The Self Help Sham

One of my favorite things to do in NYC is just wander around.

Especially now that it’s warm out, I like to just put on my sun hat and get lost for a few hours on a Saturday.


There’s never a lack of things to do or explore.

Like just the other day, I happened upon a person playing the didgeridoo.

The didgeridoo.


On the street corner. Busking.

Like, you were able to smuggle that thing all the way from Australia, and yet here you are busking for money? How’d ya swing that?


But on those exploration afternoons, somehow, I always seem to end up at my favorite frozen yogurt shop. Which just so happens to be next to a big bookstore.

You guys…

It hurts my heart to think that actual bookstores are becoming extinct.

Seriously. Enough of this E-Reader crap. Let’s get back to real, hard bound, turn-the-page books!

Who am I kidding, I haven’t read a book in who knows how long. I never even read a book throughout high school. #CliffNotesForLife


But, that being said — I like to go into bookstores.

So, many a Saturday, I’ll meander around the three levels of Barnes & Noble, ice cream in hand, and people watch, browse, title skim, and just watch the literate in their native habitat.

But one thing that just boggles my mind is how many Self Help books there are.



It is a billion dollar industry.

Everyone from Jessica Simpson, to Jenny McCarthy, to Ozzy Osbourne, to Steve Harvey has authored a self help book.

And, I don’t mean to be cynical, but self help books…kind of make me angry.

Now don’t get me wrong, I read The Purpose Driven Life and loved it. (Albeit 2004).

And I understand that a lot of people have really “gotten a lot” out of these self help books.

But in my humble opinion: self help books are a bunch of crap only scratch the surface.

During my recovery from anorexia, I tried everything. I bathed myself in positive affirmations. I worked on mindfulness. Therapeutic crafting and adult coloring. I practiced positive thinking. Journaled. Set goals. Broke goals. Gave up on goals. Ripped up said goal calendars.

I tried every “self help trick” in the book.

Nothing truly made me free. Nothing broke through the chains of ED addiction and fear and destruction.

Only one thing: Only God.

I was reminded of this just the other night.

I had reached my breaking point.

Yes, I am strong in my recovery, but every once in a blue moon, I get tired of being strong.

Looking in the mirror, my face stained black with mascara, eyes swollen and distant, I allowed myself to just cry.

To Him.

And I remembered something that I had momentarily forgotten amid the chaos that life can so easily become:

I cannot do this on my own. 

I cannot “self-help” my way out of the trials and the heartaches of life. There is nothing I can do but just cry to my Savior that I need rescuing. Need guidance. Need Him. 

Maybe you can relate, but I know at least for me personally, I sometimes feel as though I cannot be real with God. I have to present to Him only the best parts of me. Only the polished, healed, well-spoken parts of my soul.

But what about the broken parts? The parts that need healing? The parts that a self-help book can’t fix. Why is it that those parts of my soul — the parts that need the most healing — are the parts that I am the the most resistant to reveal to Him. To hand over to Him?

That is the part of my spirit that Jesus longs to heal. That He so desperately wants to shine His love into so that the brokenness can mend.

But He’s not going to force Himself where He’s not invited.

In order for His healing power and healing love to be able to penetrate into my spirit, I have to surrender it. I have to be willing to say, God, help.”

Not “Self, help.”

But “God, help.”

He’ll take care of the rest.

Self help books, sure, they can offer some good advice. Some ways to alleviate stress, relax, organize your life, boost your confidence, declutter your home.

But they can’t heal.

Only God can do that.

I should know.

“God, help.”



368 thoughts on “The Self Help Sham

  1. All kinds of emotions went through my mind as I read this post, but in the end that’s it, you nailed it. If we want to change, change for the better, there is only one Source, and beating around the bush with “trying” is only going to prolong the pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I just loved this. It is a concept I am finally, finally beginning to grasp in my life, that only God can show us where we need to be. Mindfulness, affirmations, and self-help might be useful to some degree. But without God, they will fall short.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey 🙂
    I just discovered your blog and I am fascinated by your style of writing. 🙂 It’s really cool! And I totally agree with you, it is so sad, that only few people keep reading books. On the other hand I would consider our blogs as another kind of books, so maybe the medium changed, but we still read. 😉
    Maybe you want to look at my blog too?
    Yours, littlegreenraven

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful post! I have been there in the past trying different things to help myself relax. The only thing that stayed with me which I still use is journalling which I discovered through self-help books. Now I journal with God and have done it for years. This is where I pour my ‘real’ heart to him. If I ever think of avoiding those deep wounds I read Psalm 139 which reminds me that God knows already! Thank you for this really enjoyed reading this xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. With all the faith I believe and know that I can boast of in the Lord, the one prayer I’ve prayed most is, “God help me”. Without HIS help, what can we do? Absolutely nothing! May the good Lord give you more wisdom, Lady beautybeyondbones, to show the world how to get it right.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey lovely, its been a while since we last spoke, I have been through quite a lot the past few week, it has felt like such crap that I have been dealing with, but God told that it was in preparation for what is to come. the burial of the old me, and my rebirth into a new full life in Jesus, our beautiful saviour, my Baptism. I am so excited I am praying more, reading scripture more fluently & absolutely enjoying my personal time with the lord <3. I hope you are well my amazing friend ❤
    God Bless you
    Benjamin xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We tend to shy away from bringing Jesus ouir true face because we still have a human reasoning condition attached to our pysche. I find myself struggling for days searching for a specific piece of scripture that addresses my needs and until I find it I am unsettled.

    Thank you for you wisdom and your openness. It helps to know that we are all challenged in the same ways and to see how others manage their walk. Peace girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t know how I missed this post. Thank you. We have something for you. Inshallah we will share it with you on Monday. I really pray for you to write a book. Your posts speak of so much courage faith and determination

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for this lovely post. I am going through a similar period of defining what it means to get “self help”. This really brightened my day! Thanks fellow New Yorker

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree with all my ❤ about books!! My favorite in NYC La Casa Azul Bookstore was started as a dream/vision by its owner a few years ago, first as a book club at El Museo Del Barrio. She finally opened a true "location" up on 103rd and I loved it!! I come to NYC once a year on a "shopper bus" (I live over 4hrs away) and for the past 3 years, I went loco buying from there. I was sooooooo psyched for her last year as they won one of those grants that Citicorp was handing out for small businesses. They were featured on a Citicorp add and everything. Though the store was small, it was always bustling with activity and had a LOT of events such as readings, signings and other things that really made the place vibrant. Sadly, they decided to close the store this past December. I truly don't know all the inside about why. Her post to all was that they were going to regroup and re-market their product with an even better focus on the community. They have a website, but their book selection there doesn't reflect what the store was. Its sad. I love and will always love books. LOL my poetry book has one all about that subject. As far as self help books, I tried one in college and it didn't do a thing for me. I found The Four Agreements ok when I read it a few years back but other than that, I don't pick them up. Biggest hugs u!!! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Again, I’m right on the same page with you here – the exceptions I would have made I realize didn’t ‘self’help me but made me press further into Daddy’s healing and plan for me. Self-help, I think, is such a big industry (that’s right, I used the i-word) because you just can’t answer a lost world’s questions without Jesus, but you can run all kinds of bunny trails everywhere else.

    For example, my oldest sister a few years back publicly announced that she was into this new-age-aliens-and-near-parallel-universes-self-empowerment stuff, I wouldn’t do it justice to try to explain even the basics, but the principles she lives by are so *almost* Jesus and yet, Jesus-less it’s uncanny. So many principles of a grace-filled life completely void of the Grace-Giver and focused instead on the me-myself-and-I trinity, it’s like there’s a bunch of orphans running around tapping into the secrets of life how God intended it and they’ll always need more answers because He isn’t in the equation. Anyway

    Thank-you for saying something that needed to be said. Christian or secular, self-help is no help because we were completely helpless by our self.

    P.S.: How is your friend’s family doing? (and how are you doing?) Here’s a couple verses for you today: “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” [1 Thessalonians 5:8-10] Let faith and love guard your heart in this tender time [=

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there Carson! You’re so right-God has to be in the equation for it to be on track. And yes! Amen -we are completely helpless without him. Thank you so much for asking and for passing along those verses. Loss is always hard, but like the verse, we have to daily put on the breastplate of faith. You’re kind my friend. I appreciate you:) Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Let me just say, I love you! Your heart after God is such an encouragement!!
    When I read Jessica Simpson’s name, I must admit, I snickered a bit. And the line about people watching in their native habitat was classic. But when you said God, you had me.
    I’m in recovery for lots of things, and He is my only source of help.
    I’m thrilled that Camellia’s Cottage sent me to visit you!!
    Congrats on your Blogger Recognition Award!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Yeah, self help books often teach to seek an easy way out that goes around God. Like, “You can do it yourself.” It’s not until you realize that you can’t “do it yourself” that one can allow God to do what He so much wants to do, almost begs us to allow Him to do, work within our lives. He can only do this if we allow Him to do so.

    As for E-Readers. I worked in bookstores long before E-Readers. I miss real books. But I had such a library in my home that it was insane. Now, I have all those books and more on one book, my e-reader. Plus, I can adjust the size of the font for my slowing aging eyes, so I can enjoy reading again. The only reason I had stopped reading before was because I just couldn’t enjoy it because the font was too small. Yes, there are large print book but, why not just a e-reader. Now my whole library fits in my back pocket.

    But I will always love the scent of an old book from the used book store and also the scent of newly printed pages of a new book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi friend! Thank you so much for this reflection. You’re right, ereaders do offer A LOT of convenience. And amen to that! We’ve got to let God do His thing in our lives. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox


  14. very nice and inspiring thing i wonder though, you referred to god as him, is there a specific reason? do you think of god as some superior human form?
    i am just curious..
    thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Shreyans, for this comment! Yes, I believe in God as the Father, as that is how Jesus refrenced Him in the Bible. Jesus used the word “Abba” which means “papa” or “daddy.” Hope that helps. I know there are some denominations that do not like to use pronouns when referring to God, but I personally do. It makes me feel closer to God, envisioning Him as my strong and loving father. Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is not a problem, though you should realize that whatever way you are referring to god is just a reflection of some hidden aspirations or needs of your mind, and that is why you are getting so much energy from it..
        keep sharing..


  15. First of all, I like your writing – light humour, sweet and honest.
    Secondly, you have waayyy too many comments for me to read 🙂
    which bring me to my third point – (in case someone said it already, sorry) – there is a good self-help we ought to read – the Bible. Lots of stuff in there for the body AND soul. Here’s a couple, if you don’t mind:
    I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns.(I Thess. 5:23)
    “As the saying goes, “Exercise is good for your body, but religion helps you in every way. It promises life now and forever.” These words are worthwhile and should not be forgotten.” I Tim. 4:8

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think The Purpose-Driven Life is more a how-to book than self-help. How-to books tell you how to do something (such as lead a more Christ centered life) while self-help books claim to have all the answers. The only self-help book I swear by is the Bible! Come to think of it, it’s a God-help book rather than self-help, anyhow. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yes, very true. Today, I needed to read this. So much going on where I need God’s healing. It’s so easy to present to good stuff to Him, but he also knows about everything else too. You are right, He will not force himself where He has not been invited.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Love this! I am totally with you on this. I know that I looked into all kinds of places to find something to heal me and fill the emptiness. Nothing worked…at least not for long. God changed my life with his love. I am always so overwhelmed by his grace and unfailing love. Thanks for your real and honest posts. Bless you heaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You are totally right. Only God can help. However sometimes we need to recognize what the problem is and where it comes from and that can be opened up to us if we relate to an example. That may well come from a book or film or a blog. Then we have to do something about it and that is when God’s healing can begin to restore our broken bodies. On our own we can do nothing, with God everything. You are amazing, keep being so.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Truly, Margaret-I am so touched that you would read and respond to my posts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your words have been a giant hug to me this morning that I really needed, so thank you. You are a blessing. Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  20. You shine HOPE, not self help. I seriously hate… (dislike) self help books, because they are superficial. They don’t get to the core of the brokenness and really get what people are struggling with, and God does. When I’m afraid. When I’m overwhelmed, I’m always led back to the rock that is higher than me. I know that even if I’m sobbing inside, He sees. He knows. And His comfort. His healing is out of this world. It’s supernatural. It’s hard to express it. I want to wander around NYC with you someday and talk about these things. ❤ Cause you just hit it so perfectly. God gives you beautiful words to say. I see His heavenly wisdom in you.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Good Morning BBB!
    Awesome write, my friend! I think many who read your blog can relate, I know I can! I live in chronic pain and have for more most of my life. I’ve never gone to a doc to be diagnosed because I don’t trust the medical field these days AND I don’t want to be put on medication the rest of my life because then t becomes the domino affect. …You know, ” this medication is contraindicated when taking with this or that.” or ” pro-long use of taking such-and-such, will cause you to grow an extra eye.” …Or something along those lines. With the Lord’s help, I run (six years now), and while it’s excruciatingly hard, I do it. I feel so much better and also sleep better. God is so good, isn’t He? I try to look at my pains as my ‘governor’; it pushes me to stay active and it works! If I let up….NOT good!

    Though you may not read much, you write very well and always produce an inspirational good read. ❤ I looove books and the SMELL of them! That's the closest thing I'll come to huffing. haha! 😮

    As far as the didgeridoo, "how'd ya swing that?' …..VEEERY CAREFULLY! lol!

    Love your writings and enjoy reading them. ❤

    Best Wishes!
    DJ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. There is a lot of wisdom here. Insightful, deep, and a road that leads to Jesus. The older I get the more I realize the gospel isn’t something you move on from, but something you stand on day-to-day. Thanks for writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Can I just say how incredibly smart brilliant and Incredibly intelligent you are. I say this not because it comes from a self-help book but because I know it to be true. I can’t in you to say you are wonderful writer and every now and then you continue to surprise me with your level of understanding of the stupidity of self-help books. I’ve come across this phenomenon as well and nothing truly works. The reason nothing truly works is because there’s no physical change in order for any change to truly happen it has to happen within that’s where the Holy Ghost comes in I begin to think about this topic yesterday and I think I might blog about the topic today because your words are intriguing to me. I just have one small favor to ask you I’m wondering if I could have your permission to post a link regarding this blog to my blog. I think it’s a topic everyone should be aware of and I think you’re a smart cookie so I want to promote that thought and your blog in the process. I pray many blessings upon you in the name of Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw thank you so much! You’re always so encouraging and positive. It really means a lot:) yes! Absolutely you can link up with me! I look forward to reading your thoughts 🙂 have a wonderful afternoon my friend! Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I guess the first question to ask when picking up a self-help book is ‘Why did the author write this?’. If the answer you come to is ‘money’ it’s best to put it back. I enjoy a self-help book if it’s presented in the form of a biography or has a lot of case studies. If it is psychobabble not so much. The best thing to do with self-help books is to pick and choose the bits you like best and to go with them. BTW Great post! Very thought provoking!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I really like your style of writing, it’s sassy and thought provoking. That said, I had to hit the follow button. Like you I have read just about everything I can think of on my issues (thyroid) and gotten nowhere so I ask repeatedly for God to help me find what it is my body needs in order to work right. I’m working on some of what I find (thus the challenges I give myself like the salads and exercise), but still need guidance still on the rest that I know of and have yet to discover. I think you’re right about the self help books.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Oh, this was great, so much truth. I hope more people realize this in this world where “life coaches” are EVERYWHERE they’re walking talking self help books. The phrase “life coach” sounds crazy. Is life some big ball game or something?

    Thanks for sharing this. I love your style of writing, it’s almost like you’re sitting in person with your readers having a conversation as friends.

    I also love to meander around in book stores doing the same thing you do. I used to do it A LOT back in high school. Today the only book I can bring myself to read is the Bible.

    I will be sharing this post to spread the word that self help books… #AintNobodyGotTimeForThat

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi again friend! Aw thank you so much! I know!! I see all these “life coaches” floating around social media, and (obviously no offense to any) but I just don’t get it! Personally I don’t feel like I cups ever be qualified to coach someone on how to live their lives, but then I guess that’s just me. The only true life coach is Jesus! Hope you’re having a great morning. And thanks again for your thoughtful comments! Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Your exactly right! Self help books are a load of crap.. there is only one way to get peace and that’s through the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ
    I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
    Have a blessed day!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I really hope this won’t at all seem like I’m correcting you, because that’s not what I”m meaning to do, just wanted to put my two cents in as they say. I both agree and disagree with what you’ve written in your blog post. I agree that sometimes for some people, self-help books or information might not be enough, and for those people going back to the basics of life and finding a core belief to hang on to help you find a way out of heart ache and pain. For some people though, self-help books and information can still be very beneficial, or for some maybe a bit of both is needed (books and information as well as using religion or other belief system)… For people that the books are not enough, your post has a lot of meaning and possible eye opening as to which way to turn… I look forward to read more of what you have written now that I found your blog!


    • Hi there! Thank you so much for this perspective! You really bring up some great points. There are a lot of great SH books out there. I definitely don’t mean to put the kebash on all of them. So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox


  29. Glad you found what you needed. B&N is my second church! Love that place. I get lost in there and yes, as a clinician I find myself in the self-help section. Call it research, call it basic curiosity. One thing I can say and what I tell my clients is to do exactly as you did. Try everything. Don’t give up. And eventually you will find that one thing that helps you breakthrough. Often times (all times) it ends up being an internal strength that you pull from. Like yours, Faith! Cheers!


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