Can Too Much *Self-Help* Be Counterproductive?

Working to become the best version of yourself is an amazing thing, + we are so lucky to live in a world where there’s a variety of resources for self-help. From books, to podcasts + social media, there’s so much info out there to gain knowledge on tips + tricks to change our thinking patterns + habits. This *self-help* world aims to provide people with the ability to become the best version of ourselves, but self-help can often become contradictory + overwhelming — throwing us off the very path it is supposed to guide us on. Before you dive into the self-help world, we want to share with you what you need to know to make sure it is indeed helping you, rather than hurting you.

#1] Be aware of contradicting messages

Picture this — your favorite self-help guru has a strong opinion on a type of diet, lifestyle, or fitness trend. They back up their thoughts with facts + research that all seem fool-proof + totally legit. But the next day, your go-to podcast has a completely different opinion. Both seem right, so how do you know what to believe?

Do your own research! Find information from individuals who are certified or have degrees in the specific field they are advising in. If the facts seem too good to be true, chances are, they are! Do your digging + look for research studies, just like you would for a school project

#2] Self-help can become addicting

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all of the fascinating advice + words of wisdom self-help authors are sharing, making it hard to stop yourself from wanting to tackle all of it. This constant flow of advice can lead to a cycle of feeling like what you are doing isn’t good enough, with you constantly thinking about everything you could do to improve your life. Be mindful that just like anything else, perfection is impossible + that is okay!

Self-help can often lead to striving for a perfection that does not exist + this can drive you crazy! It is exhausting to be constantly on the search for the “right” answer. Our imperfections are what make us who we are.  

#3] Try not to overload yourself with goals + changes

When taking self-help advice, choose just a select few to tackle at one time. To start, try picking one piece of advice a month + making it your monthly intention. Want to try advice about positive thinking patterns? Write it down in a planner or journal + focus just on that for the month. If you try to accomplish too many self-help tips at a time, you will most likely feel overwhelmed + unsuccessful, which can be very disheartening.

#4] Turn to fiction

It is always great to have a little break from anything + self-help is no different. Try picking up a fiction book for a retreat from reality. Some of the CHAARG community’s favorites are —

  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story // Ned Vizzini
  • Saint Anything // Sarah Dessen
  • Big Little Lies // Lianne Moriarty
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo // Stieg Larsson
  • The Nightingale // Kristin Hannah

At the end of the day, remember that it is completely okay to not follow the advice — no matter how great it may seem. It is so tempting to want to make all the changes in our lives that we hear, but it’s impossible to achieve all of them. This quote from a self-help guru himself, Chris Marchie, says it all — “The only question you ever really need to ask yourself is, Am I happy? If the answer is yes, then you’ve done enough self-interrogating. The only time you need to step back + reflect is when you are unhappy. Don’t let personal fears or fabricated mental misconceptions get in the way of your happiness.”

We are all on our own journey to becoming the best versions of ourselves + self-help can be an amazing piece of the journey. There are so many amazing resources to learn great ways to improve our daily lives, but it is important to be aware + recognize if too much self-help is actually being harmful.

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