Do you talk to yourself? It’s okay, you aren’t crazy if you do. I have whole conversations inside my head. Sometimes, I yell, criticize, and beat myself up.
“There’s no way I can do that!”
“I’m so stupid!”
“I don’t know anything.”
“Everyone will think I’m crazy.”
This is negative self talk…
and it comes from the negative programming we’ve received (and continue to receive) from parents, teachers, co-workers, friends, news, the media, and society in general. All the shouldn’ts, couldn’ts, and can’ts repeated over and over until we believe it, until we are saying it to ourselves. By the time we’re adults (or even as kids) we have a wall of negative self-talk holding us back.
This is what psychologist Dr. Shad Helmstetter talks about in his book What To Say When You Talk To Your Self. Despite there being so much self help and motivational literature out there, little of it works because we have negativity pushing back. And so, we must start at the basics: learning how to learn, or re-programming your mind so that what you learn and implement actually sticks!
- Permanence – “external” solutions are temporary
- Knowledge of how the physiological brain works
- Word-for-word set of directions – reprogramming the subconscious mind
Our negative internal programming keeps us from the very things we want to change! Here’s how our programming affects our lives:
- Programming creates beliefs.
- Beliefs create attitudes.
- Attitudes create feelings.
- Feelings determine actions.
- Actions create results.
If you change your programming, you can change your results! This book provides the very words to tell yourself to break down your negativity wall. When you read the book, know that the first half explains negative self talk and all the ways you’ve learned what you can’t do in your life. The second half teaches you how to change it.
He provides pages of phrases you can use to help yourself. As you use these phrases and learn to use positive self-talk, you will begin to slowly reprogram your mind. If you’ve always had negative thoughts, beliefs, and attitude holding you back, then imagine what positive thoughts, beliefs, and attitude could spur you towards.
Here’s a seven minute video of Dr. Helmstetter explaining self talk:
The Growth Mindset
When you start practicing positive self talk, your first reprogramming is your mindset: from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset. The mindset you approach new endeavors with will be the decider of your success, and a growth mindset will pave the wave for all your future learning. Psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck discovered this “power of our mindset” and wrote about it in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
The book is an interesting read and provides lots of examples to help change your mindset in a number of situations. If you want a shorter version, take twenty minutes to listen to (or read the transcript of) an interview with Carol Dweck on this podcast from the Harvard Business Review.
Afterwards, head to her website and take a test to find out where you are on the mindset spectrum. The website also provides an excellent breakdown of the concept and the steps you can take to achieve a growth mindset:
- Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”
- Recognize that you have a choice.
- Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice. (Self talk!)
- Take the growth mindset action.
That’s all! Two simple concepts that either stop you in your tracks or open a world of possibility. As a quote somewhere on Pinterest said: “Be careful what you say to yourself, you are listening.”
PS: If you are a parent, take ten minutes to listen to Carol Dweck’s Ted Talk. She discusses how to raise children with the growth mindset. There is a transcript as well.
Links Summary (all links open in new tab/window):
Learn more about the book:What to Say When you Talk To Yourself
Dr. Shad Helmstetter’s You Tube Video
Learn more about the book:Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
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