Logic & Self-Help

If you are anything like me, articles on self-help topics tend to grab your attention. I click through only to find a different variation of the same topic I read about yesterday. There is a big audience for self- help, but when was the last time you read a self-help article and thought, “ohh I’ve never heard that before” or “ohh, I’ve never thought about it that way.” Sadly, I have not had this experience recently.

Every article dwells around the same topics, rebranding, renaming, or re — explaining the same ideas. But it all feels the same. I never feel like the content is stretching my mind. This could be for many reason. But one that has been on my mind recently is that lots of self-help content encourages the use of logic to better understand yourself. Logic, while it’s quite sexy, can be infuriating when it comes to self-help.

Have you ever wondered why you can’t logic your way out of an emotional problem? I have. Take for example addiction. People who struggle with addiction know that their behavior is bad, they know they have dysfunctional thoughts about their addictive behaviors, yet knowing these thoughts are unhelpful doesn’t mean they will stop the behavior. You can teach this person about their thoughts, help them understand their disordered thinking, yet they will still engage in the addictive behavior.

Another example is self-loathing thoughts. The cause of self-loathing thoughts could be anything — a bad day at work or feeling negative about your body. We all have self-loathing thoughts at one point or another. You can logically recognize the thoughts and understand why they are there but that doesn’t make them go away. Self-help articles may give you a few tips on how to better understand the thoughts. They will share tricks on how to minimize them and calm them down. These suggestions may take the edge off the pain. But they don’t make them go away.

I use these examples only to assert that logic has a time and place, but it must be used with delicacy. When poorly used, especially in self-help context, logic can make the reader feel worse. For if you can logically identify your problem, yet still not change it or relieve it, then what come of you? What to do next?

This highlights my current frustrations with self-help content, why it doesn’t stretch my mind or make me do a double take. Because I know I won’t be able to reason my way out of it. I know how to logically understand what is going on with me, why my problem is there and where is came from. Logical thinking helps but is it not the pathway out of the pain caused by my symptoms.

As a writer of self-help topics and content, I’ve considered my own use of logic to help readers understand certain topics. I have used logic to explain self-help topics and I will continue to. However, I’d like the clarify that logic is only one piece of the puzzle to finding your better self. It is one ingredient necessary for progress, but leaning on it heavily for relief is a mistake.

Logic is a tint you can use while looking out at the sea of your life. It’s a tint that can color how you see and experience what you are looking out at. The tint will make the view look less scary, more digestible. It will give you the courage to take the first step towards recovery or better health. Logic is a powerful and relevant hue. But remember logical thinking is the jumping off point to self- discovery, it can only change the tint of what you see, not the meat.