5 Reasons Why Self-Help Doesn’t Work And How to Fix Them


Some of my readers say “I have tried this tool and it does not work.” Based on the research, I will describe the five reasons why self-help does not work and how to fix it.

“No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better.” –  Jim Yong Kim

Self-help tools are like medication. If you use too many of them and the wrong ones, they will do you more harm than help. Before I achieved the current level of self-confidence and self-love, I had been trying many various tools and sometimes used to say “It does not work.”

However, after some time, I started to discover why these tools did not work. Therefore, before you resign from psychotherapy or counselling before you give up this year’s resolutions, please, read this post and find what you could do to eliminate the five most common and the most persistent reasons of why self-help does not work.

5 Reasons Why Self-Help Does Not Work

Firstly, I will present you the five top reasons why so many people resign from self-development and question the self-help techniques which work, but for these people. Most of them are based on fears and lack of both knowledge and motivation.

1.Fear of Success

By paradox, success is the thing of which most people are afraid. We are taught to be humble, to live for other people and success evokes jealousy or criticism. In some countries, success is even considered as a danger, as you might find someone who will dig underneath in order to steal your good streak.

Action Exercise

Define what success means for you. How do you perceive it? Do you feel guilty of being successful, thinking that you do not deserve it? If so, try this: for the next 90 days finish the sentence “I deserve…” 27 times. With the thing, which you consider as desirable.

2. Fear of Changes

Everyone is afraid of changes as we are driven to our comfort zone. Applying self-help tools requires taking responsibility and action. Sometimes you need to try something new, change some habits, do things in a different way that so far. All that causes discomfort. However, change is the only thing that is certain in our lives. Therefore, the quicker we accept it, the better

Action Exercise

Think why you are afraid of changes. What is the worst thing that could happen if you changed? Answer this question in writing and give at least three reasons. Moreover, when did you eventually make changes? It usually happened when you had to when you had got a kick in your four letters by an external force. Was it difficult to implement changes then?

3. Perfectionism

This trait id conditioned in the childhood. We want to please our parents to deserve their love. Then the teachers and our bosses reinforce this bad life attitude. You know that perfectionism never helps in the long run. You lose opportunities which other people take because they focus on growth rather than perfection.

Action Exercise

Start self-love and compassion. Practising them, you will notice your humanity and greatness. Try this affirmation: “I love and approve of myself. I am a human being making a constant progress, learning my lessons.” Repeat it aloud twice a day at least nine times for 90 days.

4. Negative friends

Most of the people who surround you are negative. Things are worse when you ae around them most of your time and when they are very close, like your spouse, children or parents. Just because of being jealous, because of the fear of losing you, they may say that self-help tools do not work. Or you, seeing their behaviour, notice that self-improvement is not worth the trouble

Action Exercise

Look at each of the five people with which you spend most of your time. What have they achieved in the field of self-development? Are they experts in the field they criticise? If not, try to limit your exposure to them and set strict boundaries.

5. Lack of Motivation

We all have ups and downs. It is normal that some tools need time and patience to start working, like medications; some of them work efficiently after six weeks. Self-help is about creating new habits which are not developed within one day. You need to reprogram your neuro associations. Lack of motivation may also be the result of setting too difficult goals or staying around disempowering people

Action Exercise

Think of your motivation. What is the reason which causes that you get up and go?Is it the carrot or the stick? Look at your goals for 2017 and define the kind of motivation you have in each case.

How To Implement the Self-help Tools in a Smart Way

Now I will present you the six ways which will help you to apply the self-help techniques in the right way

1. Find a Coach/Mentor

You can be overwhelmed with the number of self-help tools available on the market. You have probably read many books, and each author proposes a different way of working on self-improvement. Having a personal mentor or coach will help you to focus on the most important aspects of your growth, and you will be using the tools which are really suitable for you. My coaching can help you to achieve this goal.

2. Take Small Steps

I know that it is very tempting to plan a fast work on your self-development. However, you will become demotivated and overwhelmed very quickly. You can overestimate the difficulty of your goals. What to do then? Work using the baby steps. Start with something small, like using affirmations and writing down your feelings. Later, you can work on your beliefs ande habits.

3. Monitor your Progress

This tip is crucial. You can have some excellent goals, but without regular measuring your progress, the results won’t come. When you monitor your progress, even small failures will not hurt so much as you know how many victories you have scored. Monitoring progress will give you an idea if your self-help goal is difficult enough – not too easy and not too overwhelming.

4. Find  Some Uplifting People

Self-development is easier when you are surrounded by the individuals who empower and uplift you. Only like-minded people will understand your aspirations and will keep their fingers crossed for your goals. Join some clubs and seek fora or Facebook groups online. You can also create a Master Mind group which is a great opportunity to motivate and support each other.

5. Start With One Thing at a Time

You might be overwhelmed with the things to change after doing some self-help quizes. Beliefs, negative thoughts, language, transforming your habits and managing emotions, each of these things is important in self-development. But as at school, you don’t learn physics or chemistry in the first year. You start from drawing and necessary calculations. Therefore, choose something that is easy to practise and will give you remarkable results. Affirmations, recording your thoughts or feelings and letting them go are the first subjects while transforming your life.

6 Find Your “Why.”

This is probably the most important rule in this post. You can know all the self-help techniques, and nothing will change until you start using them. But to apply the tools you need to be sure that they are worth your trouble. List all the reasons why you want to make an effort and change. Maybe you want to be self-confident, create a happier relationship, leave an abusive partner or just gain the peace of mind.

Action Exercise

List all that you want to achieve in your life, at least as many items as you are old right now. When you have your list ready, decide which of these things are worth trouble to make some effort and use self-development techniques. This approach is useful for the people who focus on results, moving towards their goals.

However, you might rather avoid pain and to tell the truth, most people will behave in this way. Then list the things which you don’t like in your life. Let’s say that you have 20 items. Then decide which are beyond your control. First, you need to learn to accept them. But the rest of the items which you have listed presents your challenges, your ailments which can be cured.

Summing up, self-help tools work when you use them in the right way and are convinced that your life will change considerably. If you have already tried changing your life and it didn’t work, read this article again and review which of the five reasons listed above applies to you. Then do the action exercises and most of all, define if you really want to change your life. The choice is yours.


What Self-help Tools Do You Use and Why?

I’d like to hear from you. Therefore, be so kind and leave a comment under this post. You may help or inspire other people. Thank you.

Victoria Herocten


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