Self-Help Books Addiction: Why Fiction Books Are Self-Help Books

Self-Help Books Addiction: Why Fiction Books Are Self-Help Books

Since a couple of months, I've been reading a good deal of productivity and self-help books to improve my communication and relationship skills. Still, I feel like I'm not improving. What is the problem?

Cindy Yoseffa
Cindy Yoseffa
โ€ข 6 min read
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Here, I'll break down how come I combine self-help books and fiction books to deepen my understanding in self-knowledge communication skills and relationship skills.

๐Ÿ‰ How come I read more fantasy books?

Before I find how important fiction books for self-knowledge are, I was heavily and intensively reading the self-help books, collecting data and theories tips and facts about how to improve myself and communication skills also relationship skills. And it didn't really work for me. So, I stopped entirely reading the self-help of books and moved to another genre, "the fiction books".

I started with The Hobbit by Tolkien. I already watched the movie. Not only that, I love the movie so much, but I never really read the book. Till the day I posted this article, I'm still reading it, and it just made me realize about so many. Things, I didn't understand after reading so much self-help books. ย 

no admittance - accept on party business
Photo by Tobias Stonjeck / Unsplash

๐Ÿ’Š Why self-help books can be very addictive

The first problem that I now understand is that self-help books can really be a very addictive activity. I call it "the addiction of theory". One of the most difficult things to notice in reading such things.

So, what is addiction? Addiction is the repeated involvement with a substance or activity despite the substantial harm it now causes because that involvement was and may continue to be pleasurable and are valuable. This definition is from mentalhelp.net.

What kind of activity in this situation? In this situation is reading self-help books and learning numerous theories facts and tips about how to improve yourself.

What makes it pleasurable? It is, that it tricks our mind, as if that we were already done something, but actually, we're not. This is very dangerous because reading it, doesn't mean that you understand it, or really can practice it in real life.

What about the harms? The harms that we have in the situation:

  1. ๐Ÿ’ธ Money and โฑ Time.
    You probably will read more self-help books, after you read one self-help book. It boosts your motivation and puts a good feeling. Then you buy more books, and you use more time to read them. In this situation, you'll probably also lose more money, buying books, without really changing your situation around.
  2. ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’จ Running away from your responsibilities.
    You withdraw from your actual responsibility to read more, and you feel like this books promise you something. So, you just read it because if you don't read it till the end, you will not get the promise. The promise to be better and be active.
  3. ๐Ÿ˜‘ No Empathy.
    You don't really learn how to empathize with other human beings feelings of other situations of other people, while reading self-help books. This is essential because sometimes to understand yourself, you need to understand others and to understand others you need to understand yourself too. You need both, you can't just do one thing. You can learn better how to empathize with fiction books.

๐Ÿฆ„ The benefits of reading fantasy books

๐Ÿ–ผ Seeing a bigger picture in human relationships

In The Hobbit, I learned a lot about feelings, relationships, how to empathize with other people. These are things I missed a lot in self-help books. Because you try to improve yourself and always try to better yourself, you only see one side of a relationship: your world and reality. It's hard to understand a situation, if you only see it one-sided. In fantasy books, you'll learn about communication and relationships in dialogues and situational and condition.

๐Ÿง Learning the philosophy of life and human nature

There's also many philosophies in fiction books about why life works like that and why human nature sometimes works like that, and how human being reacts to a certain situation and deal with the bitter truth of life. That is probably what I need at that time to improve myself because it really opened my eyes that I need to accept that sometimes what I think pretty much about a situation where I cannot understand why someone might do that, probably there's a reason behind it. And it's not because humans are bad, but we are all living in our reality our worlds, and it's sometimes difficult to communicate and to really explain our world to others. To understand, both parties need to really understand the situation and themselves. They also need to experience the feeling of others in a deeper level.

๐Ÿ“š The pressure of reading faster and more books

What I also realize is in the productivity or self-help books club is, that there is this pressure to read more and read faster. I think reading more and reading faster doesn't really encourage the understanding. After so many years, I can now differentiate between knowing and understanding. These are not the same.

๐Ÿงฎ Knowing:
you heard about it, you can find it logic.

๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿป Understanding:
is deeper than knowing. You need to involve your feelings to understand. You can imagine your logic and your feelings are dancing together.

I found it unfortunate, that I probably read faster or read more books because I wanted to look better. When I met someone, I explained that I read four books last week. When people heard it, they are wooing me like this is so cool. But actually, it's not that cool because I only skimmed the book. I don't really understand it. I read them, I know something about them, I kind of remembering the difficult definitions, but I don't really understand it. It's a shame.

๐Ÿค“ My opinion about good self-help books

Please remember, and please don't understand me wrong. I doubt that self-help books are bad. Self-help books are fantastic in my opinion. All books that ever existed probably are also self-help books. The new problem in self-help books genre today is, it is specified to more heavy facts and also mostly from the reader standpoint. The understanding is only intrapersonal (about oneself) and not interpersonal (relating to others).

I really appreciate, if self-help books contained more stories inside: history, real life stories, fantasies. One self-help book, that I think put enough stories, is The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. It really helps to remember and understand what exactly was being said, instead of a bunch of cool name or cool definitions.

Photo by Jon Tyson / Unsplash

๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ Overcome self-help books addiction with fantasy books

I think you should combine self-help books and fiction books. Both genres help to explain each other. This is now how I managed to read self-help books and fiction books at the same time:

  1. ๐Ÿ“’ Self-help books = Dictionary
    I use self-help books mostly like dictionary. If I have a problem, I skim the books that I need and try to understand the theory and the scientific knowledge behind it.
  2. ๐Ÿข Reading slower
    I read books now slower, than I used to. I prefer not to contribute to the competition: who read faster or who read more books. My goal is to understand what I read.
  3. ๐Ÿ“ Journaling and โœ… Just Do-It!
    I write the things, I just newly understood with my words in my journal. If there are tips about how I can improve myself, I'll also write it as to-do-list for the day. Then I'll do it as soon as I can. After experiencing the tips, that I get from the self-help books, I will write what happened on my journal
  4. ๐Ÿ›Œ Read fantasy books before bed
    I read the fantasy books mostly before I'm going to bed, or whenever I need to chill, instead of seeing or watching Netflix.

To the one reaching this part of the page: I hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Would love to continue to chat about it and learn from your experiences, so donโ€™t hesitate to reach me!

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Mental HealthProductivityRelatonship

Cindy Yoseffa

Cindy is a medical student from Indonesia at LMU/TU in Munich, Germany. She also has a YouTube Channel and is hosting a Podcast: Parva et Magna.