How to Avoid the Failure of Self-Help Books!
Most self-help books fail. Will mine? There are thousands of self-help books sitting on the shelves of millions of readers. Their impact varies widely. Over the years, only some make a positive difference in people’s lives.
How do they fail to make lives better? This is the hardest question to ask, but it is the right hard question.
Our survival mechanisms resist change. The survival mechanism has created a world it knows how to survive. The movie and script it creates become a context of behaviors, beliefs, and even our core identity. A woman who was abused as a child will filter for men with a temper. A man who survived a critical mother will find a critical mate. How does the survival mechanism know it is doing its job? We are still breathing. That is the total criteria. The survival mechanism is so powerful, that it will seek repeated experiences that the survival mechanism is good at handling.
How is that a problem with self-help books?
We can’t step into a new mindset from inside our current survival mindset. In order to step out of one mindset into a new context, our survival mechanism is very clever and will do whatever it takes to keep us in our survivable world, even if that old context no longer serves us. We all have experienced dropping back into old unwanted patterns of behavior.
Habits, identity, and beliefs are embedded in neurological connections. Imagine a simple habit of reaching for something on a shelf where it has been for years. Then you reorganize the shelf. How many times do you reach for the old location?
Now imagine that resistance to change one thousand times greater.
Self-help books can describe a new context of beliefs and behaviors that we should adopt. This new mindset will serve us better, but our survival mechanism isn’t buying it. It knows we can survive the current context, but not the new one. We eat the food and regret it later. We drink too much and know we shouldn’t. We yell at our spouse and create days of isolation. We spend money we don’t have for a momentary thrill. We procrastinate doing what will make our lives better. We long to be wealthy and despise those who are.
How can the next generation of self-help books contribute even more to our personal health and growth? What experience, exercises, simulations, and resources will it provide?
1. Invite the reader to imagine a new detailed context that serves us better.
When I ask a new client to describe a world that would serve them better, most are unable to do that. They go back to the pressing problems that they want to get rid of. I ask again, and again until they can visualize, hear and feel their new world as if it is real. Once we have this experience, we can then notice how the survival mechanism will fight the new context.
2. Create simulations that allow the reader to experience a new mindset that creates a new context that feels better at the moment.
Some of my clients break down into tears as they experience this new world that not only feels better but honors their values and gets them to their goals.
3. Provide a community that applauds our successes.
We are clan animals and our primitive survival mechanism acts on the premise that if we lose our clan we will die in the jungle alone. If creating a new context means that we are alone, most of us will prefer to suffer with the current experience. Imagine the power of stepping into a new community that celebrates our growth and expansion!
4. Allow those we love to stay behind in their own context.
Suffering along with others is one way to show our love. If we step out of their suffering worldview, we will acknowledge that they are suffering needlessly. Our current community will do everything to bring us back to the world that no longer works for us. This step is easier when we have a vital community that welcomes us.
5. Experience of feeling power, knowing we can thrive in a new context.
Can you survive in a new context? Many of us have delegated our survival to the external structures we have created. We have outsourced our responsibility for our experience to others. Thus, a new context, without those structures may feel like we are naked and vulnerable. As authors, we can give our readers the experience of their agency, responsibility, and power with group exercises and support.
6. Encourage our curiosity and delight with new discoveries.
Curiosity is a powerful word and concept. If you are curious, can you be angry, fearful, withdrawn, or in a state of flight or fight? Role models in our new community can show how their own curiosity hasn’t killed them but has opened new doors to thriving.
7. Allow ourselves to acknowledge the losses from the old and the cost of the new context.
One of my clients about to become very wealthy was eager to give it all away. As we listened to that part of him, he saw money as a burden that would end his more carefree life. Would we lose our community with success? Would our family disapprove? Having money means more accounting, taxes, risk of loss, or even the imagined risk of becoming uncaring. As we acknowledge the losses, we can honor the intention and mitigate the impact.
8. Know we are worthy of success.
This is a challenge for those of us (myself included) who at the beginning of our lives adopted the belief that we are unworthy. The shift from unworthiness to being worthy of success, wealth, and money can shift the foundations of our world. Self-help books can contribute to the intellectual groundwork. To accelerate our worthiness, we can create specific simulations. We can create live meetings for group support and a community that celebrates our right to stand tall on the earth. Most importantly, we can create the expectation that we will thrive as worthy human beings in a supportive community.
9. Experience new behaviors that are in rapport with our values, meaning, and goals.
Having the roots of our lives deeply embedded in a foundational meaning correlates with resilience and success. Without meaning, it is easy to slip into hopelessness and even depression. As therapists, writers, and leaders, our job is to connect new beliefs and behaviors to the reader and client’s own deeper value and meaning. Once the reader makes this connection, it releases resilience and energy that can overcome the obstacles that will show up as they move forward.
How many of these foundational criteria are supported in most self-help books? You can judge for yourself.
Will my self-help book, “A Private Conversation with Money” fail to make an impact? Will the readers be able to instantly step into a Money-Positive life?
The book creates a foundation to explore our world from a new context.
Here is how we created a new inviting context for financial growth:
1. Links to a community of supportive like-minded people
2. Exercises that invite readers to have successful bite-size experiences
3. Accountability to a group that is respected
4. Guided visualizations that create a future that tames the survival mechanism
5. An available rich context that includes a community with engaging exercises, intellectual frameworks, test solutions, live support, and celebration of progress.
The next generation of self-help books will end the isolation, failures, hopelessness that the lack of full support allows. The next generation of self-help books will be a gateway to a new context that serves us better, creates relationships, community, and the experience of the power of growth.
Learn more about how self-help books can support your dreams. “A Private Conversation with Money - Experience the 10 keys to financial freedom.” Get the book from Amazon. I have included access to a course with exercises as a companion to the book.