Challenges with Self Help and Self Development Literature
Let’s take a step back for a moment and look with a critical eye at some of the attitudes of the self-development and self-help movement.
There seems to be a general idea amongst self-help gurus that positivity and hope are the antidotes life’s most devastating issues. With global politics and economics beyond the control of the individual, we are invited to write our gratitude journals and look towards a brighter future.
Now, I’m not for one minute suggesting that techniques like gratitude journaling, positive thinking, reframing experience and mindfulness are of no value. Quite the contrary. What I am saying is that all the positivity and hope in the world will come to nothing if there is no attempt to take action.
Hope is best considered as an ointment which can ease the immediate pain but does not on its own move us to better, more useful solutions.
Likewise, positivity, is a useful attitude if it results in meaningful actions.
Living in hope and exuding positivity alone will not change your situation.
When you read self-help literature, and I include my own in this, you will often be presented with inspiring ideas, quotes and stories. The reason the authors of such articles use them is that they are designed to inspire reflection and action.
They are frequently read and taken, however, as messages of positivity and hope.
I remember speaking to some people who purchased and contacted me about my book, The Secret to Your Future History.
All praised the content.
When I asked them what they were now doing differently after reading the “Seven Keys” in the book, the majority fell silent.
It transpired that whilst many of those I spoke to had bookshelves filled with similar books, they had not translated ideas into action. Indeed, many had not really read the texts they had invested in. It was as if they expected the collected wisdom of these writings to filter into their lives through some kind of weird osmosis.
It’s like buying a book on quantum physics and expecting to understand the concepts by looking at the cover. Oh, wait, they are some writers who seem to have done just that.
But I digress.
You can read and be inspired by many many writers. But, if you fail to reflect on what you read and take some kind of personal action, that inspiration is just words. Many self-development and self-help authors do offer practical suggestions, things you can do to help move you forward, it’s up to you to choose a course of action which meets your circumstances.
From all the self-development or self-help books you own choose one.
Reflect on the core ideas in that book.
Define a specific set of actions you can take NOW which will move you forward in your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Review the actions you have taken.
They may always be resistance to change, so stick with it and give any new habit/routine a chance.
In all, be as clear as you can about what you are hoping to achieve; how you want your life to be different.