Is self-help helpful?

Self-help books can never take the place of professional help, but it can assist in understanding yourself better

Gulf News

Whether you were a shopaholic or depressed, there is a shelf full of books for you in the bookstore if you are looking to rectify it. Every year, new self-improvement books hit the market offering those in need of a way out, a plan to get them to where they wish to be.

The bestselling self-help books are usually the ones that offer their readers steps to help them get over their loved ones or ways to find their happiness. Taking a step forward and buying a book offers the buyer an instant gratification. However, buying the book is the easiest part, no matter the cost. However, the challenge appears afterwards when the book is read and the reader is left with the struggle of changing his or her daily habits and implementing the advised steps.

Sonia Lupien and her colleagues explored the two categories in their study and found that readers with depressive symptoms might find “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold Kushner to be an interesting read.

Those consumers often choose ‘problem focused’ books. They preferred books that sell the idea that they are not responsible for their mistakes and fulfil their victimised mentality. Whereas, readers with anxiety symptoms, could find “Rising strong” by Brené Brown a perfect read to serve their needs. Those readers selected ‘growth-oriented’ books. Readers sensitive to stressful situations picked books that sell the idea of changing from within and full responsibility.

While, self-improvement books are one of the bestselling genres in the publishing industry, it makes you question the effectiveness of its message.

As a serial self-help reader, I can honestly state that most of the messages are recycled but published with a different spin. It takes serious research to find a self-help book that can, in fact, serve your needs.

It takes tremendous courage to admit that we actually need help. That’s why most of us feel more at ease by buying a self-help book anonymously as opposed to confiding in a psychologist.

Self-help can’t take the place of a professional help. However, it can assist in understanding yourself or by letting you know you are not alone.

— The reader is an Emirati writer based in Abu Dhabi

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