Table of Contents Hide
- What are you telling yourself?
- How Do We Get Our Belief System?
- Letting Go Is Not Easy
- It Starts With Self-Talk
- Your Subconscious Doesn’t Know The Difference
- Sure-Enough Principle
- Self-Reinforcing Cycle
- How to Increase Your Performance
- How Do You Feel About Yourself?
- Increasing Your Expectancy Level
- Identify Your Goal
- We Live a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
- Attitudes Help or Hinder Our Success
- The Primary Function of the Subconscious
- Change Self-Talk Before Changing Actions
- We Move Toward What We Picture
- Forcing Change Creates Failure
- Remember, Your Word is Law
- What Do You Really Want?
- Key Points: Self-Talk – The Best Way to talk to ourselves
Self-Talk – The Best Way to talk to ourselves
What are you telling yourself?
It is a demonstrated fact of life that you and I do not behave under the reality of what we can do but under the reality of what we believe we can do. It stands to reason if we change the way we believe we can change the way we act.
How Do We Get Our Belief System?
Human beings record what they are thinking about. As infants our thoughts were emotions, and so we recorded emotions. Then we began to put pictures with emotion. Then we labeled those pictures with words.
As adults, we now think in one or all of those three-dimensional forms, usually in the form of words first. This is referred to as self-talk. Self-talk is a process by which words trigger pictures that bring about emotions.
Every emotional thought leaves a record in the neuron cell structure of the brain. We do not record what is happening. Rather, we record what we think is happening. It is this record of interpretation that begins to shape our personality. A prime example of how this works can be seen in children from the same family background, that develop different personalities and lifestyles.
It was not what happened to them as children that were recorded, but what they perceived was happening. It was their interpretations that formed their different personalities and attitudes even though they came from the same family background.
One thought alone does not form our self-image. It takes an accumulation of experiences or thoughts to build our self-image. The key to freedom is to control what we think about and our perception of reality as we see it. Other people can hand us opinions about ourselves.
They can tell us how great we are, or they can put us down. That information is not recorded and does not become part of our belief system until we accept it with our thoughts. If we see ourselves or believe ourselves to be a certain way, we will act under that belief, whether it is true or not.
Letting Go Is Not Easy
Whenever we get a strong belief, whenever we think that what we know is the truth, we then lock onto that belief as a defense against conflicting beliefs. We cannot hold conflicting beliefs in our minds without anxiety or distress.
So what we do is gather supportive data and information to prove we are right and not crazy for believing what we believe. This can work against us in seeking out the truth because we operate in accord with the truth as we see it and not as it is.
Sometimes we hold on to opinions, attitudes, and beliefs that no longer serve us. This is why we must examine our beliefs regularly to see where we might be lying to ourselves or blocking out information that may be more relevant. Why don’t we do this? We lock out the truth because we don’t want to be wrong, make a mistake, or feel bad.
It Starts With Self-Talk
Self-talk is the constant conversation we carry on with ourselves, as we perceive what we think, see and hear. It is the three-dimensional form of thought, made up of words, pictures, and emotion. We build and
modify our self-image with our self-talk, using words that trigger pictures that evoke a feeling or an emotion.
Our self-image is an accumulation of all thoughts, attitudes, and opinions we have perceived and stored about ourselves since childhood. It is the subconscious picture that we have been recording for many years. This picture controls how we think and how we perform.
Once we vividly imagine an experience, it is recorded in our subconscious and we are stuck with it until we make a conscious choice to displace it. If you choose to make changes in your self-image, you can use self-talk and visualization to create a new picture that will enact the changes you desire. All meaningful and lasting change starts first in our mind or our imagination and then works its way outward into reality.
Every statement you make affects your subconscious, so it is important to be very careful about what you say about yourself. Remember that other people can hand you their opinions about you, but what you think about yourself is what determines your self-image.
Your Subconscious Doesn’t Know The Difference
The impact of building a positive or negative self-image is powerful because our self-image is stored in the subconscious as reality. Our subconscious believes the information it stores is true whether it is true or not.
If someone calls you stupid, it makes an original recording on your subconscious. Every time you replay the experience of being called stupid, as far as your subconscious is concerned,
it is happening all over again because the subconscious does not recognize the difference between a real or imagined experience.
Each time we replay the same thought, it gets recorded as reality all over again and reinforces the dominant belief – in this case, “I am stupid.” As these thoughts accumulate, they bring about patterns of belief. As we allow these thoughts to build up in our minds, we then act out those beliefs; thus we live a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Our level of expectation, whether it’s of ourselves, another person, a day, a task, or a situation, determines the outcome. Once we lock onto a preconceived notion of how we think things are going to work out, we then go out and create the situation or gather information to make it a reality – and sure enough, we get what we expect. This is called the Sure-Enough Principle. You can see that your self-talk either reinforces an already existing self-image or belief, or it can be used to modify for better or worse, opinions and attitudes that you have about yourself.
My self-image controls how I perform, or my performance reality. I always act as I see myself. I cannot act otherwise. I can try to act otherwise, but I will have to work very hard to override my subconscious picture of reality. I automatically behave like the “me” who is controlled by my picture. What formed the picture in the first place was my self-talk.
Each time I affirm I am a certain way, I record it in my image of reality. I act according to my image of reality automatically, without thinking about it. And after I act like I thought I was supposed to, I talk to myself about it. I continually tell myself, with self-talk, what I just did. I say to myself, “That’s the way I am,” which reinforces the picture. I say,
“I always act this way,” which reaffirms the image, which in turn ensures I will do it the same way next time. This is known as the Self-Reinforcing Cycle.
The Self-Reinforcing Cycle works like this:
- I notice my performance of a task – how I act and how others evaluate my actions.
- I talk to myself about my performance through my self-talk or affirmative statements.
- My self-talk reinforces either a positive or a negative self-image or how I feel about myself.
- How I feel about myself forms a self-image, which is the regulating mechanism, that controls how I perform the next time.
Most people, after they have performed below their level of expectations, or if they anticipated poor performance in their imaginations, reinforce the negative experience with statements such as;
- “There I go again,”
- “That’s just like me,”
- “That’s the way I am,”
- “It happens every time,”
- “This is going to be one of those days”, etc.
Whenever your behavior doesn’t match your self-image, you will say to yourself, “That’s not the way I am,” or “That’s not like me.” These statements will only ensure continued poor performance by reinforcing the poor self-image. The only choice you have is to live up to your picture.
How to Increase Your Performance
We have to learn to cease attacking our self-image at those times when our performance does not live up to our expectations because our negative self-talk will only increase poor performance.
So how do we correct this? The first thing we need to say to ourselves when we are engaged in negative self-talk is, “Stop it!” Then follow up with a statement such as “That’s not like me.” The next phase is the key phrase. Say to yourself, “The next time I will….”
Then make an affirmation of how you are going to do it next time. Shut off the old picture. Shut off the negative movement. Don’t tolerate poor performance from yourself or others, but don’t put yourself or others down by focusing on what is wrong. Just say, “The next time…I will do it this way.” If we are working with others we can say, “The next time I want you to approach the client this way,” or “The next time you will do it like this.”
What you are doing with these statements is giving positive and immediate feedback to your subconscious. Instead of recording the negative picture, you trigger the picture of the performance you want.
The key to reinforcing an already existing positive self-image or modifying your self-image for the better is to visualize what you want your performance to look like the next time and to stop picturing, thinking about and talking about what you are trying to avoid.
When your performance pleases you and you feel good about it, you should use positive self-talk to reinforce the positive picture.
Affirm to yourself,
“That’s the way I am.” “That’s like me.”
Positive self-talk statements are the best way to maintain or build your own self-esteem. They deliberately cancel out the negative put-downs we apply to ourselves or to the opinions other people try to make us accept about ourselves.
How Do You Feel About Yourself?
The size and scope of your goals will increase proportionately with your self-esteem. When you have low self-esteem, you will attract negative influences that will prevent you from reaching your goals.
Take a look at the clients you are dealing with or the relationships in which you are involved. The fact is that you will always associate with people you feel worthy of being with. This includes your friends as well as your clients if you are in business.
Take a look at your material possessions. You draw to yourself that which you feel you are worthy of receiving – the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the home you live in. The total quantity and quality of your life is determined by your self-esteem or self-worth.
What kind of labels are you putting on yourself? Each one of us has dozens, perhaps hundreds of labels we have given ourselves during our lifetime. “I’m a good manager, I’m assertive, shy, warm, friendly, stupid, short-tempered, hard to get along with, lazy or poor.” Because we act as we see ourselves, these labels or opinions govern our behavior. Some of the labels are helpful. But in order to grow and develop, some of the labels need to be changed.
Again, we must be careful how we talk to ourselves. The problem is that whatever self-image we have accepted puts a ceiling on the use of our potential. That ceiling has no relationship to our ability to use our potential.
But we can only act or perform like the person we see ourselves to be. We must deliberately take control of our self-talk, or it will control us. The opinions or labels we have of ourselves cannot be totally erased because they are stored in our subconscious memory, but they can be displaced through self-talk. The new positive message will
then become our dominant opinion. And we always act in accord with our dominant opinion or belief.
The most important reason for changing our image when we are dissatisfied with our performance in a particular area is that our self-image controls our performance. Our behavior is automatic.
Until we change the picture we have of ourselves, we will automatically continue to reenact the same performance. Our self-image regulates the use of our potential.
Any time we move away from our self-image, anxiety and tension will set in, because we are constantly working to act like the self we perceive ourselves to be. Our self-image is what we believe we are capable of doing right now.
Increasing Your Expectancy Level
When we find ourselves being forced – by our own intent or by the situations around us – out of where we feel comfortable, away from where we know we subconsciously belong, anxiety and tension sets in.
We not only have an internal comfort zone or expectancy level that concerns the kind of behavior that’s expected of us, but we have also been programmed as to the kind of environment in which we belong.
We have, for example, a subconscious picture of the kind of car we should be driving, the income we deserve, the restaurants we feel comfortable in, the situations we feel comfortable in, etc.
It is important for us to be aware that whenever we find ourselves straying from that picture, negative tension reminds us to, “Get back where you belong,” forcing us to return to the environment we subconsciously know we belong in. As you can see, this response makes change difficult, or slow, at best.
Every time we find ourselves in an unfamiliar environment, job or social situation, we will come up with logical reasons why we should not participate, why it won’t work, or why we should stay where we are.
The problem is we didn’t deliberately program the kind of environment in which we feel comfortable. Our subconscious just absorbed through observation where we think we should be. The key to change is the ability to visualize ourselves in a different situation, environment, car, job, relationship or career.
Identify Your Goal
Only vivid imagery in the first person, and in the present tense, changes our reality. This will be discussed thoroughly in Chapter 6 – “Program Your Mind for the Best”. But for now, it is necessary only to understand that visualization is not like watching a movie. Only images experienced and identified with in the first person, present tense, change reality.
If we can’t identify with the image, we can’t have it, because it doesn’t register on the subconscious level. If I don’t identify with what I am visualizing, I’m left with the impression that other people can be, have, or do this – but not me. It’s okay for them, but I don’t think I could ever do it.
You must “see” yourself in your picture. Deliberate affirmation or self-talk, combined with visualization, produces the end result. As we continue to do it over and over again, pretty soon our subconscious accepts that it is true for us.
In the beginning, there will be a conflict between where you are or what you have and what you are accepting subconsciously. One of the primary functions of the subconscious, however, is to resolve conflicts between what we are thinking about and what we are experiencing in
our reality. And because our subconscious is creative, it will begin to create what we are thinking about and what we are visualizing.
The real key here is in not trying to be different from your picture. Modify the picture first. Real growth and change begin from the inside out. We must first change the picture in our minds. As we do this, our comfort zone will expand automatically. This becomes our new truth. We then act in accordance with that new truth or belief.
We Live a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
How do you know what your self-image is? Take a look at your actions, your behavior and your performance. Also, ask yourself, “What do I expect of me? Where do I feel out of place?”
If you see yourself as poor, you will unconsciously do things to make yourself lose. When you lose, what do you suppose you say to yourself? “That’s the way I am.” “I always lose out.” “I’ll never have any money.” This reinforces the picture, which causes you to fail again, which causes your self-talk, which reinforces the picture, and so it continues.
People without money feel victimized, but what they don’t understand is that they live a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It has nothing to do with money.
People with winning self-images cause themselves to do things that win. If they lose occasionally, they don’t accept it as their fate. They know that losing is not normal for them. They reject it by saying, “That’s not like me” or “That’s not the way things happen for me” or “The next time I will change this.”
Attitudes Help or Hinder Our Success
Attitudes are extremely important in determining the difference between success and failure. What are attitudes? Attitudes are dominant beliefs. In and of themselves, attitudes are neither positive nor negative.
The evaluation of an attitude is always in relation to our goal. Once we set the goal, an attitude either supports us or keeps us from obtaining the goal. For example, being an introvert in itself is neutral.
However, if your goal were to be a public speaker, such an attitude wouldn’t support you in obtaining your goal.
The attitudes we have developed cause us to seek out or avoid situations. We picked up most of our attitudes without deliberate intent. Most of them were formed unconsciously.
On the other hand, if we have attitudes that cause us to avoid situations, we can make a conscious decision to change them. All we need to do is to make a new affirmation, visualize the end result – what we choose to have as a response – and re-picture ourselves as being a person who has that emotional response.
You can visualize yourself seeking out, or in some cases avoiding, if you choose, a particular action in your daily life. Attitudes allow us to grow or prevent us from growing, depending on how we use them.
The Primary Function of the Subconscious
The subconscious is a system of checks and balances. It always makes sure our image of reality comes true. It works to keep us from going insane. Because our subconscious records our habits of thought, regardless of whether they are good for us or not, we need to begin to evaluate whether we are operating on valid information. Is this information appropriate for our goals today? Is it appropriate for where
we choose to be at this time? In dealing with the world around us, our actions are based on those habits of thought accepted by our subconscious. We need to examine our habits of thought to see if they are relevant to our success, and which ones further our progress toward our goals and which do not.
We will either stay where we are or, through our own deliberate intent, convince ourselves that it’s in our best interest to change. If we choose to change, we must visualize ourselves into that new belief.
Constructive self-talk and imagery takes the ceiling off the use of our preconceived abilities and allows us to grow in a controlled manner without stress, tension and negative feedback.
It should be understood we have an overall self-image as well as a specific self-image for specific areas of our lives. Each self-image is formed in the same manner. The job of my subconscious is to creatively ensure that I am always acting in accord with the truth as I see it. My performance – how I act or behave – is controlled by my self- image.
Change Self-Talk Before Changing Actions
Instead of working on our actions, we want to work on our self- image. How do we go about that? The same way that our self-image was established in the first place – through self-talk. Work on our self- talk begins in any given area we choose to change.
We start to control our self-talk so that when our behavior is other than what we want it to be, we will say to ourselves in some manner, “That’s not the way I am. That’s not like me.” Then make an affirmation as to what “Me” is like, “It’s like me to be a winner.” “It’s like me to be loving.” “It’s like me to be successful.” “It’s like me to outgoing.”
When I do something that is successful, something that in the past would not have been like me, I must then, through my self-talk, reinforce my belief by saying,
- “That’s the way I am.”
- “That’s like the new me.”
- “I am successful,
- easy to get along with, outgoing, etc.”
As I do that, the subconscious records my self-talk. It does not record what is happening; it records my opinion of what is happening. What I imagine to be true is what I record.
We Move Toward What We Picture
We move toward what we picture. We physically, emotionally and psychologically create through activity and movement what we hold as a picture in our minds, whether it is good for us or not. As long as we hold the picture, we are drawn toward that picture. We control our imagery through directed self-talk.
We can image ourselves into new behavior, even though right now it may be opposite to the way we are behaving or acting. Remember though must come before action.
Don’t be concerned about your actions. Only be concerned about your self-talk and mental picture. Make sure they are controlled to bring about the desired end result. As the picture changes, so will your performance.
Our subconscious creative mechanism knows exactly where we are in time and space in relationship to the target, the relationship to where we are right now, and end result we are trying to achieve.
If we get off course, negative feedback will motivate us to stay on course. This stimulates the creative energy and drive to attract people, material things, new books, seminars, or whatever else we need to create the picture in our mind. But the picture must come first. We can’t start without a picture.
This subconscious creative mechanism provides us with a powerful technique for utilizing our creative abilities. Because we move toward what we picture, it is important to control what we are picturing. The goal must be clearly and specifically defined. What are we after? What does it look like? If you cannot describe it, you cannot get it.
Forcing Change Creates Failure
One of the biggest traps we fall into is forcing change, such as trying to discipline ourselves and saying to ourselves, “I have to do this.” “I have to lose weight.” “I have to work harder.” That very push is the subconscious working against the end result.
Any time you tell yourself you
- “have to” do something, it is the job of your subconscious to say,
- “No, you don’t.”
- “You don’t have to do anything.”
- “I’ll get you out of it.”
And with creative avoidance, procrastination or in any way possible, you find a way not to do it. When you say,
“I have to,” you are saying “I have to, but if I had my own way, I would rather be doing something else.” The harder you try to do something, the more you work against your natural subconscious creative mechanism.
When I recognize I can, I choose to or I want to change because it is my idea to become like that, then I have a power around me that most people have chosen to give up.
Once I recognize I am a self-made person both in success and failure and that this success or failure is mine to control, I will stop saying “I have to,” and instead say “I choose to.” I can be as my image tells me I can and move constructively toward that end result with an exciting, magnetic energy and drive.
Remember, Your Word is Law
When you can rely on promises to yourself and to others, you become a powerful person. We are only as strong as our word is strong.
If you give your word to others that you are going to be some place at a particular time, or will call at a particular time, or make this or that change, you must be able to follow through, because every time you don’t keep your word you lose your power.
It is not only your word to others – because you can make excuses – it is also the word you give to yourself when you say you intend to do something. When you give yourself your word to keep your agreements with yourself, you know you can count on yourself.
With that power, that feeling, that belief, there’s not much you cannot do, because you know you make things happen.
It is simply a matter of keeping our minds off what we don’t want and on what we do want. Don’t spend your time imaging and imprinting what you are trying to avoid. Instead of going away from something you don’t want, go toward what you do want.
This is sound psychology. Too often we get caught up in being realistic. “I have always been this way.” “This is the way I behave.” “This is the way I am.” “This is the way things always happen to me.” The best advice I can share with you is never go by past track records. Every moment is a new beginning.
What Do You Really Want?
Successful, high-performance people look at what they want and move toward the end result.
- So what is it that I want?
- We must decide that for ourselves. What makes me a happy person?
- Why do I go to work?
- Why do I go to school?
- Why am I involved in anything?
- What do I want for myself?
What everyone wants in life is to feel good. It is that simple. It is the feeling we are after. We tend to go after things to get the feeling. The material things or events are just an excuse to play the game.
- What is it that turns me on?
- What do I enjoy doing?
This is the key question. Once I know that – and the answer is going to be different for each person – reaching our goal is very easy.
When we are on purpose – doing what we love to do – we will draw the people and circumstances we need to accomplish our goal or purpose.
When you consciously use the tools of self-talk and imagery, you deliberately throw your system out of order. Understand that you will be driven strongly, almost obsessively, into whatever you are affirming and imaging. If you only use the concepts in one area of your life, you will become obsessive about that. Setting goals with an equal proportional balance is the key so that you do not steal from one part of your life to fulfill another.
Start by knowing where you want to go and begin to talk to yourself about it. Self-talk combined with constructive imagery are the most powerful tools you can use to go from where you are right now to where you want to be.
Key Points: Self-Talk – The Best Way to talk to ourselves
What are you telling yourself?
Self-talk is a process by which words trigger pictures that bring about emotions.
The key to freedom is to control what we think about and our perception of reality as we see it.
If you choose to make changes in your self-image, you can use self-talk and visualization to create a new picture that will enact the changes you desire.
This is called the Sure-Enough Principle.
What formed the picture in the first place was my self-talk.
I continually tell myself, with self-talk, what I just did.
I talk to myself about my performance through my self-talk or affirmative statements.
My self-talk reinforces either a positive or a negative self-image or how I feel about myself. When your performance pleases you and you feel good about it, you should use positive self-talk to reinforce the positive picture.
Affirm to yourself,
“That’s the way I am.” “
Positive self-talk statements are the best way to maintain or build your own self-esteem.
The size and scope of your goals will increase proportionately with your self-esteem.
The most important reason for changing our image when we are dissatisfied with our performance in a particular area is that our self-image controls our performance.
Our self-image regulates the use of our potential.
You must “see” yourself in your picture.
Modify the picture first.
We Live a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
How do you know what your self-image is?
What are attitudes?
The evaluation of an attitude is always in relation to our goal.
The same way that our self-image was established in the first place – through self-talk.
Work on our self-talk begins in any given area we choose to change.
Don’t be concerned about your actions.
Only be concerned about your self-talk and mental picture.
Once I recognize I am a self-made person both in success and failure and that this success or failure is mine to control, I will stop saying “I have to,” and instead say “I choose to.”
When you give yourself your word to keep your agreements with yourself, you know you can count on yourself.
When we are on purpose – doing what we love to do – we will draw the people and circumstances we need to accomplish our goal or purpose.
Start by knowing where you want to go and begin to talk to yourself about it.