Stop Reading Self-Help Books

Wordcast Media
3 min readSep 26, 2020

The keyword from the title is “stop” meaning you actually began at some point, to read self-help books and the very idea is for you to eventually put it down and start taking action.

This gist is the conclusion of this article but let me walk you through the various reasons why it’s critical to put these books back on the shelf.

Skim with a highlighting pen.

With years of reading self-help books including leadership and management, the ideas can be repetitively packaged in a different structure but in the end, it always speaks about “going for it” and “hustle” culture.

Hence, skimming through paragraphs and highlight the concepts that specifically matters to you and most of all, makes sense. Filter out the non-sensical pep talk.

The pep talk you read creates a temporary halo of euphoria that lasts merely in transitory. It will disappear and you’ll definitely see it coming, as the dose wears off.

Highlighting what matters empowers you to grab that book again only when necessary instead of enveloping hours devouring useless information. In addition, you’ll know exactly what to read and get back on track.

Write down what matters.

I see self-help books like a workshop, they should be designed to challenge and train your brain to develop and excel. Books that preach will put you into a dizzying cycle that will boost your confidence temporarily, that adrenaline will wear off and you’ll end up having withdrawal syndrome that will suck you into the book instead of self-managing.

Writing helps your brain to retain crucial information, this also helps in re-visiting key concepts that pertain to your needs. It is easier to grab your notes and point at the exact idea you need for the moment or crisis at hand.

Self-help books are fuel for your brain, you still need to drive it.

Self-help books are meant to be read, analyzed, and put into action when applicable. The key here is analyzing, instead of merely devouring.

Critical thinking is essential in order for you to rightfully determine what is logical versus grandstanding.

You can pump your brain and re-wire your mindset, sure but the roads you take often have stop signs, use this opportunity to reflect, and take a step back, to move forward.

Always move forward even when you move backward, and you can only do that if you put down that book and get to work.

Read books that teach the concept of self-awareness.

Self-awareness is the ability to reflect and see yourself clearly and objectively through introspection. Self-Awareness Theory is based on the idea that you are not your thoughts, but the entity observing your thoughts; you are the thinker, separate and apart from your thoughts (Duval & Wicklund, 1972).

A thorough and objective self-evaluation leads to self-awareness which in turn can assist someone to live a life that is capable of efficiency and effectiveness in solving problems and furthering the development of one’s self.

You should read biographies instead of self-help books.

When I read “Over the Edge of the World” by Laurence Bergreen, the story on how Ferdinand Magellan (acclaimed explorer) circumnavigated the world, the book focuses on his trials and tribulations from port to sail. Sure, it’s impossible to fully relate and incorporate this man’s struggles to modern-day as we are more so travelers than explorers at this point.

Reading biographies allows you to build empathy with the person and to practically envision the challenges and small triumphs towards greatness.

Most importantly, you can clearly read a real structure of life from a person rather than one-liners and theories.