“It’s going to be another one of those days”.
“I never have enough time”
“I can’t do it”
“There’s no point in trying”
“I’m always in pain”
“No matter what I do I can’t lose weight”
These phrases may sound familiar to some of you, I hope they are not, but we tend to self-sabotage when it comes to the things we say to ourselves. If we are seeking out long lasting, meaningful change, whether that be our behaviours, feelings, attitudes or even beliefs our self-talk is critical to that process.
This blog is written with the intent to show you how effective self-talk can be in making long-lasting change in the areas of your life you wish to improve. Most of this post will be based on the book by Shad Helmstetter ‘What To Say When You Talk To Your Self’ I recommend looking into it if any part of this article resonates with you.
Shad illustrates that self-talk is a practical way to live our lives by active intent rather than by passive acceptance. Meaning that what we say to ourselves has a direct effect in our subconscious minds and we can give new direction by talking to ourselves in a different way, consciously reprogramming our internal control centres with words and statements which are more effective, more helpful to any area we want to improve. The human brain will do anything possible you tell it to if you tell it often enough and strongly enough! If you tell it the wrong thing about yourself, that is what it will accept – and act upon!
Levels of Self-Talk
There are several kinds of self-talk, we can use various levels of self-talk each day, some of these work for us, and some against us.
LEVEL I: NEGATIVE ACCEPTANCE (“I cant…”)
This is the least beneficial level and the most harmful self-talk we can use. This is simply saying something negative about yourself and accepting it. These are easy to spot as they normally characterised by words like “I cant..” or “if only I could…” etc. Rid yourself of the negatives, they may seem harmless, but they are powerful and can stand in your way.
LEVEL II: RECOGNITION & NEED TO CHANGE (“I need to… I should”)
This is simply understanding and expressing to ourselves or others our need to change. Characterized by words such as “I need to…”, “I ought to…, or “I should…”. The issue with this level is we recognise the problem but create no solution. A lot of the time we say the phrase to ourselves and don’t finish the sentence where in most cases the ending would subconsciously be “I cant”. “I really need to lose weight… but I cant!” This can create guilt, disappointment and acceptance of our own self-imagined inadequacies. Is that good programming?
LEVEL III: DECISION TO CHANGE (“I never…. I no longer”)
This is the first level that works for us, you recognise the need to change and you take action. This level uses words like “I no longer have a problem losing weight”, “I no longer have a problem with….” This works your subconscious mind to make change. Eventually it will start to question your actions when you continue the habits that aren’t helping you be successful. It is more complicated than simply saying a few words to yourself. You need to reprogram these habits and behaviours, but this self-talk guides your subconscious mind to its new directive and create confidence in change taking place.
LEVEL IV: THE BETTER YOU (“I am…”)
This is the most effective kind of self-talk, it paints a clear new picture of who you really wanted to be. This self-talker deals with problems and opportunities in a whole new productive, self-activating way. This is the opposite of Level I, it replaces helpless “cannot” with vibrant “Yes I can” or “I am losing weight. I am being productive with my time. I am healthy, energetic, enthusiastic and determined. I believe in myself.”
This goes on all the time in our minds, although most of the time we are unaware of it, think of an internal dialogue that can be conscious or unconscious. This must first start with you deciding not to listen to any negative self-talk, it will feel uncomfortable, even unnatural for some, but it is key for allowing the new positive self-talk to override the old.
Anything you say out loud to yourself or to someone about yourself is part of your self-talk. Listen to what you say when you speak. Do the words you use paint a picture of who you want to be? If not, change the words and rephrase them to build a better self. It’s also useful to listen to successful people self-speak or talk about anything in general, they radiate positivity, control, enthusiasm, optimistic approaches to failure etc. they have bad days like the rest of us, but their average score is probably much higher.
This is simply self-talk that you write out. Phrased in specific statements which deal with most important instructions you wish to deliver to your subconscious mind. These can be written on small cards or a note on your phone. This focuses your attention and makes you think critically about what you’re trying to change and increases your awareness of your objectives.
I know Pete is big into this and often promotes the book Miracle Morning for these steps to improve confidence and attitude.
At this moment, or at some time in the future you may decide to make a change in your life, be that a small or substantial change. During this process be aware of your self-talk, listen to the words you say to yourself each day, are you setting yourself up for success? Learn the right words to use, make them direct, kind, caring, strong and determined. When you do, you will give yourself the greatest chance for long lasting meaningful change.