by Shad Helmstetter
Pocket Books 1990
You don't have to be crazy to talk to yourself! We all talk to ourselves all of the time, usually without realizing it. And most of what we tell ourselves is negative, counterproductive or damaging. By learning how to talk to yourself in new ways, you can feel better and accomplish more. Self-talk works!
Everything and everyone around us, without being aware of it, has been programming us. Unfortunately, most of it was the wrong kind of programming – and we took it to heart. Year after year, word after word, our life scripts were etched. Layer by layer, nearly indelibly, our self-images were created. In time, we ourselves joined in.
By the time most of us reach adulthood, we are so conditioned to think in a certain way that our pattern of self-talk becomes habit. It is fixed. And for most, it says that way.
Unless the programming we received is erased or replaced with different programming, it will stay with us permanently and affect and direct everything we do for the rest of our lives.
We can change friends, spouses, jobs, or locations, and we will still take the same inner selves along with us… if we take the old images of ourselves with us wherever we go and into whatever we do, how could we expect to do better the next time we try?
Whatever attitude we have about anything will affect how we feel about it, which in turn determines how we’ll act about it. .. and that in turn determines whether or not we will do well. So our attitudes play a very important part in helping us become successful.
Everything we do is affected directly or indirectly by our attitudes. A change in a person’s attitude can affect just about everything else in that person’s life. Even a small shift in "attitude adjustment" can have a profound effect on what we do and how we do it... Since our attitudes are the result of our programming, it makes good sense to take a look at the attitudes we are living with, why they are what they are, and which of them we might like to change.
Our attitudes are our disposition – they are the ‘state of mind’ we live in. Our attitudes express themselves through our moods, our temperament, our willingness, and our hesitations. Our attitudes propel us forward toward our victories or bog us down in defeat. They are the foothold beneath us in every step we take. They are what others see most of the personality within us; they describe us and define us, projecting the image we present to the world around us. Our attitudes make us rich or poor, happy or unhappy, fulfilled or incomplete. They are the single most determining factor in every action we will ever make.
The attitudes you have about yourself determine the attitudes you will have about everything else around you. So if you want to change the way you feel about anything else, you have to start first with the attitudes you have about yourself.
Belief does not require something to be true. It only requires us to believe that it’s true. That’s powerful stuff! That means most of what reality is, to each of us, is based on what we have come to believe, whether it’s true or not.
We believe what we are programmed to believe. Our conditioning, from the day we were born, has created, reinforced, and nearly permanently cemented most of what we believe about ourselves and what we believe about most of what goes on around us. Whether the programming was right or wrong, true or false, the result of it is what we believe.
Why Change is so hard
1. Programming creates beliefs
2. Beliefs create attitudes
3. Attitudes create feelings
4. Feelings determine actions
5. Actions create results
Change your programming!
It is a self-generating cycle: thought, emotional response, physiological response, thought, emotional response and so on, until something breaks or changes the cycle. That is why one negative incident, first thing in the morning, can cause a chain reaction, which, if left unchecked, can affect everything else throughout the day. It affects our energy and our enthusiasm, our initiative and our spirit… This negative cycle is not caused by the problem or even that appears to set it off – the cycle begins with how you respond to the problem in the first place.
It makes no difference whether we believe it or not. The brain simply believes what you tell it most. And what you tell it about you, it will create. It has no choice.
The Mind Problem
Through a complex process of electrochemical physiological controls, our personal computer will affect and influence what we do in every area of our lives. It will directly affect everything about us, from how we get along with someone at home, to the amount of money we earn.
Every new thought you think has to have some old thoughts to stick to, a proper place to fit. When you are told something new, your brain will, in a fraction of a second, scour through literally millions of mental filing cabinets, filled with every idea or thought or impression you have ever stored. In that same fraction of a second, based on the information already stored in your mental files, your brain will send you an instant telegram, telling you how to feel about this new thought, where it should get filed, and whether you should accept it, believe it, keep it, and use it, or disapprove, disbelieve, and throw it out.
Designing our new self image
At our best, we have been living with only a part of our life’s programs working for us. Imagine what you could do if you could override the programs in your sub/mind, those that still work against you, and replace them with a refreshing new program of absolute belief; an almost unconscious, automatic new program that would to work for you – replacing the barriers with a refreshing new look at life you have in front of you.
Why change is so hard
We have been trying to achieve our goals with our own onboard computer pre-programmed to hold us back!
The more you think about yourself in a certain way, the more you will think about yourself in that same certain way! .. the mind works that way because the brain always tries to tie any new thing you think to something you already believe.
The longer you believe something, the harder it is to change that belief. The longer you have thought the thought, the truer it is!
Anything you say out loud to yourself, or to someone else about yourself, or about anything else, is part of your self-talk. Listen to everything you say when you speak. Do your words paint the picture for your subconscious mind that you want it to be hearing?
Writing Out Affirmations
For those who have learned what to write and how to state it, self-write is an exceptionally effective way to reprogram. It focuses your attention, makes you think, and gets you actively involved in the process.
Changing the Program
If you want to fix a problem or achieve a goal, you have to fix more than the symptoms – you have to give yourself a complete diet of self-talk covering every facet, and every phase of your life which created the problem, or every area of your thinking which was tying you to the old mental program.
Tape Talk (Audio Affirmations)
Tape talk has some advantages going for it which are as yet unrivalled in the self-development field. The first and most important advantage is that you can listen to tapes about you while you are doing something else. You don’t have to really listen. Your subconscious mind will be busily programming in the positive new information about you whether you are consciously thinking about it or not. Another advantage in using tapes is that they are convenient, so we USE them.
Another important advantage is that tapes, because they are readily available anytime you want to use them, become a coach… to give us immediate external motivation while it programs our sub/minds with a winning script. … it’s like having a personal coach, a best friend, standing at your side, encouraging, motivating, uplifting, believing, and pushing you forward.
It makes no difference what you do for a living, what your educational background is, what your problems may be or what your goals are. It doesn’t matter whether you have succeeded or failed in the past. Self-talk works the same for everyone. The workings of the human brain are completely indifferent to your station in life. Anyone can use self-talk and benefit from its results.
Goals and Self-Talk
Imagine setting worthwhile goals – and then fuelling them with the non-stop energy of self-talk. You could achieve them without it perhaps, but the road would be harder. Five life to your dreams, give strength to your visions, give light to your path. Grant your journey the assurance of a safe arrival. Set your goals, work at achieving them, and talk to yourself every day along the way.
Reprogramming the Mind
We have learned that what we put into our brains is what we will get back out. We also have learned that the subconscious mind is a sponge – it will believe anything you tell it – it will even believe a lie – if you tell it often enough and strongly enough. The brain makes no moral judgments, it simply accepts what you tell it… It makes no difference whether the things you have told yourself or believed about yourself in the past were true or not. The brain doesn’t care!
Most of our average, habit-formed everyday self-talk is the kind that we don’t even notice. It is the kind that we say to ourselves silently, often without words. Much of our self-talk is made up of quiet nudges of self-doubt, the unspoken fears of little or grand failures, and the nagging discomfort of knowing that things aren’t right.
The definition of self-talk can be simple stated: self-talk is a way to override our past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with conscious, positive new directions.
With self-talk we have a way to give new directions to our subconscious minds 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 every part of us that we would like to improve. The Self-Talk statements paint a new internal picture of ourselves as we would most like to be.
Self-write is the kind of self-talk that you write out, word for word, for yourself. It is phrased in specific statements which deal directly with the most important new instructions you want to deliver to your subconscious mind.
Most motivation simply doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stay with you. Popular lecturers and speakers, dynamic orators, enlightening the faithful with the contagious zeal of the greatest Sunday morning sermons, captivate, charm, cajole, and convince their listeners of their ultimate potential. They fascinate, enrapture, entertain, and enchant. They do what they came there to do; they motivate. But there is a problem with that kind of motivation; it is external and it does not last.
It takes more than a rousing speech to erase and replace those internal programs which tell us we should know better than to suddenly believe that we are powerful champions of success. Lasting motivation takes more than the single reading of a book, getting an occasional talk from the supervisor or manager, or the encouragement of a friend.
There are, of course, many kinds of external motivation which look nothing like a motivational rally or pep talk. In fact, most of the motivation we receive is far less obvious. We rely on friends, books, family, luck, problems, achievements and social pressure to tell us what to do and to keep us doing it.
By not taking responsibility for our own thoughts, we leave our minds open to the whims of others. As individuals, we deserve better – we are capable of exerting more control over ourselves, our own minds, individually, than any outside control or influence which anyone else could possibly have over us.
There is an energy which can create either motion or immobility in our lives. It is an energy which comes to us in the form of emotions; these are our motivators and our demotivators. They set us in motion – or they stop us in our tracks.
Since our emotions are our own motivators, the emotion must be changed or redirected before the motivation can take place.
Short quotes worth noting:
Leading behavioral researches have told us that as much as 75% of everything we think is negative, counter-productive and works against us.
The more you think about anything in a certain way, the more you will believe that THAT is how it really is.
If you combined the best of all the self-help and self-improvement teachings available to us, it is clear they have given us most of the “keys to success”.
You were born with everything you needed to live your life in a most exceptional and worthwhile way.
The more energy you put into anything, the better the chance it will work for you.
Because self-talk becomes a self-generating habit – the more you use it, the more you use it – its success will depend more on getting started than on what you decide to use it for first.
Self-talk is a practical way to live our lives by active intent rather than passive acceptance.