I’ve pretty much read all the best self help books and programs over the last 5 years, and my views on self help have evolved over time.
In the past, I had a very one sided view of self help – it was AWESOME.
I think that anyone striving to be a better can look no further than some of the best self help books out there, like Think And Grow Rich, amongst others.
Now that I’ve dug deeply into self help, I also think that self help can be equally bad for you as it is good. Here are some symptoms of negative self help:
1. Thinking You Know Everything.
The Greek myth Icarus tells the story of a son who escaped prison by flying with wings made of wax. Ignoring his father’s strict instructions, he flew too close to the sun, and the wax melted. He then fell to his death.
Becoming a “know it all” self-help expert has this same kind of danger. Be warned – whenever you think you know everything, that’s when you can be sure you are missing something – and disaster is about to strike.
This year I’ve learned that true learning requires a detachment from “what I think I know”. It’s exactly what I think I know which blocks me from learning something new.
When I meet people who think they know everything about personal development, I call them sophomores. In Greek the word sophomore means wise fool. (I guess the Greeks knew a lot about this stuff huh?)
True wisdom comes from being open to new possibilities.
2. Giving Unsolicited Advice
Because you think you know it all, you suddenly feel compelled to make everyone else just like you.
Here’s a reality check:
Most people don’t want to change, they want to keep validating their beliefs and stay the same. When you come around with all of your unsolicited advice, there will be some who listen at first, but for the most part, people will find a way to discredit you and stay as they are.
There are only a tiny percentage of people who are open to hearing a new perspective andinterested in change. Those are the people who I help.
Giving unsolicited advice can also come across very arrogant.
If you want other people to change, you have to meet them peacefully on their planet. Unsolicited advice is like a hardcore alien invasion.
3. Always Trying To “Fix” Yourself And Other People.
It’s one thing to want more out of life, but it’s another story if you’re the person who is always trying to fix yourself
The guy who obsessively tries to fix himself and other people is usually coming from a very bad mindset…
The, “I’m not good enough as I am” mindset.
There’s a problem with this mindset. One of the biggest reasons people get into reading the best self help books is to improve their self esteem. One of the big ways to improve your self esteem is to accept your self for who you are.
What kind of message are you putting out there if you can’t chill out for a bit, you always have to “fix” your imperfections?
Do you see the irony?
Striving to be a better person is a noble cause, but true masters know how to accept themselves and take right action – just because that’s the right thing to do.
You shouldn’t have to hate yourself to have motivation to change.
4. Striving For Some Unknown Point In The Future When You Will Be Perfect.
Reading self help books comes from the best intentions. You want to be better. But once you get into the self help movement, you are suddenly overwhelmed by all of these “gurus” who keep telling you how much better you can be.
On one level this is true – but does that justify becoming a person who constantly postpones their happiness until some future point when they are finally “successful”.
Success is to be found in the present moment. If you suddenly caught on to how short your life really was – and how you could die at any time – then you might see that suffering when you don’t have to is a tragic waste.
You don’t have to stop enjoying what you do to be successful, and being a blissfully happy person while you strive for success is totally possible.
What do you have to do to be happy now, and successful some day?
5. Avoiding Other People Because They Aren’t Like You.
Napoleon Hill says to keep negative people away at all cost, Brian Tracy says you become more like your “reference group” and Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of your 5 best friends.
Those were all mantras that I used to live by – but not so anymore.
Here’s the deal, if you cannot tolerate other people’s views because they are different from yours, that means that subconsciously, you are depending on them to tell you what to believe.
Someone with a true internal frame of reference can be around other people without being bent out of shape about it.
What’s more, when you start to read all the best self help books, a subtle dynamic comes over you that you are unaware of. You start seeing yourself as an “enemy” to others.
All I’m saying is, YES, you should keep positive influences around you, but is that a reason to lose your ability to relate to most regular people?
This is a recipe for loneliness beyond measure. Instead of doing this, find a way to relate to people when they’re at their best. Stop looking to see how different you are from other people, and start looking to see your similarities.
Avoid The Pitfalls Of Self Help With The All Or Nothing Principle.
I still think self help is a great thing, but now that I know what the negative sides of personal growth are, I have one bit of “unsolicited advice” for anyone who is passionate about change.
If you want to change, follow the All Or Nothing Principle.
This means, that if you are committed to growth, and you are using self help to meet that end, give your personal development everything you’ve got.
Do whatever it takes to get the outcome you want, or don’t try at all, because if you half ass your personal growth, you might take only half the journey.
Or worse… you might wind up like one of those people who’ve read all the best self help books, and now has some superficial knowledge to run ego trips on other people, but who hasn’t really changed underneath the surface.
Every worthwhile journey has danger along its path. The only way to ensure that you don’t end up stuck, is to make a hundred percent commitment to your growth, so that you keep trying even when you’ve screwed up.