Self Talk Levels I & II
The book, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, by Shad Helmstetter is way more serious than the title implies.
And it has more information than I was looking for. That isn’t a bad thing.
Shad Helmstetter shares his journey to the concept of Self Talk. He documents well his credentials and the process to formulating his levels of Self Talk.
And he has written a book that has been helpful to me. It has concepts that make sense to me and one that notably does not.
I do take exception with one of his premises. But I think there is still value you can take away.
Chapters 1 – 8 lay the foundation. Helmstetter shares his experience and education that led him to the conclusions he shares in the book. His education includes having a degree in behavioral psychology. He tells of investigating numerous self improvement programs. I applaud his thoroughness.
Using his understanding of our brains and how they function he explains why these methods don’t help us long term.
Then he introduces The Five Levels of Self-Talk.
Level I Self Talk – The Level of Negative Acceptance (I can’t . . .)
It sounds like this:
I can’t lose weight.
I can’t quit smoking.
I can’t remember people’s names.
If only I could write the great American novel.
I just don’t have the energy I used to.
I could never do that.
Listen to yourself for the next twenty-four hours. Count how many times you use this kind of language.
When you use this wording you are setting yourself up to repeat the behavior you dislike.
Helmstetter says it is our way of timidly hiding in the shadows instead of boldly thriving in the sunlight.
It seems that when I use this kind of language I am coping out. I am saying this kind of change is just too hard to even try.
Level II Self-Talk – The Level of Recognition, and Need to Change (I need to . . . I should . . .)
Although this language sounds like you are headed toward change, it just isn’t so. You are recognizing the problem but still not moving toward change.
This level will actually work against you, unless it signals to you that change is needed. And if you make the right change!
Level II Self-Talk sounds like this:
I should clean the house . . . [but I won’t.]
I need to balance my checkbook . . . [in my dreams.]
I ought to make phone calls . . . [maybe tomorrow.]
This level is still embracing the negative behavior that defeats you and your goals. It recognizes a problem but unless you embrace a solution, things will continue as they are.
Use the first two levels to identify the problem.
I suggest you keep a pad of paper handy and each time you hear yourself using talk from these two levels jot it down. It won’t take you long to identify what needs to change.
Get your paper out. Have the pen handy. You’ll be ready to take action when I post Levels III and IV.
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