What to say when you talk to yourself (book review)

In this article, we will write a short review of Shad Helmstetter’s book What to say when you talk to yourself. We will also give you six tips on how to talk better to yourself. 

What to say when you talk to yourself, by Shad Helmstetter

We have all heard about what life can offer: many opportunities, fulfilling dreams, the chance to live each day with joy and success.

Have you ever wondered why things don’t happen that way?

Do we still have control over life?

And if so, then why don’t we have what we want? What’s stopping us?

There are many books that give us the answer. Even more answers.

According to them, with all of us who read them, we should become the most successful people.

And if there are so many paths to success, so detailed and divided in books, then why don’t many of those who read them struggle with helplessness?

We all listened to motivational speeches and felt full of progress for only a few tens of minutes, and then we passed.

The problem was not with speech. There are many books with ideas that should work and could work, but the problem is with us, with the negative programming we already have. 

Shad Helmstetter talks about negative programming in “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.” 

But where does the negative programming come from? According to the author, it comes from most of the speeches our parents gave us.

From their encouragement and rebuke. The voice that children hear in their minds is often the voice of their parents. 

Remember how many times in your life (especially as a child) your parents told you that you can do something.

And how many times have they told you you can’t do something? 

Many times we have been told “no” rather than “yes”. 

The strange part is that this negative programming from parents and relatives was not with bad intentions.

On the contrary, they say “no” in order to protect us from getting hurt. 

With every word we were told, with every passing year our programming was strengthened.

Especially since repetition is in itself a convincing argument. That’s how our beliefs were created.

And we have conformed to our beliefs.

We like to believe that we have free will, but all, ALL of our actions are in accordance with our beliefs.

Except for the situations in which we act under gun pressure, but these are very few in normal life.

And what would be the solution? According to “What to say when you talk to yourself” the solution is – reprogramming.

Mental reprogramming with a new image, a successful one.

What to say when you talk to yourself (book review)

The main idea

None of all the successful philosophies, like “how to make more money“, “how to be happy“, “how to have better relationships with your partner“, “how to find a partner“, so nothing works until you don’t make a change inside, in order the outside as well. 

Because what you have, or rather, what you do not have –  is a consequence of what you have written in your mind.

What the motivational literature tells us:

1. Believe in yourself

2. Set your priorities

3. Be responsible for what you do

4. Create your future

5. Focus on what you want

6. Learn to visualize the result of your actions

7. Don’t let anyone control you

8. Be creative

9. Think on a large scale

10. Control your stress

11. Be aggressive, but assertive

12. Think positive

13. Money is good and will come to you

14. Be strong, but show affection to those around you

All these and many more were included in tons of materials and not scrap, but books sold and read by many people.

Has the percentage of happy and successful people increased much after their assimilation? Really?

Because, without reading anything, there are many who simply find the way to success.

Why? Because everything starts from the mind. 

In both cases, from the programming, i.e from the set of directions, rules and commands recorded from age zero to the present moment that dictates our own attitude and behaviour.

What Shad Helmstetter  tells us:

How can we figure out the principles and rules that make up the program we operate?

More than simple: following the inner dialogue/monologue. That’s the truth.

These are the thoughts that go through our minds, often unnoticed or far too well known to take them into account.

At first, it is harder to realize the negativity of your own inner speech, but be careful of those close to you who talk about themselves and what is happening to them.

You will see how often they discredit, criticize, accuse and are dissatisfied with what they have done. 

Then pay attention to yourself: how many times a day you praise your successes (no matter how small) and how many times you criticize your mistakes (no matter how small). 

Most of the things you say about yourself are repeated many times and they become beliefs that guide your life.

Everything you say about yourself becomes a directive for the subconscious mind, so make sure that every time you say something bad about yourself, you redirect your thoughts.

Here are some classic examples of negative inner conversations:

  • I do not have a good memory.
  • This will be one of the unlucky days.
  • There is no point!
  • I’m so incompetent!
  • I just have no imagination.
  • I never have enough money.
  • This stuff always annoys me.
  • I’m just not lucky.
  • I’m not a born salesman.
  • I hate my job!

Many of us program and reprogram daily with these ideas, which, through repetition and conviction in utterance or thinking, become beliefs that determine our lives.

Who directly helps to create the programs we act on? 

First of all, the parents, that is, those people in whose words we have the greatest trust.

Even the most loving parents have told their children “you are not careful enough“, “you are never ready on time” or other statements, without thinking for a moment that this contributes to the negative programming of their child. 

They considered them to be constructive. And, in turn, they perpetuated the way they were treated by their parents.

But we can break the circle. We can come to understand that what happens inside will materialize outside.

The subconscious is that car that never sleeps. It is always careful to send messages to the outside world so that it fulfils what you set out to do. 

How do you talk to yourself?

At the root of unhappiness and self-doubt is the way we talk to ourselves.

The way you talk to yourself in your mind dictates the way you feel, the way you act, and often the way others look at you.

Every day, we are in a permanent dialogue with ourselves. And most of the time, without realizing it, we talk ugly, disrespectful or even hateful.

If you said out loud what you think about yourself sometimes, you would probably be shocked by what you hear.

Therefore, the secret of happiness does not come from the outside, but from inside you and you will discover it only when you change the way you interact with yourself.

The words we choose have a powerful effect on the way we see the world and ourselves.

Seemingly simple statements, such as “I’m not feeling well today” or more serious ones like “I can’t do anything right” affect our day just as dark clouds affect a clear day.

In order to enjoy life, to see the real opportunities it offers you, you have to give up the negative dialogue with yourself, to replace the negative statements with some full of compassion, sincerity and affection. 

By doing this, you will radically change your life. You will have more confidence in yourself, you will reduce stress and anxiety and you will better understand your feelings and those of others.

It is not easy to make such a change. It takes time and exercise.

6 things you should never say to yourself again

Here are six common negative phrases that people say to themselves, but also the alternatives that should be replaced:

  1.  Instead of saying, “I’m an idiot,”  you should say “I don’t understand this now

This is an expression that people often say to themselves, according to specialist Cynthia Kane, a meditation and mindfulness instructor.

“I am” in association with a negative description does nothing but indicate a permanent state in our minds. 

You will not get anywhere with such a way of speaking and you will not have the opportunity to develop.

Every time you say such an unrealistic description, you make it part of you. If you repeat this often enough, you will come to believe it. 

And the problem is that then you can’t afford to be more than that.

But if you replace such a description with a relative language such as “I don’t understand this now” or “I’m misbehaving now,” you leave room for change and improvement.

  1. Instead of saying “I should have been/to do/get this by now“, you should say “I could have been/done/got this now but I choose to do something else instead”

When we do not live up to our expectations of ourselves, the harshest words we know go towards oneself. 

Think about the way you talk in your mind when you fail to do something you set out to do.

This type of negative thinking implies the idea that what you are now is not good enough.

You can change the approach if you replace “I should have” with “I could”: “I could have been married so far, but I choose to focus on my career” or “I could have my home by now, but I choose to invest in my development ”.

  1.  Instead of saying “It’s all my fault” you should say  “I had a role in this situation and I am responsible only for my decisions and actions

Such a negative dialogue with yourself occurs when you take responsibility for the actions of others or for an entire situation.

You think that what others do or say is a reaction to you. 

The truth is that others are responsible for their words and deeds just as you are responsible for your own.

The goal is to observe the situation objectively and to understand the role you had, but without taking over the entire burden on you.

  1. Instead of saying “I should never have done…” you should say “If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have learned/met/discovered, etc.”

Regret often generates a negative dialogue with yourself.

It appears when you look at the past, at the things you have done or not done, and judge yourself harshly for your actions or lack thereof.

The goal is to look for unexpected benefits, even if it takes years to discover them. 

  1. Instead of saying “They think I’m a loser” you should say “Their actions mean nothing to me

When you assume that you know what others think or feel about you, you imagine that their thoughts and feelings are negative and you judge yourself harshly because of it.

In other words, you agree with the negative assumptions you make, even if they have no real basis.

Our assumptions most often reflect what we think about ourselves, less what others think.

The secret to changing this negative language is to focus on the facts and reality in any situation and to carefully observe any negative story that your mind creates around that situation. 

You have no way of knowing what someone thinks or feels; focus on what you know to be true!

  1. Instead of saying, “Why can’t I be like them?” you should say “They are doing very well; there is enough good in the world for all of us

When we compare ourselves with others, we see something they have or a trait they have and we judge ourselves from an inferior position, so we consider that we are not at their level.

Specialist Cynthia Kane calls this habit “comparing your interior to someone else’s exterior.”

In other words, if you compare the way you feel inside with the way a person looks outside, you will always be at a disadvantage. 

By comparing ourselves to others, we do nothing but cause our suffering.

And this habit has its roots in society’s ideas about what is important.

Who defines what attractiveness is? How can intelligence be defined?

Every time you realize that you are comparing yourself to someone, change your approach and try to discover what are the differences between you and that person and what will make each of you unique. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.


In this article, I wrote a short review of Shad Helmstetter’s book What to say when you talk to yourself.

We also gave you six tips on how to talk better to yourself and how to replace negative thinking and talking. 

Pay attention to those close to you and how they are talking about themselves. 

Then pay attention to yourself: how many times a day you praise your successes (no matter how small) and how many times you criticize your mistakes (no matter how small). 

Most of the things you say about yourself are repeated many times and they become beliefs that guide your life.

If you have any questions or you have read Shad Helmstetter’s book What to say when you talk to yourself and you’d like to share your insights, we’d be more than happy!


What to say when you talk to yourself, by Shad Helmstetter

Cynthiakane.com website.