This month we’re reading, What to Say When You Talk to Your Self by Shad Helmstetter. I’m enjoying the book so far. In fact, this post could have easily been 30 Big Ideas from What to Say When You Talk to Your Self.
I dialed it back a bit to give you only three of my tastiest takeaways from the first half of the back.
Not familiar with the book? Check out my primer.
Big Idea #1: Change Your Programming, Change Your Life
Imagine that I offered to take you and your family on a fabulous European vacation, all expenses paid. You should also probably imagine that you know and like me. Otherwise, what is wrong with you for accepting a free trip from some blogger you met on the Internet?
As you board our private plane, you overhear the captain say that the on-board computer that flies the plane is programmed wrong. The computer is programmed such that 75% of the directions that will control the plane are the wrong directions.
What would you do?
As Helmstetter points out, the plane would have to either land in the wrong spot, perhaps in the Atlantic Ocean, or it might just crash. Given this prospect, most of us, hopefully all of us, would get off the plane before it took off. Yet we stay on board when the guiding system of our lives gives us bad directions.
“We have been trying to achieve our goals with our own on-board computer pre-programmed to hold us back!” writes Helmstetter.
What is programming?
Excellent question. Programming refers to all the tiny pieces of information that we receive from the world around us. This programming tells us what to do, what to say, what is possible, and generally how to approach every area of our lives.
Some programming is obvious, like comments made directly to us (e.g., our parents tell us that it is not appropriate to sit on the table).
Some programming is not so obvious. It appears in the form of unspoken expectations from others, and thoughts we have about ourselves.
Like the example of the plane with a faulty on-board computer, if your programming gives you bad directions, you can expect to crash.
If you can change your programming, you can change the game.
Big Idea #2: We Don’t Even Recognize Negative Self-Talk
I’m stupid, unattractive, and nobody likes me.
I think we can all agree that someone with any of that rolling around in their head is involved in some pretty heavy negative self-talk. But there are other far more subtle, but just as impactful, phrases that we tell ourselves.
Here are a few examples from the book:
- Nothing ever goes right for me.
- I’m just not creative.
- I don’t have the patience for that.
- I’m just no good at math.
- If only I had more time.
- If only I had more money.
To be honest, some of these don’t seem all that negative to me. They seem like statements of fact. There are certainly things that I just don’t seem to have the patience for, like crocheting. And couldn’t we all use a little more time, and a little more money?
The problem goes back to programming.
“If everything you tell yourself about yourself becomes a directive to your subconscious mind,” writes Helmstetter. “Then any time you make a statement about yourself that is negative you are directing your subconscious mind to make you become the person that you just described…”
It’s time to be more mindful of the thoughts that are creeping through our minds. Even those seemingly innocent thoughts can limit us.
Maybe there is hope for my crocheting skills.
Big Idea #3: Behind Every Action is a Feeling
Helmstetter identifies five steps that control our success or failure. Behavior, what we do or do not do, is the step that most directly controls our levels of achievement.
Helmstetter writes, “How we act, what we do, each moment of each day will determine whether or not we will be successful that moment or that day in anything that we do. The right series of the right actions will always end up making things work better than the wrong series of the wrong actions.”
What makes us take one course of action over another? Why do we sometimes do things that we know put us on the wrong side of success? It has everything to do with our feelings.
Behind every action is a feeling.
If you feel good about your job, you might show up on time, approach new projects with enthusiasm, and effectively engage with your co-workers. If you don’t like your job, you might show up late or not at all, find new projects burdensome, and snarl at anyone who comes within 10 feet of your workspace.
Behind every Behavior is a Feelings.
Behind every Feeling is an Attitude.
Behind every Attitude is a Belief.
Behind every Belief is Programming.
It all goes back to programming, doesn’t it?
Old School Readers: What negative self-talk do you hear people say most often? What are your tips and tricks for keeping things positive?