Book Notes by Abi Noda

What To Say When You Talk To Yourself - by Shad Helmstetter

ISBN: 0722525117
READ: Nov 1, 2013

Critical Summary

After reading several self-improvement books, I realized that I was without a practical method for actually permeating changes in my life. While plenty of books can tell you to live in the present or remove fear from your mind, I struggled with the question of how to take all that good stuff we get inspired by and incorporate into our lives.. What To Say When You Talk To Yourself is apparently my answer — a book on "how to erase and replace past mental programs with healthy, new programs", a "manual for the human mind". While I can't yet say whether or not the methods have been effective for me, content-wise, the book does deliver on its promise. It provides practical "self-talk" exercises for reprogramming your mind by , along with research to back it. One bit of criticism: while I definitely found the content of this book valuable, I felt like a considerable portion of the book was repetitive fluff and self-aggrandizement (eg. at one point the author promotes his own self-talk recordings). Nonetheless, I am glad I read this book.

Kindle location numbers are based off of a total of 3122

Self-talk is a way to override our existing programming by replacing it with conscious, positive new directions.

Most of us have been negatively programmed unintentionally over the natural course of our lives. Leading behavioral researchs have told us that as much as 77% of what we think is negative, counterproductive, and works against us.

This prior programming — our conditioning — affects virtually everything we do. The fact that most of us are programmed poorly has a significant impact on our results.

What if we could reprogram our brains in such a way that we could have an extra helping of self-confidence, double the amount of determination, and twice the amount of belief in the outcome?

We talk to ourselves all of the time. Self-talk may be spoken or unspoken — feelings, impressions, physical responses, etc. Most of our self-talk is unconsious.

Most of our average, habit-formed, everyday self-talk is counter-productive and self-defeating, eg: I can't remember names. I can't seem to get organized. I never know what to say. It's going to be another one of those days! I'm really out of shape. If only I had more time.

The human brain will do anything possible you tell it to do, if you tell it often enough and strongly enough. The subconscious mind doesn't care whether we are telling ourselves we are clumsy or we are well-coordinated. It accepts our programming just as we give it. It will believe anything — even a lie — if you tell it often enough and strongly enough.

Programming => Beliefs => Attitudes => Feelings => Actions => Results

There are two forces of change — external and internal. External forces are all around us — our environment, the media, etc… the constant conditioning of daily living traps us into focusing on social survival — we slowly change not to achieve, but to survive. Internal change is about personal choice. What you deicide to do next will determine what you do next.

Five Levels of self-talk

  1. Negative Acceptance :( - "I can't", "If only I could", "I just can't seem to". Tells us to hesitate, question our capabilities, and accept less than we know we could have done. Seduces us into satisfaction with mediocirty — heart of a "get by" attitude

  2. Recognition and Need to Change :( - "I need to", "I should". Recognizes a problem but doesn't create a solution. eg. "I need to get more organized" implies that "I am not organized" — level 2 self-talk is unspoken negative talk. It creates guilt, dissapointment, and an acceptance of our own self-imagined inadequacies.

  3. Decision to Change :) - "I never", "I no longer" Recognizes a problem and makes the decision to do something about it in the present tense, as though the change has already taken place, eg. "I never get upset in traffic", "I no longer have problems dealing with people at work"

  4. The Better You :) - "I am". Paints a fully completed picture of yourself, telling your subconscious "This is the ME I want you to create", eg. "I am a winner", "I have determination"

  5. Universal Affirmation :) - "It is" Broader, higher-level perspective than level 4, eg "Iam one with the qualities of my life"

Forms of Self-Talk

Categories of Self-Talk

Self-Talk Checklist:

  1. present tense
  2. specific and comprehensive
  3. doesn't create unwanted sideffects
  4. easy to use/recall/recite
  5. personal and honest
  6. practical — don't try to program yourself to achieve the impossible
  7. ambitious — don't sell yourself short; recognize your true potential

Self-talk should be kind, loving, caring, strong, demanding, and determined.


  1. Spend 48 hours consciously listening to your self-talk. Listen to how you respond to problems, react to risks. Also listen to self-talk of others — there is no faster way to convince yourself of how anti-productive negative self-talk can be than watching other people put themselves through it.
  2. Make a list of 10 most prominent negative self-talk that you observed
  3. Create self-talk (starting with self-talk that addresses negative self-talk identified in step 1 — example: l. 2880) and consciously integrate it into your mind and daily routines