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The 5 Levels of Self-Talk, and Why These 2 Could Be Holding You Back

life & happiness Feb 09, 2019

We all talk to ourselves, either aloud or in our thoughts. In fact, our mental chatter is hard to stop. Sleep is the only time we get a break from it, unless you’re really good at meditation.

For most of us, the words stream on, jumping from one topic to another, mostly unmanaged and unchecked. And the natural tendency of these internal discussion is to spiral downward, into negativity.

According to Shad Helmstetter, author of “What You Say When You Talk To Yourself”, there are five levels of self-talk. The first two are most common, are very destructive, and are the hidden forces that hold most people back. Here’s what they sound like:

Level 1: Negative Acceptance (“I can’t…)

This is the most common and most destructive level of self-talk you can use. It’s easy to spot, and is most often characterized by the words,

“I can’t…”

“If only I could…”

“I wish I could, but I can’t…”

“I just don’t have the energy I used to…”

“I could never do that…”

“Today is just not my day…”

“I just can’t!”

Level 2: The Level of Recognition (“I need to…I should…”)

You would think this level would help us, but in reality, it does not. Level two self-talk is characterized by the words,

“I need to…”

“I ought to…”

“I should…”

“I’d really like to…”

This level of self-talk only creates guilt and disappointment. It is bad programming.

Level 3: The Level of Decision to Change (“I never…I no longer…”)

This is the first level of self-talk that works to help you succeed, not program you subconscious to sabotage your conscious efforts.

Some examples:

“I no longer have a problem talking to strangers.”

“I never eat more than I should.”

“I no longer procrastinate and avoid difficult tasks.”

Level 4: The Level of The Better You (“I am…”)

Many believe this is the most effective form of self-talk one can use. The words “I am” even have divine meaning, and perhaps divine consequences when we use them. "I Am that I Am" is a common English translation of the response God used in the Hebrew Bible when Moses asked for His name.

Some examples:

“I am a powerful and attractive person.”

“I am strong, healthy and energetic.”

“I am a person of high integrity.”

“I am achieving my goals and making progress every day.”

Level 5: The Level of Universal Affirmation (“It is…”)

This level is considered the talk of “oneness with God” and unity of spirit. It is, according to Helmstetter, “…a divine and timeless cosmic affinity which transcends all worldly things and gives meaning to our being.” He goes on to say:

“It is still important, however, that we take care of the things that are required today. So I urge you to begin to use the Self-Talk of level three and four. If it’s right, level five will come in due time. For now, learn the Self-Talk that will get you to work on time, help you fix your family ties, give yourself the self-image you deserve, and get the basic things in this life in order.”

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In Gratitude,


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