“I’m an idiot!”


“I’m a moron!”


Up until a couple months ago, those were probably the two most common phrases I said to myself when I made a mistake. Despite my journey towards greater self-compassion (described here), I still held on to the habit of self-criticism.


But what I learned from Shad Helmstetter, PhD, in his book What to Say When You Talk to Yourself is this:


What you say to yourself matters!


Let me repeat that:


What you say to yourself matters!


The harmful and derogatory things we say to ourselves aren’t just overtly negative labels and names. It’s a pattern of shame that identifies us as less than enough. It’s the narrative that repeatedly plays in your head:


– I just can’t get organized.


– I just can’t lose weight.


– I can’t get that job.


– I don’t have any close friends.


– My marriage isn’t happy.

– I don’t like myself.


– I’m just not successful.


– Nobody cares about what I think.


– I never reach my goals.


Do any of these sound familiar? What negative programs have you engrained in your mind? 


I liked a lot of things about this book. But the one thing I liked the most is how he addressed a question that I’ve asked myself often (as I wrote about here):


When you come across a new approach to life, how do you make permanent change? How do you keep from sliding back into self-destructive patterns that stifle growth and development?


His answer was simple. Each time we have failed in the past, it reinforces the negative self talk that we are bound to fail again. Despite our excitement for the future, the negative programming continues to drag us down. He believes that positive self-talk is the key to reversing this cycle.


Through years of research and personal experience, Dr. Helmstetter documents the benefits he’s seen working to improve positive self-talk.


The book isn’t long. It’s a little repetitive. At times it seems naive. His promise to change your life through the simple act of listening to someone else speak positively about your life feels, at times,  too good to be true….


But in the end, it seemed worth the try. He promises that fifteen minutes per day for ninety days of positive self talk will change your life. Seems like a small investment. I downloaded the app and I haven’t missed a day yet this year. What I’ve noticed so far:


I’ve stopped calling myself names.


I’ve been able to start making some of the health changes I’ve unsuccessfully been trying to make for the past few years.


I’m more positive.
I’m kinder to myself.
And I love that! Because we all need a bigger dose of self-compassion.


One more thing I love his Dr Helmstetter’s passion for lifting others as he’s been at this for over fifty years. Fifty years! Check out his website to learn more about positive self-talk. And let me know if you’re joining me in the quest to speak better to yourself!