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Understanding and overcoming self-help addiction

Alex loves motivational and self-help books, podcasts, vlogs, blogs, courses, and programs. He became interested in self-help and personal development a long time ago and is now addicted to it.

He has signed up for many newsletters, never misses a seminar and has tried almost all the self-help products out there. However, when you look objectively at Alex’s life, his achievements aren't proportionate to the knowledge that he has devoured. He's living in a fool’s paradise.

If your story is similar to Alex's then read on to know what's going on...

Why self-help can be addictive

When you're feeling down you're engulfed in negativity and tend to suffer from a loss of hope. During such times you become attached to anything that restores hope and fills you with positivity. In other words, when you become negative you find ways to balance this negativity with something positive and when you feel down you look for something to lift you up.

There’s nothing wrong with all this but the problem happens when you become dependent on motivational and self-help sources to feel good temporarily without dealing with the issues that were actually bothering you in the first place. 

So whenever you feel down, instead of dealing with your issues and trying to solve them, you look for short-term mood fixes simply because they're an easier option to go for than facing and working through your problems. In this way, self-help addiction is similar to drug or alcohol addiction where a person runs to these things in order to escape from reality. (escapist behavior)

self help addiction cycle
The vicious cycle of self-help addiction on the right is what you should try to avoid.

By landing into the world of self-help, you create an alternate reality for yourself which is ideal and you get the taste of how good it'll feel to achieve all your dreams. It's a kind of mental masturbation. It fills you with a hope that things are going to change for the better and you get a temporary boost of motivation that fades away quickly as soon as you return to your own reality. 

Broken, beaten and scarred you run to self-help again to heal your wounds and replenish your lost sense of false hope. The net result is getting caught up in the negative cycle of deceiving yourself instead of doing the things that need to be done to reach your goals.

This doesn't mean that self-help is bad

Before you turn self-help into some kind of a cursed demon, I have to remind you that it has its merits. As is clear from the above graphic, you don't always get the results you want when you take action. Hence you're likely to end up losing motivation. During such times self-help can be very useful in topping up your motivation levels. Self-help has its use, but only in the right context.

Find a reliable source

Let's face it; Many self-help gurus out there have no understanding of human behavior and can be misleading. They keep on repeating superficial wisdom and generalizations without really digging below the surface.

Find a source or two that you can trust and stick to them. You may need to do a lot of searching first but it'll be worth it. When you get rid of all the trash, you’ll find that you are only gaining valuable information that you can’t help but apply. Otherwise, you'll just end up in a fool's paradise.


If you don’t act on what you learn you're likely to become a self-help addict. Self-help can be good for you but only if you learn from people who are knowledgeable and not from people who just want to feed on your ego by making you feel good about yourself with meaningless speech.

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