Getting the Help You Need in the Vast Sea of Self Help

HELP. Seekers today can find it in more ways and through more channels than ever thanks to technology. Before we had 250 varieties of chicken soup for the soul, Oprah, Deepak and a host of other big name helping-hand brands at our fingertips, advice seekers looked for answers to from the Tao Te Ching, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and, of course, Grandma.

 

Seriously, self-help is as old as time and going as strong as ever. Today, it represents an $11 billion industry, with Amazon listing almost half a million choices in this popular category. According to some estimates, as many as one-half of the American adult population have bought at least one title on relationships or some other common social, health or work-related concern.

 

This is not to mention, the unlimited access we now have to blogs like yours truly’s, online magazine articles and daily tips in our inboxes.The question is no longer where, but how do you find the help you need in a sea so vast? Alas, some of us find we need help as we shop around for self-help resources and try to translate what we read into concrete, practical action.

 

Seriously, self-help is an ancient tradition that is going as strong as ever. Today, it represents an $11 billion industry, with Amazon listing almost half a million choices in this popular category.

 

According to some estimates, as many as one-half of the American adult population have bought at least one title on relationships or some other common social, health or work-related concern. This is not to mention, the unlimited access we now have to blogs like yours truly’s, online magazine articles and daily tips.

 

The question is no longer where, but how do you find the help you need in a sea so vast? Alas, many of us find we need help as we shop around for self-help resources and try to translate what we read into concrete, practical action.
 

What to Look For

 

  • Check the science. Look closely at the author's credentials and experience as well as the factual bases of the information and views presented. Does it make realistic claims? Do the reviews suggest that it's psychologically sound? Beware of outrageous claims. 

 

  • Follow your faith. You may have an instant affinity with writers who share your religious beliefs. What are leaders and other members of your congregation reading?

 

  • Know the target audience. Publishers often market to specific demographics. For example, the biggest buyers of self-help books are upper-income women on the East and West coasts. Ensure that the message seems pertinent to you.

 

  • Is it up to date.  Recent research may cast doubts on certain conclusions in books that used to be bestsellers. For example, many doctors and nutritionists now say that it's okay to eat eggs regularly even if you're watching your cholesterol.

 

 

How to Apply What You Read

  • Consider real life help. While you can find valuable information in books, some situations may call for extra assistance. Working with a coach or another helping professional such as counselor allows you to receive individual feedback and gain the support you need to carry out your plans, whether it is to improve your communication skills or eating habits.

 

  • Think critically. However popular a book is, you still need to evaluate whether it works for you. Beware of extravagant claims like, “Become a millionaire in 30 days!”

 

  • Take small steps.  Big changes often start with simple tasks. Look for tips that you can implement right away to build momentum and confidence.  Some critics joke that self-help books don't work because at least 80 percent of consumers buy more than one. Would you give up on a restaurant just because you wanted to eat again the next day? Remember change, like life itself, is a process.​

 

  • Be flexible.  We’re unique individuals. One size book or approach does not fit all. Look for approaches that encourage you to adapt your own style. Browse books and articles for information that speaks to you. Look for takeaways you can try out immediately.

 

  • Prepare for lapses. Sick children and leaky roofs can interfere with your plans. Does the author suggest what to do if you're looking to get back on track after a few delays?

 

  • Track your progress. How will you know if your reading is paying off? Some books have forms for setting and evaluating your goals, or you can design your own. Measuring your success creates motivation which translates into further action and even greater results. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

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