Self-help books don’t work for most of the population. Why? Because a lot of these books are using common sense approaches that you and I could have, and probably did, come up with on our own. I remember reading He’s Just Not That Into You and feeling rather stupid after finishing it, thinking “Well, there we have it. If he doesn’t call you, he truly isn’t into you (which is what my gut already knew), and not in the hospital after some horrid accident (which is what I wanted to believe, because rejection just sucks).” Most of the time when reading a self-help book, I would think to myself that I (or anyone else for that matter) could have written the same thing. The problem is, common sense just doesn’t work for the vast majority of the population! If that were the case, they’d already have the friendships, jobs, relationships, bodies and lives they’re trying to get from said book.
The current popular self-help book is He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing) by relationship expert Andrea Syrtash. First of all, there are sure as hell a lot of “experts” out there these days! It seems to be the easiest title to obtain, and requires absolutely no degree or certification at all. Here’s another expert with another book, and I have to say – Really? We didn’t know that being too picky and having unrealistic expectations won’t lead us to our soulmates? We didn’t know that limiting our “types” to less than 1% of the population will keep us single? Wow, who would have thought!?
The problem with these books is that they don’t work for the average Joe Schmoe. A person who keeps finding themselves on the same bad, self-deprecating, self-destructive path over and over will need a lot more than a book. No book in the world will help them get it, because they are lacking the tools and self-awareness to recognize their patterns, and realize that their suffering and misery is a mere result of their own hard-wiring, created by years and years of the same thoughts and actions. So telling them the obvious, no matter how well one sugar coats it, won’t do a damn thing. It will usually push them into an even more defensive stance on “why it isn’t their fault that there is no one out there who meets their standards and that settling is not an option.” Come on!
These books usually have the same effect that a diet book has on an obese person or cancer statistics have on a smoker: None.
We all know, to some degree, why and where we are failing in our own lives, but that doesn’t mean we are willing to change. Even the true experts, i.e. doctors, licensed therapists, etc., will have no effect on a person who isn’t willing to change. Even the most inspiring book cannot change the neural pathways and hard-wiring of an individual: that can only be achieved by actual work on oneself. And so I must sadly say that a book which tells people to date outside their comfort zone gets a “Fail” stamp from me.
What do you think? Can people change their behaviors by reading self-help books?