The Little Known Secret
to Self-Help Success

by Melissa Karnaze

self-help readingSelf-help is a multi-billion dollar industry for a reason.

People want to improve their lives, health, and relationships, and they’re paying good money to make it happen.

But no matter how much self-help funding you have, you won’t find success unless you realize what self-help really is.

What is self-help?

Self-help is help that stems from the self. Rather than help provided by another, like a mental health professional.

So instead of paying for a professional to give you the answers you need to improve you life, health, and relationships, you actively seek those answers by buying books, subscribing to blogs, listening to audio tapes, taking the red pill, attending lectures, participating in workshops, and so on.

So you don’t listen to a professional persuade you on how to get better or improve your life in some way (though you closely consider the advice of self-help books).

Why does self-help work?

Self-help works because it’s much easier to persuade yourself than have a professional (or even just another person) persuade you.

Because no one can persuade you of something that you don’t already believe or are open to at some level.

You can sit in therapy for years, being told to leave an unhealthy relationship — but you won’t move an inch until you see for yourself how exactly the relationship is draining the life out of you.

Self-help has an edge on professional help because you don’t waste time listening to things that you are going to be in denial about anyway.

When your therapist tells (or strongly suggests for) you to leave a relationship, you won’t do so until you are ready.

Chances are that when you pick up that book about how to end a relationship — you’ve already made the choice to end it.

Self-help is self-persuasion

“Ultimately, nobody can get more out of things, including books, than he already knows. For what one lacks access to from experience one will have no ear.”

Self-help success is all about persuading yourself to make positive changes to your life.

The secret to doing that is being transparent about your relationship with yourself. Because after all, one part of you is trying to persuade the other parts of you to do something differently.

Self-persuasion only works when you work with your emotions

Persuasion is hard to pull off when it comes to messy areas in life like relationships and happiness.

And that’s because as much as you can come up with all sorts of “logical” reasons to change your behavior — your emotional self (Inner Child & Ego/ Subconscious) run much of the show from behind the scenes.

And it takes a lot to persuade your emotional self to:

No amount of bullet-pointed conscious reasoning can remedy what are at core — emotional problems.

So in order to master the secret to self-help success — skillful self-persuasion — you need to be mindful of all of your emotions. Because if you don’t work with them, they’ll get in the way.

And you can read book after book after book after book — but just like in therapy — it won’t mean a thing if the message isn’t getting through to you.

So clear out those emotions so the messages do get through.

And choose healthy messages that promote mindful constructs and response ability.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cihan April 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Pretty enlightening Melissa, I’d like to read more about the distinctions between self-help media and professional therapists. I suppose one thing that self-help media lacks is the ‘human/personal touch’ that you get with a therapist. But even that aspect itself could be a double-edged sword for some, because at least with a self help book the whole thing can feel less confrontational for the reader.

The help provided is just simple black words on white paper, but a human being is all sorts of things, the delivery of their words, the dynamics between you and a therapist, they’re always in flux. Maybe you’ll accept one thing they say and not another, depending on a variety of exterior factors.

Regardless, I think all your points are valid. Especially the idea that you can already have made your mind up about something while in the process of seeking help on how to deal with it, or in this case, ‘purchasing’ help.

Melissa Karnaze April 1, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Cool, I’ll write more about this in the future. Drop another comment if you have any specific questions. :)

I’ve read some self-help books that are very warm and personable because the authors revealed their Souls. And then there are therapists that don’t do much but sit there and listen. It does go both ways. And yes it’s really easy to maintain blind spots while reading — that a professional could easily spot and call out.

I think the variety of exterior factors is tremendous, impacting the therapeutic exchange in subtle, subtle ways. Not to mention several of the assumptions about therapy and how it should go, that both clients and therapists may have.

E West April 13, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I really love your point here, especially the quote about how you’ll never get more out of something than what you already know. I had not thought of that before.

On one hand, you’ll never be more motivated to learn something than when you have a personal interest. On the other, I think many (or most) people lack follow-through. Motivation is incredibly tough. That’s why the diet-industry is so big, right? :)

I hope you post a follow-up article about the relationship between Self-Persuasion and Self-Perseverance. Not to hard to start something, but to continue? Especially when it is only yourself? Maybe that is why many people hire those professionals in the first place.

Melissa Karnaze April 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Yep, the diet industry is a boom because we’re really not all that healthy (and fit). The self-help industry is a boom because we really don’t feel like we “have control” over our lives.

If people actually followed through with the help-self they consume, it wouldn’t be such a huge repeat business. Or it would at least move in new directions, essentially growing upon itself.

But what do we get? A lot of the same old (dysfunctional) stuff being repeated, repackaged, and re-branded.

I hope you post a follow-up article about the relationship between Self-Persuasion and Self-Perseverance.

Sounds great, will definitely follow-up on this. I can tell you right now, it has a lot to do with the Ego. :)

Thanks for the comment and the request E West!

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