Soul-Wise Living
Soul-Wise Living

How to Make the Most of Self Help Books

Self Help books are flooding the marketplace. Why are there so many? People are craving to live a better life and are looking to books to lead them and to inspire them. Do I believe in self help books? Emphatically, yes, when and only when you know how to make the most of them~ otherwise, they become shelf-help.


Unfortunately, Self Help books are not working  because people are not investing themselves in them. They read them and then they become “shelf-help”. They try for a day, a week, maybe a month and then, they fall back into their old patterns of behavior. They are not investing their time or their money in their own self-growth and development. How do I know this? Because, I’ve been there and done that and failed. I’ve also done well with them. It all depends on how ready, willing and able you are to grow.

It takes keen self-awareness to be able to know how to make the most of self-help books. Tweet: How to make the most out of a self help book. Use these 6 steps or don't waste your time and money. Here are some of my thoughts on this:

1) Choose wisely~ know what you are looking for and find a book that supports that. Ask friends and colleagues, read reviews, pick one that tugs on your heart-strings. Don’t just pick a great cover image!
2) Keep A journal ~ when reading it, keep a journal next to you. Write down any emotions that come up when you are reading it and then spend some time with a Sacred Soul Journal to delve deeper into the meaning of those emotions for you.
3) Read critically ~ not all techniques will work for everyone.
4) Be A Student ~ highlight the book, dog ear pages, put tabs in it, take notes, create to-dos for yourself
5) Implement ~ Evaluate ~ Correct ~ begin the work but also allow your own insights to come into play. In other words, follow your own soul’s compass to make shifts and changes.
5) Find a Partner ~ finding someone to do the work with will help you create accountability for yourself.
6) Know your Limitations ~ check in with yourself. If this self-help is not working, find a coach, someone you can work with to make the shifts in your life you are desiring!

Your Soul Wise Living Assignment: What Self Help book is on your shelf now that, if you were to really embrace it, would support your growth and development? Are you willing to follow the above guidelines right now to do so? And, what self help book is on your shelf right now that you can release because it no longer serves it’s purpose and is becoming clutter?

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the links below! And, don’t forget to share your thoughts below too, I’d love to hear from you!


  1. Thanks for the great tips, Laura. Too often I have jumped into a self-help program because I just know it will bring more substance to my life, only to not follow through! Now I try to be a lot more selective by asking myself first if I will implement it.

    Comment by Kathy — February 16, 2015 @ 11:30 am

  2. That’s a great first question, Kathy. Will I implement this information? I love this one too ~ how committed will I be to the program? 🙂

    Comment by Laura Clark — February 17, 2015 @ 9:13 pm

  3. I’m a an over-consumer of self-help books. I think some are like candy because they make me feel good. Thing is, like you said we don’t do what is suggested.
    I am working on the habit of habit. I am utilizing the ‘after principle’. This actually came from a video but it is self-help none-the-less.
    Basically whatever you want to make a habit, add it to the end of something that is already a habit. i.e. flossing after brushing teeth, putting shoes on after putting socks on.

    So far so good.

    Comment by sara — February 16, 2015 @ 3:40 pm

  4. I like that a lot Sara! And if a self-help book supports feeling good~ i say great~ but don’t let it be a placebo for actually feeling good 😉

    Comment by Laura Clark — February 17, 2015 @ 9:15 pm

  5. Timing is everything, I feel, when it comes to self-help books. I picked up a book recently that had been recommended to me for years. I was so glad I waited and, as you suggest, chose wisely. Because I read it at the perfect time. If I’d read it when it was first recommended, I think it would have become shelf help.

    Comment by Nancy Tierney — February 17, 2015 @ 5:27 pm

  6. This is so true, Nancy! Timing is everything ~ i picked up a book off of my Shelf-Help shelf and it resonated with me ~ I often wondered why I had not picked it up before ~ and now I know, I wasn’t ready for it then 🙂

    Comment by Laura Clark — February 17, 2015 @ 9:16 pm

  7. My hubby and I have just started reading aloud to each other again (after about 19 years… – raising kids and reading to them) – We’re reading the new Tony Robbins book on Money – and it’s sooo much fun to reconnect this way again. I love the idea of journaling while reading – and OFTEN write in the margins of my self-help books. When I pick them back up – I see my notes and am reminded of my thoughts when I originally wrote them. Athough I’ve read a lot of e-books on line and on my reader, I’m still a fan of the good old fashioned hard copy for taking notes!

    Comment by Cena from — February 18, 2015 @ 10:39 am

  8. I find it so interesting that a book can be a game-changer for one person and leave another person cold. There are a handful that I continually refer to – both for my own benefit and that of clients. These are my “main course” resources, while other books are more like side dishes. And that’s great – you just need to fill your plate with the most tasty stuff first!

    Comment by Kathleen Watson — February 19, 2015 @ 1:57 pm

  9. Oh I like that “Main Course” Resources!!!!!!! Great analogy!

    Comment by Laura Clark — February 20, 2015 @ 2:03 pm

  10. These are great pointers to make the most out of self-help books. I particularly liked the one suggesting to keep a journal at hand and to find a partner to work through the book. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Comment by Lilia Lee — February 19, 2015 @ 2:10 pm

  11. Lilia ~ I did a book with a partner once and it no doubt quadrupled it’s value!!!!! 🙂

    Comment by Laura Clark — February 20, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

  12. Wowzers! Thinks hands down one of my favorite posts of yours! I am totally that person who reads, highlights and dog ears! BUT I definitely coul learn to sit and actually DO some of the self help exercises! My habit of reading while walking is way cool… But in times when I’m reading and actually want to o the exercise…mi never quite go back! that’s why I Loooove the concept you mention about getting partner! Brilliant! Love you and all you do for people in the world!

    Comment by Kelly — February 19, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

  13. Awesome, Kelly! Thanks so much for your support……………… And let me know when you DO the exercise in your next book and if you chose a partner to help you!

    Comment by Laura Clark — February 20, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

  14. I love this post. I have to say no self help book has ever done more than being coached.

    Comment by Lorraine Duncan — February 19, 2015 @ 11:09 pm

  15. I understand, Lorraine! Coaches add an extra dimension ~ even if they are going through a ‘Self’ Help book, right?!

    Comment by Laura Clark — February 20, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

  16. Agreed! Thanks for the reminder. I find myself often looking for a buddy to work through a self-help book with me, especially those business self-help books. Not always possible, but when it works out, it can be fabulous. =-) Congratulations on your awesome new book!

    Comment by Frances Arnold — February 21, 2015 @ 4:14 pm

  17. Thanks Frances~ the book is getting such resounding feedback! And, I love the buddy-support idea 🙂

    Comment by Laura Clark — March 16, 2015 @ 10:20 am

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