Self help books undoubtedly work for people who actually follow the wisdom within them and do the techniques and exercises as directed in the book. Therefore they are successful tools for people who actually follow the formula as it is intended.
The problem is that many people don’t actually do as they are directed in the book - they just skim through it and promise themselves that they will do the exercises later – sound familiar?
Are you one of the many who skims self help books, attains the knowledge, but doesn’t actually do anything with it?
Knowledge alone is not enough. I have worked with many weight-loss counsellors for various diet companies over the years, they certainly appear to know it all, yet are unable to put into practice what they preach.
Here lies the problem. If you were a self motivated individual then a self help book to lose weight would work because you would follow the formula. If you were a self motivated individual then perhaps you wouldn’t need a self help book because you would be doing it anyway?
How many people collect self help books, have a vast array of knowledge but are not walking the talk? If you are one of them, maybe you talk a good game but when it comes to taking action and making changes it is a different story.
If self help books were so effective then there wouldn’t be a need for the personal development training and therapy business that is huge and growing.
Be honest with yourself, are you a knowledge acquirer as opposed to someone who makes things happen and follows the wisdom and advice of the various self help books you may have read?
When I was first asked to write a weight loss self help book, I was reluctant to do it for all the above reasons. I had seen so many clients who had read the Paul McKenna book ‘I can make you thin’, they knew what to do, but just didn’t do it. I had assisted on his weight-loss seminars and had so many delegates come up to me and ask me to do the techniques on them. Even now, I get clients that tell me they have done the Paul McKenna programme but it didn’t work. When I enquire as to what they did, they tell me they read the book – that’s it! Their idea of doing the programme was only to read it not follow the programme as it was intended.
So what is the difference that makes the difference between the success and failure of a self help book?
I am convinced from my years of experience working one to one with clients and with delegates on my seminars that the difference that makes a difference is a catalyst. This is the point that a person gets to that pushes an individual towards action. The point of “enough is enough” of the old ways, the straw that breaks the camel’s back. This can happen naturally and spontaneously usually following a key life event. Alternatively, it can happen as a result of an accidental or deliberate intervention by a friend, boss, family member, coach or therapist. Usually this is when someone presses the emotional button that provokes a reaction that leads to action.
Once the catalyst pushes that emotional button to action then the self help book will work because you will actually follow it! The problem with self help books is that it is hard to build the catalyst into it. It is almost as though the wisdom of the knowledge needs to be activated for the book to work. Most self help books are written in a supportive coaching manner which is very nice and cuddly and fascinating intellectually but rarely pushes the emotional button to put the wisdom and knowledge into action.
So where does this all lead? Probably to the beginning in that self-help books rely on the self to help oneself which usually isn’t enough unless you are already very self-motivated in which case you probably don’t need them anyway. If you have a pile of them and nothing has really changed even though you have the knowledge, then maybe a catalyst is required to activate the wisdom into action.
So before you purchase any more books, think about what needs to change to motivate you to stop reading and take action!
By John Plester, Principal Tutor of the East Anglian Institute of Hypnotherapy and Clinical Hypnotherapist.