While an “addiction” to self-help is obviously starkly different from other addictions, it still involves chasing a high of some sort.
This high generally comes up around the time you start a new habit, self-help book, or personal growth program. “There’s an initial rush when we connect with something that seems like it can solve our problems,” clinical psychologist Chloe Charmichael, Ph.D. explains.
From there, your brain begins to focus on a different, theoretical version of yourself, or what psychologists call your ‘aspirational self,’ Carmichael says. At first, this new habit might make you feel like you’re finally doing it; evolving into your ideal self and closing the gap between who you’ve been and who you want to be. (Someone who is more organized, super fit, more loving in relationships, etc.)
When it doesn’t quite work out that way, for whatever reason, you’re likely left disappointed, feeling like you need yet another book or program to “fix” yourself. Then, you might immediately jump to your next goal without pause or reflection.
The hardest part of this self-help addiction is that, on the surface, it doesn’t seem toxic at all—it even masks as beneficial.
But just like going from one fad diet to the next, quickly switching from one self-help journey to another manifests in extreme stress and even self-hatred, with little to no reward. What’s more, the toxic mindset that once you fix that imperfect part of yourself, you’ll be worthy of love and respect, makes you even more obsessed with finishing the journey so you can finally be worthy.