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As much as 77% of what we say to ourselves may be working against us. And you know what’s even crazier than all of this negative self-talk? Deep down, every one of us innately knows that the world should be fair, and we should get our fair share; yet, we keep saying bad things to ourselves like, “I’m not good enough,” or “Who do I think I am to think I could get get?” when we talk to ourselves.
You see, part of the problem is that the first 18 years of our lives we are told no 148,000 times by well-meaning people who were only trying to protect us and keep us safe. However, sadly, eventually after all this ‘no’ programming we too eventually join in this bombardment of our own dreams and what’s possible and began telling ourselves, “no”. Repetition sure is a convincing argument, isn’t it? Especially, when we are the ones saying it now, huh?
Sadly, at this point of saying ‘no’ to ourselves, without realizing it, we begin constructing an invisible wall that stands between ourselves and our dreams, and what’s possible. Even though we can’t see that wall, that wall will remain standing tall and impenetrable for as long as our old programming remains within us. You see, we become the thoughts that are in our minds. And if those thoughts are… ‘no can do’… well, you already know the rest… I don’t even have to tell you…
You want to know what the really sad thing is though? Someone else programmed us to think like that. And ironically, they were most likely the ones who were on our side and most likely just trying to help us too! Sad, isn’t it? We’ve all heard that saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, right? Life sure can be crazy and confusing!
There is a silver lining in this dark ominous crazy life-cloud though. That lining is that there are many good self-help programs out there that can improve our lives. The bad thing though, according to Dr. Helmstetter most of them are lacking permanence, knowledge of the psychological process of the brain, and a new word-for-word programming for our minds. However, self-talk does have these three success elements. Thus, Dr. Helmstetter’s self-talk makes a lot of sense because it can paint a new and improved picture of ourselves in our own minds.
Another good thing in the self-improvement world is that it makes no difference what happened to us in the past or how others programmed us for something less than success without our permission. Thankfully, we literally, can change just a little bit about ourselves in order to gain a whole lot of quality of life back. The little thing we have to deliberately change is what we let others say to us, what we say to ourselves, and what we think and even feel about ourselves. With just a little bit of work we can reprogram ourselves for a better life.
We really can erase and replace all the less than excellent programming with excellent, life-fulfilling programming with self-talk. Hey, we talk to ourselves all day long anyways. There is just no getting around that. We’re going to do it regardless, so we might as well deliberately change the conversation going on in our own heads. Change the self-talk and change our lives for the better.
Interestingly, the real obstacle here many times isn’t our subpar programming, but the fact that most of us don’t realize that we’ve let others program us, and now we’re reinforcing it on a daily basis. We have blindly jumped right on that same wave of negativity and have continually strenghened that negative programming from others by what we say to ourselves now.
Thus, the invisible wall remains. However, we can crack that wall, weaken that wall, and then tear it down through our new and improved spoken words, unspoken thoughts, feelings, impressions, and physical responses. Hey, the former military man inside of me has always said that if you physically feel those butterflies in your stomach, then just command that squadron of butterflies to line up and fly in a wedge formation for you instead of against you.
We really can do this! You see, Dr. Helmstetter says that the human brain will do anything possible we tell it to do, if we tell it often enough and strong enough. So, let’s get going on this! And let’s do it with some vigor.
Hey, our subconscious mind is even working right now, day and night, to make sure that we become precisely the person we have unconsciously told ourselves to be. What kind of person have you told it to be? You see, here’s the deal, in order to live our best possible life, we are going to have to ditch the old habit of automatically believing the worst first, and the best last.
Part Two- Self-Management Sequence
The number one thing that most influences our success or failures, and thus our quality of life is our own behaviors. Basically, our actions or what we do on a consistent basis is what makes us, or breaks us. I’m sure this is common sense and most of us already know this. However, I’m also pretty sure that most of us have also asked ourselves, at least occasionally, why we do not do the things that we know we should do. Well, my friend, according to Dr. Helmstetter, the answer to why we don’t do what we know we should do is because of our feelings.
You see, our feelings act as a big life filter that all of our actions come out of. Basically, how we feel about something determines what we do and how we do it. If we feel positive about something we will behave in a more positive way with more positive energy, and thus eventually create more success for ourselves. So, now you’re probably asking if this is the secret, then can’t we just control our feelings and have everything we want. The answer isn’t quite that simple because there is something deeper in all of us that is influencing our feelings. And that thing influencing our feelings is our attitudes.
Our attitudes are how we view life. A good attitude is essential because it will affect how we feel about something and what we do about it, and thus how successful we become. So, I guess now the next question from all you eager achievers out there is where our attitudes come from.
Well, they come from our beliefs silly! Can you believe how simple this all sounds, yet we all struggle with creating that life that we want, don’t we? The funny thing about our beliefs though, is that they don’t even have to be true. Haven’t we all heard that old saying that if you believe you can, you can. And if you believe that you can’t, you can’t?
You see, we believe what we were programmed to believe. And right or wrong, all that programming starts on the day that we are born. By the way, why does that nurse have to slap our behinds and make us cry on day one? From the very beginning we’re faced with one of Einstein’s ultimate questions of, “Is this a friendly or unfriendly universe that we all live in?” How we’re programmed and thus what we believe plays a big part in how we see Eistein’s question and what we do about it.
Like it or not, that’s how the brain works. If we want to manage ourselves in a better way and change our results to better results, something we really can do anytime we choose to, it must first begin with self-talk according to Dr. Helmstetter.
So, here’s the breakdown of our self-management sequence according to Dr. Helmstetter. First, we start with self-talk. Hopefully, it’s positive and not negative self-talk. That self-talk, true or not, programs our beliefs. And our beliefs, true or not, affect our attitudes. Next, our attitudes, good or bad, affect our feelings. And finally, our feelings, good or bad, drive our behaviors to become successful, unsuccessful, or somewhere in between. Note: many of us tend to land on the success scale pretty close to where our parents and friends landed too… Boy, that self-talk thing is pretty powerful, huh?
Part Three- Self-Talk
Self-talk is a practical way to live our lives by an active intent rather than a passive acceptance, according to Dr. Helmstetter. The beauty of self-talk is that it paints a new internal picture of ourselves as we would most like it to be… And that’s a good thing. Wouldn’t life would be so much better if we can get our self-talk to work for us instead of against us?
There are different levels of self-talk. The most frequently used self-talk is negative acceptance. Basically, we say something negative about ourselves and then just blindly accept it as truth, whether it is or not. This kind of self-talk of negative acceptance lands us all the way down on the bottom at level one.
Level two isn’t much better than level one. Level two is recognition and a need for change. We can recognize this level through such statements as: “I need to… I should… I ought to…” On the surface level, level two doesn’t look so bad, but here’s the problem with it. Level two starts off on the right foot with recognizing an areas that needs improvement, but where it falls down on the job is that it doesn’t offer a solution. Thus, it subconsciously becomes, “I wish I could… but I can’t…” So, instead of giving birth to accomplishment and what’s possible it creates guilt and acceptance of our own self-imagined inadequacies. This is a bad thing. So, let’s try not to do this one, okay?
Next is level three of self-talk. Now, we’re getting somewhere. This is the first level of self-talk that actually works for us instead of against us, according to Dr. Helmstetter. Level three of self-talk is characterized by things like, “I never…” or “I no longer…” In level three we’re rephrasing old negatives and putting them behind us as we start in a new better direction. For example, if we’re smokers who want to quit, our lives will eventually change if we continuously and strongly say to ourselves, “I no longer smoke!”
And the great thing is that it doesn’t even have to be true yet. We can actually start practicing this level three of self-talk saying we no longer smoke while we’re still smoking. According to Dr. Helmstetter, if we say that we no longer smoke often enough, and with enough intensity, our minds will begin to believe it and then smoking will lose its appeal and hold on us.
Level four is the opposite of level one. This is the one we use least, but need the most. This is also the one that is most effective and gets us the best results. Here, we’re painting a whole new picture of ourselves of how we want it to be. This level of self-talk can usually be identified when people says, “I am…”
Level four is positive self-talk that takes place in the present rather than the past or future. Level four is exciting and gives us energy to push forward in creating the new and betterinternal picture of ourselves for real.
Part Four- We Can Begin Right Now
Let’s begin listening to everything we say about ourselves right now. Let’s erase what’s not working and replace it with what does work. Here’s the tricky part though. We need something to fill the void once we start erasing or we’ll just eventually fall back into that abyss of our old way of talking to ourselves and our old ways of behaving. We need to have a word-for-word vocabulary to replace the old with or our new and improved life won’t last.
You see, wanting it is not enough. Deciding to do it is not enough either. According to Dr. Helmstetter, the human brain says, “Give me more. Give me the words. Give me the directions, the commands, the picture, the schedule and the results that you want. Then I will do it for you. Give me the words!”
Dr. Helmstetter believes many times good self-improvement does fall short of self-talk because many of the self-improvement techniques out there are lacking some of the basic things that make up self-talk and make self-talk so powerful and enduring. These simple but powerfully effective things that self-talk has that many other self-improvement strategies lack is that self-talk is simple, easy to use, and it works.
Now, don’t laugh yet at the simplicity of it all yet. Often, it is in the simplicity that the genius lies. Most self-improvement strategies can help us improve our lives for a while, but the bottom line is that if it isn’t simple, then eventually we’ll stop doing it. Next, if it’s not easy we’ll also stop doing it. For example, most of us probably don’t mind expending a few seconds of energy here and there for self-talk. But, how many of us will spend one hour every day improving ourselves? Not many. Lastly, it has to also work. If our thought patterns don’t change, something that self-talk does do, well then, we can keep on beating ourselves over the head with these other methods of self-improvement all we want, but sadly, they will eventually fail us because we still have the old crappy programming.
Part Five- Methods of Self-Talk
The 1st method of self-talk is called silent self-talk. We do this one all the time and aren’t usually even aware of it according to Dr. Helmstetter. Within this method all we have to do is switch old negative self-talk with new positive self-talk. This is the easiest and most natural of all the techniques to use. It generally takes more awareness than effort to do this one. So, from now on let’s start to pay attention to everything that we are silently saying to ourselves. Then, let’s override any negative and recreate a positive force out of it. Let’s do this every chance we get and make our lives better through this simple method of silent self-talk.
Our 2nd method of self-talk is called sell-speak. Anything we say out loud, regardless of what it is or who it is to, is self-speak. It truly is a powerful force in our lives. So, let’s be more cognizant of what we saying out loud and replace any poorly chosen self-speak with better directions for our minds to operate on.
Here’s a little self-improvement trick to help us all become more cognizant of our own self-speak. Let’s begin to pay attention to the self-speak that comes out of others’ mouths. Then, let’s also occasionally ask ourselves the introspective question of, “Do I sound like that? Do I say those kind of words when I speak out loud?” This simple little trick will greatly help us become more cognizant of what we say out loud.
Third on the list of methods of self-talk is self-conversation. This is a cool and funny one all at the same time. Self-conversation gives us a chance to stop beating up on ourselves and to become a best friend to ourselves, like we’re supposed to be, by speaking our loud to ourselves. Basically, this is having a conversation our loud with ourselves about the best about ourselves. We can even act it out if that floats our boat and makes it stick better. This can be a lot of fun according to Dr. Helmstetter because it involves multiple sense, is very effective, and will get us some good laughs as people look at us like we’re crazy. If you’re not brave enough yet for this craziness of people looking at you all weird, then just do this method in the privacy of your shower each morning instead of out loud in some public place each day.
Our 4th method of self-talk is called self-write. I’m going to warn you up front that most people won’t do this very effective method of self-talk because it takes effort and time. It’s just like the self-conversation of self-talk that we’ve already mentioned above, except that we added one more step of writing it out every day. It involves another sense through writing as well as some slower deeper thinking. Again, it’s effective, but time consuming, so most won’t do it beyond the first few days, if they do it at all.
Finally, the 5th method of self-talk is called tape-talk. This takes the best of method four and lets us simplify it so that more of us will do it. We simply just do the self-write once and then audio record ourselves speaking it. Next, we just simply listen to it a few times a day. It’s simple and powerful positive programming. As a matter of fact, Dr. Helmstetter believes that he has never seen a better tool than tape-talk in all of his years of studying self-development. It’s like having our own personal coach by our side pulling the best out of us each day.
In conclusion, the workings of the human brain are completely indifferent to our stations in life. And that’s another good thing for many of us. You see, this means that anyone of us can use self-talk and benefit from it. But, first, we need to pick up Dr. Helmstetters book of, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself. Read it. Practice the principles. And use his tricks of the trade to help yourself succeed. Hint… Hint… there’s a bunch more secrets of success in his book just waiting for you to discover that I didn’t have room to share here in this article. Happy readings. And happy life!
Award-winning author, speaker, and educator
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