The self-help industry is certainly a valuable one, and it has its place in everybody’s life. But, like with anything in life, we can get stuck in the phase of learning and preparing, and become afraid of the phase of doing and taking action. All of the world wisdom and life lessons out there won’t do you any good if you don’t do anything with your life. If you find yourself panicked when you’re nearing the end of a self-help book, already looking up the next five you can read to keep yourself busy, there is a good chance you’ve grown too comfortable being a student of self-help and are afraid to graduate. You should use self-help products to give you a little boost after a breakup or a devastating experience, but you shouldn’t rely on them as your life source. Here are signs you’re addicted to self-help.
You spend your savings on seminars
You’ve spent your savings on self-help seminars, retreats, and lectures. With the money you’ve spent on self-help seminars, designed to give you the tools to start your business, you could have just started your business.
You read more than you do
You say no to actual experiences in favor of reading. Reading is valuable, but experiences are invaluable. You shouldn’t be passing up learning by doing, in order to stay home and learn by reading. Books should be there to fill in down time—not all your time.
You’re all talk and no action
When you get together with friends, you talk for hours about all of the lessons you’ve learned and how you plan on implementing them in life. But you don’t do those things. If you were doing them, then that’s what you’d be talking about with your friends—how your actions were going, and not the plans to do them.
You talk at people
Dinner with you turns into a lecture by you, on how everybody could be leading their best lives. Your friends have started to cut you off and change the subject because they know where this is going.
You think other genres are stupid
You think action movies are silly and comedies are a waste of time and love stories are unrealistic. If it’s not a self-help book, movie or podcast, you’re not interested. Have you ever heard of just being entertained?
You’ve accidentally joined cults
Oops. Well, there is a fine line between the self-help community and the cult community. One day you’re making promises to say your mantras in the morning and the next you’re making promises to pay the leader $5,000 a month for his wisdom and cut certain family out of your life.
You’ve been in pyramid schemes
A lot of self-help companies are actually pyramid schemes. They offer you a retreat at a discounted price, so long as you can get five other friends to go on the retreat. Before you know it, you either owe the company the full $10,000 for the retreat or you need to harass your friends.
You give unsolicited advice
If someone so much as hints that they’re dissatisfied with something in their life, you launch into a life plan you have all thought out for them. Sometimes people just want to vent, you know?
You’re a people perfectionist
You’re very critical of people who are the tiniest bit negative or down on themselves, or, quite frankly, aren’t also spewing self-help wisdom all of the time. You’ve gotten lost in your books, where you are taught that if people try really hard, they can be perfect and shouldn’t have any problems.
You ignore negative thoughts
If there is one thing all self-help books have in common it’s the theory that your thoughts control your life. For this reason, you might completely ignore negative thoughts. But therapists (you know, trained professionals—not like most self-help authors) call that suppression and it’s very bad for you.
You’re all silver linings, all the time
You can find the silver lining in everything. You are incapable of saying that a situation is just crappy. It’s driving your friends nuts. Your friend is getting a divorce and it’s crappy, okay?
You want to write a self-help book
Mmmhmmm. Most self-help addicts often find themselves here just as recovering alcoholics run AA meetings and shopaholics become designers or clothing store owners.
You have no tangible plans
You have all of the mantras and positive thinking in the world but you don’t know how to write a proposal, you don’t know where you’d apply for a grant, and you don’t even really know what sort of business you want to start.
Self-help hasn’t helped you make money
You’ve spent far more money on self-help than self-help has helped you make. That’s a sure sign of addiction.
You have a new obsession each month
Your friends and family cannot keep up with you because every month you are obsessed with and living by a new set of rules. One month you’re a vegan, the next month you dedicate three hours to meditation each day, and the next month you’re not allowed to use negative words.
Your friends are tuning out
Your friends’ eyes have started to glaze over when you talk. They feel like they aren’t having a conversation with their friend anymore, and they definitely don’t feel like you’re listening to them.
Ads are targeting you
Ads for self-help books are finding their way into your mailbox, your email, your Facebook ads, your targeted text message ads and your Pandora commercials. The self-help world has found out that you’re an easy target.
You’ve joined a hundred gyms
You buy into the ideals and values and “lifestyle” of each gym. At the end of the day, it’s a set of treadmills and some dumb bells. And you have to pay cancellation fees at all of them.
You need your books to navigate life
If a situation comes up in life, you cannot decide what to do until you’ve gone through your books to see what your self-help guru has to say on the matter. You cannot answer a simple question about your career or love life without referencing the books.
You’re out of touch with your intuition
You don’t know how you feel about anything anymore—you only know how you’re supposed to feel based on the self-help books.