that designed to help you get started!

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Is your deep love for self help books stifling your creativity? Here's why they might make you feel worse and how to use them the right way!

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