Skip to content

What to Say When You Talk to Yourself (by Shad Helmstetter)

The title of this book was intriguing, but when I chose to read it, I wasn’t expecting much. I had picked it up simply because, during my 1982-2022 book challenge, I was desperately looking for a book originally published in 1986 and this fit the criteria.

I was positively surprised by this book. I guess that sometimes when you don’t have expectations, good things can seem even better.

This book is not about making you feel better, but rather about helping you achieve your goals more effectively. So, it doesn’t provide strategies for managing your emotions, but instead focuses on shaping your attitude towards what you want to accomplish.

The author’s belief that we are creatures of habit resonated with me, and I appreciated the idea that when we change our habits, in order to maintain them, we must change our way of thinking as well (i.e. the commentary in our heads). We can do this by substituting our negative self-talk with positive affirmations, and by repeating them regularly.

Helmstetter provided lots of examples of how to do it, how to practically talk to yourself, i.e. which words to use for a specific situation. For example:

Change the words “I wish I had more time“, to the words “I make time and I take time to do what I need to do“.

Now, I wish I had time to travel. I can’t travel, I don’t have enough free time to do it. So, I can tell myself as many times I want that I make time and I take time to travel, but still I wouldn’t actually have time to do it. Saying those words doesn’t magically make things happen. However, I believe those words are powerful when they remind me that, most of the time, I have some choice in where and how I spend my time. This feeds my subconscious and therefore changes my attitude.

One aspect I particularly enjoyed was the short, practical chapters that made the book easy to read. I also appreciated the reasonable advice provided at the end of the book.

I found the book’s focus on individualism to be a bit heavy-handed, but I suppose that is in line with the title and the current cultural emphasis on individualism.

As this book was first published almost 40 years go, it’s not recent so some of the references to technology, such as tapes and cassettes, are dated, but made me smile.

In Conclusion

Overall, I found the book to be a valuable read because it offers insights and practical techniques for improving your self-talk and achieving you goals.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the author is not a medical professional so the book should be viewed as a self-help resource only. If you are facing significant difficulties related to your self-talk, seek help from a professional.

I look forward to reading more by this author, specifically “The Power of Neuroplasticity” as, in line with this read, I am passionate about understanding how the brain works and how we can reshape it.

Title: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself. Powerful New Techniques to Programme Your Potential for Success!
Author: Shad Helmstetter
Year first published: 1986

From Goodreads:

Negative programming prevents individuals from becoming and doing exactly what they want. Any amount of inspirational reading will only provide us with techniques that could work if put into practice. This book explains the principles of self-talk – a unique way of reversing negativity, optimizing outlook, focusing plans and achieving success. The key is in affirming, telling yourself the right things which then reflect in a more positive lifestyle.