Be Careful What You Say; You May Be Listening.

May 19, 2019

self-talk-designHow you communicate with others is important. How you talk with yourself is critical.

“You can think of self-talk as the inner voice equivalent of sports announcers commenting on a player’s successes or failures on the playing field. Unlike that sports commentary, which athletes never hear while they’re competing, you can actually “hear” what your self-talk is saying. When this is upbeat and self-validating, the results can boost your productivity. However, when the voice is critical and harsh, the effect can be emotionally crippling.”

— Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., writing for Psychology Today

Ever wish you could predict the future? Now that would be a handy SuperPower. You will get a pretty good idea of where your mind is headed—and therefore your life—if you listen to the things you say to yourself. Self-talk is a compelling window into the conversation that goes on, constantly, between your subconscious and conscious minds. This conversation can affirm your strengths, or it can argue for your weaknesses. Because of the Negative Bias phenomenon, discussed in Chapter 8 of my book Ignite your Dormant Superpowers, most of these thoughts will probably be negative.

Let’s say you are at lunch with colleagues from work (in the year 2043) and the conversation moves to the 30th installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. You hated the movie and say so. You point out that the series was dead after the 5th sequel and that by the 30th, and after a hip and two knee replacements, Jack didn’t have to fake his drunken walk, and that pairing him with a 24-year-old love interest smacked of pedophilia. No one at lunch agrees. Most of them think that it was the best since the first installment. Self-talk kicks in:

Well, that was a stupid thing for me to say. I believe what I said, but everyone disagrees, and some even seem angry. If my boss hears of this, she’ll think I have a problem getting along with others. There goes my promotion. I really screwed up this time. Why can’t I just keep my opinions to myself?

By the time you finish with this internal conversation, you feel worse than Jack looks. You run to the kitchen, pop an antidepressant and chase it with a tall glass of wine.

Change the Dialog

The first step in turning your self-talk positive is awareness. Be aware of the conversation going on inside. When the negativity begins to flow—stop it. Silva Mind Control, a self-help and meditation program developed by José Silva in the 1960s, taught that when you hear the negative dialog starting up, you say, “cancel, cancel.” This is a triggering mechanism that tells your subconscious to cut the crap. You can then consciously direct the conversation to the positive—with affirmative self-talk like:

I’m glad I spoke up. That movie sucked. If my colleagues all liked it, fine, but I am welcome to my own opinion.

I am glad that I had the guts to voice my opinion. I’m sure that some of them hated it too but were afraid to say so. Speaking my mind demonstrates that I am an independent thinker, do not fear criticism and have leadership qualities that the company will respect.

Positive self-talk can lift you up, bolster self-confidence and strengthen your self-image. The critical thing to remember is that, even though this is a conversation, both sides are you. You are not just listening to these negative messages; you’re sending them. They are the doubts and fears that reside within your comfort zone.

You Are What You Think About

January 6, 2010

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice… And to make an end is to make a beginning.”  ~ T.S. Elliot

 Aw, it is time once again to put last year to rest and start anew. Once again we have made the long trip around the sun and avoided burning up or hurtling out into frozen space. Yeah! We’re ahead of the game already and the year has barely begun.

 It is also a time when we ruminate about the past year and wonder about the coming year – will it be better, worse, the same?  And as always we have the choice to make these ruminations productive or …not. Here’s a tip, avoid not.

 Here is what “not” looks like: Long, depressing periods thinking about all of the bad luck that came your way last year, the decisions you wish you hadn’t made, the relationships you wish you had avoided, the money you lost, the debt you incurred…. What is wrong with a little cathartic wallowing? Just this, and I’ll quote Emerson. “You become what you think about all day long.” And this is only one of hundreds of quotes from very smart, very successful people that communicate the same message.

 If you focus on everything that went wrong last year, and, if “you become what you think about all day long,” you have become the lead role in Groundhog Day, doomed to repeat, in this case, the same mistakes, the same bad choices, the same “bad luck” year after year after year.

 Don’t get depressed! The “not” is not necessary. We are, after all, intelligent people with aspirations and dreams. Understanding the rules as articulated above by Emerson, you have the free will to CHOOSE not to focus on what is wrong with your life. You can CHOOSE to focus on what is right. Instead of projecting the worst of your life forward, project the best. In his book on raising healthy children, Wayne Dyer suggested that we “catch them doing something right.” By focusing on and commenting on their positive behavior, they tend to repeat that behavior – petting the dog instead of cutting her hair with mommy’s scissors.

 In the arena of personal growth, reviewing last year has only two productive purposes: learning lessons necessary to move forward in a positive manner, and congratulating yourself for everything that you did right. Then, of course, you want to build on your right moves by creating a vision for the coming year. Focus on that vision with passionate certainty and you will have an amazing year.

  Happy New Year!

Be Careful What you Say

August 29, 2008

“Be careful what you say, you might be listening.”  Steve Dickason (1949- we’ll see)

        If someone said this previously, I apologize for the plagiarism.


Ever wish you could predict the future? If the answer is yes, read on.


If you listen to the things you say to yourself, you will get a pretty good idea of where your life is headed. Self-talk is a very powerful form of visualization – one of the ways in which your conscious mind communicates with your subconscious.


Maxwell Maltz (Psycho-cybernetics) referred to the subconscious as a servo-mechanism, tasked with doing everything within its power to bring the world in line with our expectations. One of the ways we communicate expectations is through self-talk. Unfortunately, what we say does not always reflect what we want.


Self-talk is as likely to reflect our fears

as it is to reveal our dreams.


Example: You want to list a very expensive home that a neighbor tells you about to come on the market. But if your mind-chatter is saying: “I have no experience listing homes in that price range.” “I can’t compete with people who list expensive homes for a living.” you are unlikely to prevail or even make the attempt.


Negative self-talk can convince the subconscious to sabotage your efforts: you miss your listing appointment because you accidentally put it in the wrong time slot in your PDA, you get too sick to leave the house, you can’t find your car keys. There are a million ways to not do something and kid yourself that it’s not your fault. Obviously, self-talk can be dangerous: It can also be a powerful tool for growth.


When you detach yourself from self-talk and listen critically, you can predict your future. Better yet, you can control it. Years ago my wife, Cheryl, was a student of Silva Mind Control. She taught me the technique of saying “cancel, cancel” any time I notice negative mind chatter, and then replace the negative statements with positive ones, affirming the desired outcome.


To continue with the previous example, replace the fearful, disempowering beliefs with statements like: “People always respond positively to my marketing proposals” “I know I will do a better job for these sellers than any of my competitors.” “This listing is mine!”


Convinced of this new reality, your subconscious will provide the courage, time, energy and intuitive insights necessary to make it happen. At the presentation you will exude self-confidence, you will be truly present as you listen to the seller’s needs, respond with articulate, cogent and compelling reasons why they should hire you. And, you will have the courage to close for the listing, knowing that it is already yours.


To post comments, questions or your own experiences with self-talk, click on the “comments” prompt below.


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