The Self-Help You Just Read Was Garbage
If the self-help book you just read made you:
- feel capable of taking on the entire world
- feel very good about yourself
- feel super-duper optimistic
- feel like things are really simple
it was probably garbage. Why?
Because it told you what you wanted to read
Whenever you read something you already partially believe, you feel good about it. Turns out you were right all along, and all will be fine.
But then a month passes and you find yourself reading another vapid self-help book that just sounds like the first one with different words and a different cover.
You risk becoming a self-help addict because the dopamine kick you get out of reading shallow self-help is larger than anything else you’re doing.
If the book you read made you feel good and able to do “anything” you set your mind to. It was a shit book.
What should good self-help feel like?
Whenever someone needs help, it’s usually a matter of perspective. They need to see things in a new perspective. When that perspective is too similar to the one already held, the help isn’t very deep or just not there at all. It’s superficial and will just lead to reading many more superficial “self-help” books and feeling superficially good about every single one of them. Sometimes you need a radical change in your perspective, and this can be a hard hit.
The thought of losing the previously held perspective is something we don’t do easily as humans. We tend to cling to our identities and everything that is a part of them. So, a potent self-help book that makes you question your entire worldview and the potential loss of some deeply held beliefs will usually follow the 5 stages of grief:
It’s easy to just stop here. Deny the new perspective instead of questioning your current one(s). It’s easy to do. Just ignore the dragon.
If you’re a naturally angry person, staying stuck here might feel like step number 5, acceptance. But it isn’t. Don’t be fooled. Allow yourself to keep pondering the new information. It’s natural to be angry. A big part of your worldview just changed.
Try to negotiate the new perspective, perhaps some things can be removed and others added. Maybe if you do X, then Y isn’t true.
Reality hits hard. Perhaps you can’t take it and should just end it now. Why continue?
This doesn’t mean you’re now happy or back to where you were(why would you want to be back there anyway?).
It doesn’t mean you’ve moved past the loss of your previous worldview. It does, however, mean that you’ve accepted things for how they are and have come to understand how it changes your life. In this stage you will feel different.
After stage 5:
If the book you read changed your worldview, and after stage 5 it made you determined to accomplish small and relatively easily achievable goals, with measurable and cumulative results, it was probably a good book.
When should I feel good?
Have you thought that perhaps “feeling good” is a bad goal? You can’t expect to keep chasing high after high. Life has its ups and downs.
Learn to enjoy all the emotions in the wide spectrum we’re capable of, they all have their use.
You should feel contentment when the thing you were trying to accomplish is accomplished, and then move onto something else. But the important part is to be content with the chase of the goal, and not just the goal itself.
A good, perspective-changing book shouldn’t make you feel good. It should, perhaps, make you question reality as you know it, and make you less certain of some deeply held inflexible beliefs.
Everything is incredibly complicated, one single perspective can’t take you far, and just leads you towards ideological thinking.
It’s very hard to be completely wrong, even lunatic fringe-theorists are right in some things, but it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be completely right.
Collect wildly different perspectives and points of view, and then use them as mental tools to observe the world. If you’re too sure about a lot of things, it’s a sign you’re missing other perspectives.