How to Apply What You Read in Self-Help Books

Self-help is an ancient tradition that is still going strong! Long before there were 5,000 varieties of chicken soup for the soul, advice-seekers were looking for answers in the Tao Te Ching or the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Today, self-help is an $11 billion industry, with Amazon listing almost half a million choices in this popular category.

According to some estimates, up to one-half of American adults have bought at least one title on weight loss, relationships, or other common concerns. But how do you find what you need with a selection so vast?

Shelf-help or Self-help?

I always laugh when I hear the phrase “shelf-help” because though proponents of this phrase are making fun of the industry, I can’t NOT (double negs anyone? ūüôā ) say they’re right in where¬†self-help books end up – collecting dust sitting on someone’s shelf.

Not good!

Just because you buy a book on how to fix your marriage and skim a few chapters doesn’t mean you’re gonna end up with a happyful, fully engaged marriage.

There’s waaaaay more work involved and you know it! LOL

Shopping for self-help?

When you are shopping around for self-help books and materials, you gotta translate what you read into concrete action, right? Start here to know what to look for.

  1. Check the specs. Remember that you’re investing your hopes as well as the cover price of the book. Does it make realistic claims? Do the reviews suggest that it’s psychologically sound? Look closely at the author’s credentials and experience.
  2. Know the target audience. Publishers often market to specific demographics. Ensure that the message seems pertinent to you.
  3. Browse multiple categories. All kinds of books are taking a self-help angle. You may find the information you’re looking for in memoirs and fiction as well as psychology and business.
  4. Stay up to date. Recent research may cast doubts on certain conclusions in books that used to be bestsellers.

How to Apply What You Read

  1. Consider counseling or therapy. While you can find valuable information in books, some situations may call for extra assistance. Talking with a therapist allows you to receive individual feedback and access medical care if necessary.
  2. Think critically. However helpful a book is, you still need to evaluate whether it works for you.
  3. Take small steps. Big changes often start with simple tasks. Look for tips that you can implement right away to build momentum and confidence.
  4. Be flexible. You’re one of a kind. Check that a book encourages you to adapt the program to your own style. You might like to read a work cover to cover or you might browse chapters for takeaways you can try out immediately.
  5. Track your progress. How will you know if what you’re¬†reading is paying off? Some books have forms for setting and evaluating your goals or you can design your own. Measuring your success creates great motivation.

Talk to me…

Self-help books can be a great asset and teach you many things like how to talk with your teenager, manage your diabetes, or enjoy more peace of mind. But remember these tips in shopping for the right books for you and how to apply what you read to work effectively in your daily life.

What do you think of the phrase “shelf-help?”


Wassuper, it’s yo girl, Kesha and I believe we should Be the Fruit Loop in a world full of Cheerios because life is more interesting when you dare to be different and challenge what’s “normal!” I am wildly passionate about helping highly driven women pursue fantabulous relationships, juicytastic careers/bizzes, and authentically inspired lives. Let’s rethink, redo, and reinvent YOU so you can live life YOUR way!
How to Apply What You Read in Self-Help Books
  • Thanks Kesha, this helped out a lot.

    • Anytime! Glad it helped and let me know if there’s anything else you might need!


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