The truth about self-talk
Ever wonder why we do the things we do or say, or how outside influences cause us to believe certain things and take a specific action? I interviewed Ph.D., Dr. Shad Helmstetter, who has studied the effects on the brain from mental programming caused by the environment one lives in and the words of and influences of that environment.
Evan: Were our brains being
Dr. Shad: Yes, it is. Here’s how it works. At the moment we are born, every message we receive, everything we hear, everything we see, everything we perceive in any way, every message is recorded in the area of the brain we call the subconscious mind.
The brain is created to record and store messages.
Repetition is the key thing here. Programming happens when the brain gets repetitive messages. When that happens, then we end up living out those programs.
The part of the brain that stores all of theses messages we get don’t know the difference between something true or false, right or wrong, bad or good, positive or negative. The purpose of our brain is to store that information. We then act on the strongest programs as though they’re true.
Why we think the way we do.
The challenge with that, it’s been estimated that during the first 18 years of your life, if you grew up in a reasonably positive home, we are told no or what we can’t do or won’t work or what we won’t be good at. We are told no, more than 148,000 times. Those messages were repeated and ended up being what wired into our brain as truth.
So our parents, our friends, people at school, our teachers, television, video games, the world around us is feeding us programs all of the time and our brain is designed to listen to those programs because it’s trying to alert us. It’s trying to gather the information and keep us safe. Here we are today and what we think and what we believe in, what we think about ourselves and the world around us is the result of our programs.
Evan: If I look at my life, and I don’t like the way it looks or the results of the programs in my life, how do I change it?
Dr. Shad: What we believe about ourselves comes from our programs. Negative self-talk is when you give yourself more of those harmful kinds of programs. Positive self-talk is when you decide I’m taking control, and I choose to change myself. I’m going to give myself back the programs that I deserve to have in the first place, and when you do, that’s one of the most foundational and most important levels of being in charge and taking back control of your life from the programs you’ve got that are working against you.
Evan: How do you do that, though?
Dr. Shad: Think of it this way. Your self-talk is a language. It’s the language you learn to speak to yourself, consciously and unconsciously. It’s the language that you express yourself and to the world. In my career, I became a linguist, A Spanish English interpreter for the U.S government in Cuba, and I know the best way to learn a new language is by listening to it. That’s how we learned our first language. As children, we learn most of our language by having it around us in the background. I understood language and how to learn a language. That’s when I began to research the field of self-talk.
I thought if self-talk is a language and it’s a language that’s working against us, then what we need to do is give ourselves a new language. The best way to do that would be to listen to it. Play it in the background for 5, 10, 15 minutes a day.
Let’s say each morning while you’re getting ready; you begin to become mindful and aware of your current self-talk. Surprisingly, even though it took you 20, 30, 40 years to learn the old language, the brain changes pretty rapidly and begins to wire in the new messages starting in about three weeks or four weeks. So we’re fortunate. If you want to rewire your brain, you can. Listening is the best way to be mindful and then to learn that correct kind of self-talk that will move you forward instead of hold you back.
By. Evan Herrman