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The concept behind self-development has been around for a long time.

The term “Self-Help” is associated with making changes to your life with the goal of improving it significantly.

You probably, at some point, have encountered the odd youtube video by a guru talking about the pursuit of happiness or the next self-help bestseller with a catchy title on display in the bookstore.

Here arises the question is self-help actually good?

This article will dig a bit into the history and modern use of self-improvement, where hopefully, we can find the answer.

History - How It All Started

You would be surprised to discover that self-help has existed for centuries, thousands of years even.

It started as early as Ancient Greece when philosophical schools offered guidance to morality, ethics, and well-being.

Later, between the 12th and 16th centuries, the “Mirror for princes” genre arose, popular for educating rulers on proper behavior and life habits.

The term self-help was born when English author Samuel Smiles published his book “Self Help” in 1859.

The book emphasized the importance of turning to the self for both intellectual and developmental growth, which jumpstarted the boom in self-help literature.

Around the 1900s, the self-help movement really gained traction across America, only to become the reportedly $13 billion industry it is today.

Sometimes though, the more popular something is, the more controversial it becomes.

Let’s Talk About The Controversy

As with any billion-dollar industry, self-help is surrounded by criticism.

Let’s try to unpack some of the main problems pointed out by self-help critics.

One of the main arguments against the use of self-development methods comes precisely from the fact that the industry is one of the largest in the world.

Due to the significant growth of self-help, it is seen by many as just this - a money-making business.

New books, courses, and ideas constantly come out, and this in and of itself highlights an important question.

If there is a need for so many methods, is there actually an effective one?

This question, coupled with the insane pool of information already available, leads to us asking ourselves - where does it end?

To interlock this with the next point, we ought to highlight the addictive side of turning to self-help methods.

It’s in a person’s nature to always strive for perfection, and one of the downsides of self-help is that it can feed into this desire.

As many have pointed out, it’s not hard at all to fall into the trap of never feeling like you have done enough to perfect yourself and your life.

Think about it - once you have accomplished something big, do you stop and say to yourself that this was enough, or do you find yourself pursuing a different goal again?

Now, don’t throw away your self-help books or delete the podcasts from your library just yet, as there are always two sides to the coin.

Don’t Lose Hope

The truth is, regardless of the controversy behind it, self-help can be an excellent tool for many if used correctly.

Here’s a piece of advice: do not get overwhelmed or swept up in the constantly increasing number of books, courses, podcasts, etc.

Instead, we urge you to put your critical-thinking boots on.

Try to look for information backed by science and research - there are multiple good self-help works written and created by actual professionals in the industry.

Another thing to remind yourself of is that not everything will yield the same results for you as it does for others, which is okay.

After all, it’s in the name - the help will come from the self, and you are the only person who knows what actually works for you.

And, of course, remember that most of the changes you need to make are long-term in order for them to have an actual impact on your life.

Final Thoughts

So what’s the verdict?

Even though there is no definite answer to whether self-help is good, that should not make you turn away from it completely.

There is a reason this concept has been around for this long, only to grow and become a leading industry.

There are multiple useful self-help sources that you can turn to for guidance as long as you remember not to rely entirely on them for answers.

At the end of the day, only you can help yourself grow as a person and succeed in life by utilizing the greatest tool of them all - experience.

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