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The Best Self-Help Books Ever

Updated on March 15, 2013

Self Help Books Are Supposed to help

I am an avid reader, I will read anything if it will hold still long enough.

I've read a lot of self help, some of it actually did help but a lot of it just left me wanting more information.

They tend to go into the hows and the whys but leave you hanging on the what you can do about it part...

While it is helpful to understand why you do some of the things you do, what most of us really want to know is how to change that. Knowledge without action is useless.

There have been a handful of books that I've read, that actually have helped me change my life.

They gave me practical and useful information that I was able to put into practice without requiring a degree in psychology to understand it.

I hope these books help you as much as they have helped me.

Whether you are struggling with codependency, setting personal boundaries, trying to save a relationship, or trying to control an out of control life, there is a book here for you.


Michelle Weiner Davis

Of all the books that have come my way, the books written by Michelle Weiner Davis have probably made the most difference in how I see myself and others.

There are many different approaches to therapy. Not all therapy requires examining your past in detail, dissecting every piece of information, and dwelling in the past.

There is also an approach that is solution-oriented. It means not focusing on the problem, but seeking a solution.

This is the form of therapy Ms. Davis advocates. It is short, it is simple, and it works.

She is best known for her "Divorce-Busting" books. Divorce is not the only way out of a bad marriage, no matter how bad it seems. She shows you ways to change your marriage by changing the way you view the world.

She didn't stop at Divorce Busting though, she went on to subjects such as getting through to the man you love, and changing your life and everyone in it. Her no-nonsense, common sense approach really can help you change your life and everyone in it.

Most of our problems are easily fixed, and Michelle Davis can show you how. Her approach is simple, it doesn't take years of therapy, it doesn't require the help of another person, and it doesn't cost a lot of money.

What she will teach you is so simple, even my children understand it and use it. If we are upset that someone is driving us crazy, then we only find more ways they drive us crazy. Isn't it amazing how we tend to find exactly what we are looking for?

When I first started reading the series of books written by Ms. Davis, I was a little disappointed. It sounded to easy, just changing my focus could not possibly change my life. I read several of her books from cover to cover looking for the big secret, the gimmick, the sales pitch for her one week seminar. It wasn't there.

Mrs. Davis teaches you how to focus on the positive in your life.

She really drives home the point that we as humans tend to do the same thing over and over expecting different results.

This is one author that actually gives you something you can do to change your bad thinking habits and eventually change your whole life.

Boundaries ~ Henry Cloud

If you have ever witnesses a property dispute between neighbors, you know how important understanding boundaries can be in the outside world. When two people claim the same property things can get downright nasty.

The same thing happens in our personal lives, we aren't always sure where our property begins and another persons ends. We take responsibility for their problems, blame another person for our problems and nobody really owns anything.

That's where these books come in. They not only teach you how to own what belongs to you, but how to give ownership of other people's life back to them. How to define clear boundaries emotionally, and physically.

This series is especially helpful for those coming from codependent families, as boundaries are often blurred in a family living with addiction. It can happen to anyone though. So if you find yourself saying yes when you want to say no, being sucked into other peoples problems, or if you tend to be a people pleaser these books were written with you in mind.

In this series each book has a companion workbook if you are interested. The workbooks are a great addition.

Patricia Evans

If you are living with or have lived with verbal abuse you know the devastation misuse of words can cause. Name calling, constant criticism, blame, accusations. They erode our self-esteem piece by piece until we have very little left to hold on to.

Many victims of verbal abuse don't even realize that what is happening to them is abuse. They believe that something really is wrong with them, or the person they love would not talk to them the way they do.

These books offer hope to those trapped in verbally abusive relationships, they help you see the abuse for what it really is, and give you practical ways to deal with it in the future.

***Warning*** Sadly she does present verbal abuse as a male on female problem. As an abuse advocate I find that this does more harm that good. Males can be victims of verbal abuse just as much as females can. Females can perpetrate abuse just as much as males can. It is not a gender issue, but an issue of power and control. Anyone can exercise power and control over another, female or male.

If she presented a more balanced view, this book would be far higher on my list of must reads.

Melody Beattie

It took me a long time to understand what codependency was and what it had to do with me. Though I grew up beings touched by alcoholism and drug addiction it wasn't a daily part of my life.

Codependency is not just about addiction, it is about dysfunctional patterns of coping that perpetuate from family member to family member. If we did not have healthy relationships with out family, we are more likely to seek out unhealthy relationships as adults.

I have also heard codependency referred to as "toxic love." Where an addiction seems to come not in the form of chemicals, but in the form of another person. The addiction cycle is often present. There are very high highs, and very low lows, you try to break free but you find yourself coming back over and over again.

So if you find yourself in a series of one unhealthy relationship after another, you might want to give codependency another look. Melody Beattie can help you navigate these difficult to understand waters.

The Messies ~ Sandra Felton

No books have set my mind at ease like the Messies Series. It's more that just a guide to organization. It helps you understand why your life is disorganized and tells you what you can do about it. I'm still very disorganized, but I'm okay with it. *Smiles*

Sandra Felton is not another Martha Stewart clone sharing household tips. She is the number one messie. She has been there, and she knows what we feel like when our life is a mess.

Practical tips, time savers, and encouragement to find a way to organize your life that suits you and your lifestyle. She also has a support group called "Messies Anonymous." In case you need a little extra help.

Self-Help that Actually Helps.

There are too many books out there that are tagged self-help, that really don't help at all. Understanding the why's and how's is fine, but what people are really looking for is that life changing "a-ha" moment.

Each of us is on a path to finding out more about ourselves and how to live a happy life. These books helped me with my journey, and I sincerely hope they help you with yours as well.


Self-Help that really helps

Here you can vote for your favorite self-help book, you can even add one I haven't reviewed yet.

The Messies Manual: A Complete Guide to Bringing Order & Beauty to Your Home
The Messies Manual: A Complete Guide to Bringing Order & Beauty to Your Home

This is the book that started it all! First published twenty-five years ago, The Messies Manual has helped over 350,000 people get rid of their messy habits.

Change Your Life and Everyone In It: How To:
Change Your Life and Everyone In It: How To:

Whether you're attempting to improve a difficult relationship, struggling to overcome depression, trying to establish a better relationship with your kids, or coping with a stressful work environment, Change Your Life and Everyone In It is filled with inspiring examples of people who have made real and enduring changes in their lives.

The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond
The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond

In The Verbally Abusive Relationship, you'll find validation and understanding-it's "not all in your head"-and encouragement for your efforts to change the situation.

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

Recovery has begun for millions of individuals with this straightforward guide. Through personal examples and exercises, readers are shown how controlling others forces them to lose sight of their own needs and happiness.


Why I write...

Socrates believed that the purpose of human life was growth, both personal and spiritual. When you take a close look at your life, you see patterns. When you look at the lives of others those patterns expand. Human nature becomes less of a mystery once you see and understand those patterns.

Life is beautiful, even the ugly parts of it carry a certain beauty. Join me as I explore life and the meaning behind the events we witness. On my blog, in my novels, and here at Squidoo I explore many of these patterns we find recurring throughout our lives.

I invite you to join me on that journey.

Share your self-help secrets here...

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    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      I have too many to list here, so just love yourself and be yourself :)

    • ayngel boshemia profile image

      Ayngel Overson 7 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @thesuccess2: Yes, I'd never really thought about it before but there are distinct differences in the self-help genre. Napoleon Hill and Tony Robbins are more success oriented, but the books I have listed as my favorites are more in the "personal" successs field :)

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 7 years ago

      Don't know these authors at all, so an interesting list. I know Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins but I guess that's a different kind of self-help.

    • michaeldavid3 profile image

      michaeldavid3 7 years ago

      GR8 selection. Check out my book & get the 1st chapter free. If you are interested I can also send a PDF file of part 1.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I wish I'd had those books on verbally abusive people several years ago! Actually, my mother needed them. What I like most about this lens is that it's not the same NY Times best-selling books that you see everywhere else.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Love your collection of self-help books. Not read any of them, alas, and I may not (I'm trying to wean myself off them lol. Anyway, just added a book to your list that (I think) covers many of the topics in your top 5 list. It's a book called The Bonds That Make Us Free byu C Terry Warner. Only read it once but it blew my mind because it forced me to look at myself *not* as the victim. Great.

      As for my other favourite self-help books, well I've listed them here ;-)

      Thanks. I'm following you on Twitter now, too


    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 8 years ago

      Looks like some useful resources here. I especially like your writing and the ideas that changes - self authored or not - create special challenges. I've always felt restless after a few years of anything. Can't change my cravings for change so always looking for ways to make them work out well.

    • Janusz LM profile image

      Janusz LM 8 years ago

      Very Cool Lens .. Well done, blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • ayngel boshemia profile image

      Ayngel Overson 8 years ago from Crestone, Co

      [in reply to luvmyludwig] Excellent Choice (I probably should have warned you ahead of time, the Messies books are addictive!)

    • luvmyludwig lm profile image

      luvmyludwig lm 8 years ago

      great lens! I bought the messie's manual, I have wanted it for a while!