It is responsible and wise to seek improvement. Perhaps, you want the best for your family. You may even desire to earn and climb higher on the social ladder. Maybe, you want to increase your productivity or improve your relationships.
There is nothing wrong with staying driven and motivated to succeed. However, we see how people become misdirected and miserable as they pursue their goals. They fall into self-pity while comparing themselves to others. As they fall into this toxic cycle, they absorb the terrible advice that worsens their situation.
The multi-billion dollar self-help industry offers valuable solutions to modern-day issues. Its thousands of books, programs, shows, and seminars discuss how people can improve their personality, careers, families, health, and mental health. Moreover, legitimate, research-based self-help content can teach you how to fight procrastination, maximize your job, and deal with toxic people. Millions of people join self-help groups to reinforce their self-improvement and meet like-minded people.
However, like every successful enterprise, the self-help industry has a corrupt side. Other self-help books and programs prey on their consumers’ vulnerability. These people get caught in a rat race for happiness and peace by overwhelming them with unrealistic standards. Personal growth becomes a cover for mental bondage and addiction.
More Reading: Practical Methods To Ensure Success (That Actually Work)
- 1 Self-Help Addiction Is Real
- 2 How Can Self-Help Become Addictive?
- 3 How Can I Know If I Am Addicted To Self-Help?
- 3.1 Do You Exhibit The General Symptoms Of Addiction?
- 3.2 Do You Spend So Much Time On Them?
- 3.3 Do You Give Up Your Relationships For Self-Improvement’s Sake?
- 3.4 Are Your Goals Even Realistic?
- 3.5 Are You Encouraged To Decide Impulsively?
- 3.6 Does Self-Improvement Hamper Other Aspects Of Your Life?
- 3.7 Do You Feel So Much Guilt And Shame?
- 3.8 Do You Prefer Self-Help Advice Over Medical Treatments?
- 4 How Can I Stop Self-Help Addiction?
Self-Help Addiction Is Real
We want first to emphasize what we said earlier: the self-help industry has beneficial volumes. Self-help content rooted in the scientific literature has helped millions of people with depression, low self-esteem, and addiction.
Unfortunately, inaccurate and predatory self-help books bring depression, low self-esteem, and addiction. They tap on our natural urge for improvement. By drilling into our minds that we will never be enough, others forget to find gratitude and joy in simple things. Dependent readers dive deeper into the self-help rabbit hole instead of taking action on their problems. Worse, they even purchase pseudoscientific accessories and supplements to help their desire for “personal growth.” Ultimately, these placebo solutions ruin these people’s relationships, careers, and mindsets.
How Can Self-Help Become Addictive?
Although psychologists give different addiction symptoms, there are proven ways that self-help and self-improvement can become addictive. Here is how:
- Self-help makes you rely on goals and labor to stay happy and motivated. Since life is uncertain and our needs evolve, you may not meet your plans exactly. Because of this, you may never feel delighted and contented.
- Many self-help teachings are not based on research and scientific findings. Instead, they rely on dubious testimonials, anecdotal proof, adherence, and peer pressure.
- Misleading self-help books provide placebo solutions without inherent value. Nonetheless, since their consumers feel happy and peaceful taking them, they get distracted from the root causes of their problems.
- Most self-help authors employ marketing strategies to promote their books and teachings.
How Can I Know If I Am Addicted To Self-Help?
Are you hooked on self-help materials and activities? These are the signs you must look out for to know if they become unhealthy for you:
Do You Exhibit The General Symptoms Of Addiction?
“Self-help addiction” is not a category listed in psychologists’ manuals. However, people with this condition exhibit the signs of addiction:
- Drastic and unhealthy alterations in mood, diet, and sleep
- Inclination to risky behavior
- Compulsive spending behavior
- Inability to control themselves
- Loss of interest in their past hobbies
- Seclusion and hidden behaviors
If you or someone you know start showing similar symptoms, consult a mental health professional. Obsession and excessive habits can harm you, including positive things like research-based and practical self-help techniques. For example, diet plans can lead to eating disorders if exaggerated.
Do You Spend So Much Time On Them?
How many hours do you read self-help books and think about your goals? Do you constantly inspect your nutrition, emotions, and completed tasks? These are highly productive tasks that can bring you closer to success. However, excessively focusing on your productivity and daily expectations can make you feel dreadful.
To make self-help healthy for you, ensure that you, not someone else, are in control of your life. Do you surrender your hobbies and obligations to meet a quota on hard work? See if the hours you spend on self-improvement consume much of your life. After all, good things can become harmful without moderation and self-control. Instead, devote a healthy amount of time to self-improvement.
Do You Give Up Your Relationships For Self-Improvement’s Sake?
Do you start to sacrifice your family bonding time to meet your self-help goals? Do you still overthink your deadlines and self-improvement chores when with your friends? Do you feel guilty when you are resting from work? Are you inclined to postpone your relationships before you achieve your targets?
Sadly, many would proudly say yes, as if they are oriented towards health and prosperity. Sure, these people may have more hours raking money and material possessions. But they let go of what truly lasts and matters—their relationships with those who love and care for them.
If your self-help attitude emphasizes work and productivity, this mentality might swallow other aspects of your life. Do not ignore your parents, partner, children, or friends for financial gain. Even if you do all this, think about how much they need you—your presence, attention, and time in their lives. You can always earn money back but cannot retrieve the time and opportunities to bond with them once it is too late.
Are Your Goals Even Realistic?
As stated earlier, self-help books highlight goals. Some examples are a fit body, financial independence, popularity, and a happy family. But ask yourself, do you have standards showing you are on your way to achieving these objectives?
Many self-help books provide “steps” and “plans” toward their desired outcome. Some are even too good to be true. Their covers may even scream that you can earn millions in a year or instantly have an athletic body! However, these attractive promises usually lack any realistic metric or milestone standard. Without focus, readers will find themselves aimlessly striving for an unfeasible goal. They start to neglect other areas of their lives without knowing if such sacrifice is necessary.
If you have unrealistic life pursuits, do the SMART goal system. This time-tested approach used by successful companies and entrepreneurs ensures that your objectives have direction. Here is how you can make your plans smart:
- Enumerate the specific actions to realize your goals.
- Provide measurable requirements that will help you assess your progress.
- Make your goal achievable based on your available time and resources.
- Keep your objectives relevant to your expertise and lifestyle.
- Make your plans time-bound; set deadlines and timeframes.
As you read self-help books, check if their advice falls within the SMART framework. Doing so will help you know if the author wants to bait you with imaginary solutions that bring you nowhere.
Are You Encouraged To Decide Impulsively?
The road to self-improvement seems thrilling. After all, many self-help pieces of advice seem to be within your grasp. Self-help content claim that they have the solution to your problems—you only have to access them to learn more! You only have to download their apps, join their sessions, read their books, or purchase accessories.
But be careful; monitor how much you spend on self-help materials and events. Remember that compulsive buying is a form of addiction. Only buy just enough material for your needs. Moreover, ensure that you purchase research-based self-help content from trustworthy sources.
Does Self-Improvement Hamper Other Aspects Of Your Life?
Stop for a while once your self-help practices ruin your studies, relationships, or career. To begin with, should they not support your improvement rather than hinder it? So carefully watch if your goals lead you to self-destruction.
Do You Feel So Much Guilt And Shame?
As discussed earlier, we have the drive to improve and progress. But it can become toxic once we constantly remind ourselves that we are not enough. Unfortunately, this is what many self-help materials drill into their consumers’ minds. Shame and disappointment become the fuel for “improvement,” but such “motivation” only leads to despair and self-loathing.
Do you feel this way towards yourself? Do you spend so much time chasing your goals because you want to escape your misery? If yes, we suggest you take a break and temporarily set aside your self-help routine. Such an attitude can ruin your mental peace and outlook on life.
Talk to someone, especially a counselor, about your inner struggles. Instead of focusing on what you do not have, look at the daily blessings you barely notice. Most importantly, look at the areas where you excel. By emphasizing your talents and gifts, you will have a healthy inspiration for your goals and improvement.
Do You Prefer Self-Help Advice Over Medical Treatments?
Choosing self-help authors over doctors is dangerous, especially when you are under treatment. Even if the self-book you follow is based on medical research, your doctor knows what is best for you based on your unique medical history and condition. Never substitute a doctor’s prescription with self-help tactics.
Whenever you want to change your medications, consult your doctor. Remember that altering your medical regimen without expert advice can lead to withdrawal, harmful side effects, and worse conditions. Ask them about the self-help health strategies you have learned. Perhaps, if your doctor sees them as applicable and helpful, he may incorporate them into your treatment.
How Can I Stop Self-Help Addiction?
Self-help addiction can be dangerous, as it hijacks people’s weaknesses and self-perception. If you find yourself in this problem, here are harmless ways to help yourself:
Sometimes, we do not notice our harmful behaviors unless we distance and examine ourselves. So take the time to relax and look at the effects of your self-improvement techniques. Answer the questions listed above since they will guide you to knowing if you are at risk of self-help addiction. After all, even the most helpful practices can turn dangerous if done obsessively.
Reorient Your Perspective
Do you sacrifice your bonds and values for the sake of your goals? If you fixate so much on your destination, you forget the joys and graces during the journey. Look at the reasons to celebrate and stay thankful every day. Likewise, see how your self-improvement tasks affect your relationships. Doing so will keep you from neglecting your priorities.
We all have flaws and shortcomings—it is a part of being human. But do not identify yourself with your problems. Instead, accept them. You have inherent value, no matter what your weaknesses may be. Strive to learn from them, and appreciate your growth.
It is wrong to think that self-acceptance means stagnation. Instead, it only means knowing your capabilities and where you need to improve. Imagine the serenity this mindset can give you! You do not have to grind yourself to find value in who you are. Gone is the voice in your head saying you are undeserving, unworthy, and unlikable!
Since you appreciate yourself, you will free yourself from insecurities and find satisfaction quicker. Ultimately, self-acceptance makes you more respectable, confident, and likable. Since you have mastered your personality and self-image, you can uplift others better and strive toward higher possibilities. You can enjoy each day while remaining conscious of what you want.
Consult A Mental Health Professional
Let us clarify: talking to a therapist or counselor does not mean you have a mental health disorder! These professionals can help you understand what you go through. Most importantly, they can guide you while you face anxieties, grief, and insecurities.
Many respected self-help books discuss psychological techniques and approaches. However, conversing face-to-face with mental health professionals is more effective than doing it alone. If you can afford such sessions, try talking to your support system—your friends, parents, or loved ones willing to listen.
As stated earlier, we should not forget to appreciate the good things in our lives. There are many ways to foster our gratitude and thankfulness:
- Meditate on optimistic thoughts after waking up.
- Relax and walk under the sun.
- Write in a journal about positive events every day.
- Exercise routinely.
More Like this: Why You Need To Say No More Often