I have had a lot (and I mean, a lot!) of emails recently from people feeling completely lost and adrift in amongst all the self-help and spirituality books that we’re incredibly lucky to have access to these days. This genre of books was completely foreign to me until I moved to Australia three years ago. Since then, I find it hard to read anything but.
There are a few things however that have popped into my head recently regarding these books and most of them I really didn’t want to listen to. I knew, however, that these thoughts were there to teach me and I wanted to share them with you. Here are a few annoying things about self-help books and programs:
1) You have to do the work
I’m very happy to say that recently my Kindle broke. I absolutely love my Kindle, so why am I so happy?! Because I realised in reading paper versions of books that I’ve been collecting for years, that I was rushing through my e-books and not taking them in.
The honest truth is, you can read all the self-help, inspirational, motivational books you want to, but unless you do the work, it’s all a bit meaningless.
When I read books on my Kindle, I used to skip the end-of-chapter exercises about 95% of the time, using the excuse of not having a pen and paper to hand or a book to scribble in. I’m pretty sure that if I’d had a paper copy, for some reason, I probably would’ve taken my time with it and gotten more out of it.
It doesn’t work like this for everyone, but I’ll put my hand on my heart and say that I’ve skipped a lot of exercises. Instead of feeling like I’d been through a spiritual journey, which is what the author intended, I was just looking for the next book to read after I’d reached the final page. Reading them is better than not reading them, but taking them in and really learning from them is a skill.
2) Sometimes, it’s good to have a break
A few months ago, I realised that I needed to have a big break for reading spiritual books. Why? Probably for reasons discussed in point number 1, but also because a lot of the topics discussed in them can feel incredibly heavy if they catch you at the wrong moment. Reading a fiction book purely for fun and enjoyment almost made me feel guilty. It was almost as if my Kindle kept giving me evil eyes from my bedside table. I’m so open to reading about spirituality and I absolutely love it, but I can’t read everything at once. It’s a lifelong journey, and there’s nothing wrong with taking to slowly. You won’t miss anything- the words will still grace the page when you’re ready.
3) What works for other people might not work for you, and vice versa
Whenever I read about a book or have one of those ‘the book fell of the shelf ‘moment (woohoo!), I jump onto Amazon and scroll through the reviews. This is often a good thing, but I used to be very quick to write books off based on bad comments. I really, really shouldn’t have been though. What works for you might not work for me, and what worked for the author and their audience might not work for you.
That’s completely and utterly ok.
Don’t try to fit yourself into other people’s stories and boxes. Focus on where you are and if there’s anything you can gain from their story. Steer your own course and never for one second think that the author has it completely sorted and is living in perpetual bliss on a tropical island somewhere. We all have a shadow side and you’re only seeing one side of the whole of that person and their audience.
4) Don’t let self-help books make you feel broken
This is a big revelation that I’ve had recently.
Don’t let self-help and spiritual books make you feel like any less of a person or that there is something wrong with you. Wherever you are right now is absolutely perfect, and to be honest, where else are you going to be?! These books are incredible tools which enable us to heal, gain perspective and find our place in the world, but you should mould the books to you rather than the other way around. With the vast choice and range of books out there, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole- just when you’re trying to fix one problem, it turns out that the problem you thought you had is actually indicative of another problem. Pretty soon you’re reading so many books and you’re absolutely drowning in problems, which is now causing a bigger problem than the ones you came to self-help with!
The bottom line is: choose your own path and decide how these books fit your life, your goals and your wellbeing. Think independently and try to not get so swept up in everything. I’ve been there and I felt lost for a very long time.
It doesn’t have to be so serious- have fun with it! Life is a great journey of discovery and these books are just a small part of that. I really hope this article has helped you my darlings- let me know if you’ve been feeling the same in the comments below.
Love and free-thinking,