11 ways self-help can actually make your life worse

Self-help and self-improvement is a popular practice.

It involves using methods from psychotherapy, personal development, and more to change the way you think about yourself and develop your life.

But for some people, going it alone can have unintended consequences that damage their relationships or even make them worse overall.

Here are 10 ways self-improvement can actually make your life worse:

1) Provides unrealistic expectations of what your life could be like or should look like if you were “better”

You’re not going to wake up tomorrow and look like your favourite celebrity or have a six pack or different hair colour.

You’re also not going to suddenly be able to complete a piece of work in just a few hours or be able to turn your life around overnight in a matter of weeks.

It is important to accept how things are and how you feel about them, and work on accepting who you are and what you’re capable of.

Self-help books can put unrealistic expectations on you, making you think that if you just follow the right steps, you’ll get a better life.

And the more self-improvement books you read, the more those expectations will get distorted.

2) Increases the pressure on yourself to “fix” things that aren’t broken

You don’t have to change yourself if everything is fine.

The goal of self-improvement isn’t to make you perfect, it’s to make you happier.

And if you don’t feel like you’re broken or unhappy with where you’re at in life then there’s no need to try and fix yourself.

3) Inflates issues into something more serious than they are

There are some issues that probably need addressing but the problem is that self-help books will make them seem a lot bigger than they actually are.

For instance, you might be struggling to sleep or having trouble coping with alcohol. That might be something that could be fixed with some good advice and self-help techniques, but it isn’t “depression”.

You’re not going to suddenly wake up one day and no longer have depression if you only read a few self-help books.

4) Doesn’t help you get meaning from life

Using self-help makes sense on the face of it, but it doesn’t help you to get genuine meaning from life.

The consequences of not finding your purpose in life include a general sense of frustration, listlessness, dissatisfaction and a sense of not being connected with your inner self.

It’s difficult to find meaning when you’re not feeling in sync.

I learned a new way to discover my purpose after watching Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s video on the hidden trap of improving yourself. He explains that most people misunderstand how to find their purpose, using visualization and other self-help techniques.

However, visualization isn’t the best way to find your purpose. Instead, there’s a new way to do it which Justin Brown learned from spending time with a shaman in Brazil.

After watching the video, I discovered my purpose in life and it dissolved my feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction. This helped me to find meaning without using conventional self-help techniques.

Watch the free video here.

5) Only looks to change yourself and not the people around you

It’s easy to get caught up in self-improvement and that can sometimes lead you to neglect other people.

If you’re focused on building yourself up, then it’s easy to forget your friends, family members and loved ones.

You may begin to think that they’re not good enough for your self-improvement or that they don’t want help changing too.

So you make them feel worse by telling them what they need to do to be better or by assuming they’re not happy with their life.

6) May cause relationships to break down

Sometimes, people get close with others by sharing in their ups and downs – and then things go sour when one partner gets too focused on self-improvement at the expense of the other.

For example, maybe you’re always focused on yourself, and you get too wrapped up in your own issues that you neglect your partner.

Alternatively, a relationship with someone who’s constantly seeking advice from books about how to improve their life might be getting in the way of your relationship. Or it’ll eventually cause one partner to feel unappreciated or neglected.

7) Can make you feel like a victim

You can’t improve yourself if you believe you’re in the wrong and that your life is bad or that you should be grateful for what you have.

You’ll feel like a victim of your circumstances and unwilling to accept who you are.

8) Makes you unhappy

Self-help can prevent you from being happy because it’s not a natural way of thinking about things.

People who try to use self-help to change themselves are basically trying to fix something that isn’t broken by using practices that don’t work.

People who get caught up in self-improvement and then stop feeling great about themselves and their lives know what I’m talking about here.

9) Forces people to conform to other ideals in life that go against their beliefs or values

Sometimes, self-improvement involves trying to conform to a set of ideals which go against people’s beliefs and values.

Everyone should have the right to do what they want with their life, even if it doesn’t work for other people. Nobody should force you to think or behave any way you don’t.

10) Keeps you stuck in your comfort zone

The traps of self-improvement can be hard to get out of, because they feel comfortable and familiar and help us avoid facing our problems. This can make it hard to take a step back and think about life differently.

Ultimately, self-improvement can breed fear and keep you stuck in your comfort zone.

11) Prevents you from living freely

You’ll never be able to live freely if you’re always trying to improve yourself. You’ll always be thinking about what’s wrong with your life or how to get it perfect, which will keep you from being able to live in the moment and do what you want or need without worrying about the future.

How to avoid the traps of self-improvement

A lot of people who try self-help techniques find that they don’t work. This is because self-help doesn’t allow people to develop like they would naturally. It’s engineered, and it can be hard to get out of the process once you’re in it.

Here are 3 ways that you can avoid the traps of self-improvement:

1) Realize that self-improvement is driven by perception

The first thing you should do is to realize that self-improvement is driven by perception. People try to change themselves and make life better by looking outside themselves for answers.

To find real answers about how to change your life, it’s best to look inside of yourself instead.

2) Focus on improving your ability to take action

Often, people use self-help techniques to try to change themselves, but the real problem is that their life is too passive and they can’t do anything about it. They need to become more proactive in order for things to improve.

It’s much easier to change your life when you’re able to act instead of being just watching what happens around you.

3) Start to feel better about yourself and your life

The only way to stop the traps of self-improvement from getting you is by starting to feel better about yourself and your life. That’s when you’ll start feeling like yourself again, which will lead to positive changes.

The importance of empowering yourself

If you want this for your life, then the best thing you can do it start loving the person that you are, even if you’re not exactly where you want to be.

Who wouldn’t want to improve themselves?

I know I do.

The problem is that there are far too many fake gurus out there ready to sell you on unrealistic and ineffective solutions for improving your life by becoming a “better version” of yourself.

They want you to meditate, radiate “positive vibrations” and visualize the life of your dreams. They say this will make it come true.

Here’s the crazy thing:

Visualization and positive vibes won’t bring you closer to your dreams, and they can actually drag you backwards into time-wasting, idle fantasy and frustration.

But it’s hard to love yourself when you’re being hit with so many Instagram influencers telling you how a special kind of yoga, diet or incense will transform your life.

You can end up trying so hard and not finding the answers you need that your life and dreams begin to feel hopeless.

You want solutions, but all you’re being told is to create a perfect utopia inside your own mind. It doesn’t work.

I want you to turn off all the noise for a second and get back to absolute basics.

What are you here for?

Before you can experience a real change, you need to really know your purpose.

I learned about the power of purpose from watching Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s video on the hidden trap of improving yourself.

Justin used to be addicted to the self-help industry and New Age gurus, who sold him on visualization and positive thinking. It left him lost and confused.

That’s why he traveled to Brazil to meet the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, who taught him a life-changing new way to find your purpose and use it to transform your life and everything around you.

After watching the video, I discovered my purpose in life and it completely busted through the issues I was having with loneliness and feeling useless. This new way of finding success by finding your purpose actually helped me to start loving myself.

Watch the free video here.

How to find your purpose

The way you find your purpose is by listening to your inner wisdom and following its guidance.

There’s nothing more valuable than your connection to the universe and it’s always there for you when you need it.

But it’s not something that requires fancy meditation, chanting or being a guru. It can just be about paying attention and listening to what the Universe is saying to you through the things that are happening in your life.

Starting today, I have been on a mission to find the best way to find your purpose and share them with you.

I’ve found Justin Brown’s video on finding his purpose in life the clearest, most effective approach. As he says, it’s a “weird new way” to find your purpose, because it’s all about giving up on visualization and instead embracing what’s already been in his life up to the present.

I recommend checking it out. Here’s the link.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Picture of Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.