Editor’s Note: UPDATED as of October 26, 2016 for relevance and accuracy.
There is a famous quote by Lao Tzu that says:
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
This drives what I feel is true about self-help and personal development. Many times, we need to let go of who we have told ourselves to be, of the habits we said cannot be changed, and the patterns that cannot be broken, to achieve our full potential.
Change comes when we believe that it is possible, and when we open our minds to the potential of who we could become. So where do we start to work on this personal development? Books for personal development, or even articles online, are not a bad place to start.
Here are some of my suggestions.
10 Best Self Help Books for Personal Development
1) The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown
Brene Brown writes about ten guideposts that can help us get rid of the shame and guilt that we carry around. This concept should help us embrace the ideas that we belong, that we are worthy.
Her writings show us how to be more authentic. It helps us shed others’ ideas as well as our own of what we should. She teaches us to show courage and comfort in embracing who we truly are. This is one of the books for personal development that carries a true message of acceptance.
2) Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior Paperback by Mark Goulston & Philip Goldberg
The authors teach you to “transform 40 common self-defeating behaviors, including procrastination, envy, obsession, anger, self-pity, compulsion, neediness, guilt, rebellion, and inaction.” By learning to stop these self-defeating behaviors, you can achieve success and have a life that you embrace.
3) You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
“YOU ARE A BADASS IS ONE OF THE BOOKS FOR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR PEOPLE WHO DESPERATELY WANT TO IMPROVE THEIR LIVES BUT DON’T WANT TO GET BUSTED DOING IT.”
Jen Sincero shares moving stories, clever advice, and simple exercises to help you recognize and cease the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that are keeping you from the life you want. You will learn where these patterns started, to accept the things you cannot change, and to take on the things that you can. One of the most inspiring books for personal development.
Derek Rydall focuses on ONE important point: “the answer is already in you.”
He believes that there is no part of us that is not exactly as it should be. That deep down we possess the skills and the abilities, but something stopped us from knowing this along the way. The book follows seven stages that show us that we actually are not lacking anything, that everything we need is already inside of us.
5) I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” by Brené Brown
So many people get stuck on this idea of “what will people think.” Somewhere down the line, they learned to care more about what others thought of them than what they think of themselves. In this spirit, Dr. Brene Brown writes:
“We need our lives back. It’s time to reclaim the gifts of imperfection—the courage to be real, the compassion we need to love ourselves and others, and the connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life. These are the gifts that bring love, laughter, gratitude, empathy and joy into our lives.”
When we can truly love and accept ourselves in this way, we can achieve greatness.
6) Healing Your Emotional Self: A Powerful Program to Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem, Quiet Your Inner Critic, and… by Beverly Engel
Beverly focuses on healing your emotional self. Whether this means letting go of toxic people in your life and the self-esteem damaging messages that come with them, or letting go of the shame and guilt you have been inundated with your whole life.
The author works to help you become more kind and tolerant of yourself. To create an image of yourself that you feel worthy of. One of the great books for personal development for those who need to let go of past abuses and hurt to achieve their personal goals.
Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She shows us that using tools such as self- admiration, does not necessarily mean we will be successful.
The fact is that this mindset can actually get in the way of our success and growth. The author focuses on the idea that we can actually take part in lifelong learning that can lead us towards our most significant accomplishments.
8) Self-Defeating Behaviors: Free Yourself from the Habits, Compulsions, Feelings, and Attitudes That Hold You Back by Milton R. Cudney
I do not think you can get a better review than this:
“The most detailed examinations of self-defeating behavior I have ever read…. Very useful.” — Albert Ellis, PH.D., President, Institute of Rational-emotive therapy, and author of A New Guide to Rational Living.
When the person that literally founded the school of thought on how our thoughts impact our emotions, you know this is a book you need to read! It focuses on the simple premise that we are constantly faced with opportunities to demonstrate self-defeating or self-enhancing behaviors.
This is one of the bestselling books for personal development of all time. It has helped countless people change their thinking, and achieve their goals. Dr. Peale simply wants individuals to live a happy and nourishing life by: believing in themselves and what they choose to do, and by developing a sense of purpose.
If people believe that they have the power to accomplish anything, they can learn to be at peace with the thought that they can be truly successful. They will also find meaningful personal and professional relationships. Finally, this book can help folks grow control and confidence in themselves.
This is a simple and phenomenal workbook. One of the major reasons that people enter therapy and are held back from achieving their goals, are issues with self-esteem.
This book will help the individual to learn the roots of their confidence issues, how their formation may have been faulty, and that they have control of who they are and what they want to achieve going forward.
Which of these books for personal development will you read first?
Working on self-esteem, getting to the point where you believe in yourself and your abilities, can be the single most important thing that someone can do to achieve personal development and success. Once we have developed a strong foundation of self-esteem, all things are possible.