The Five Levels of Self-Talk
What is Self-Talk, and how does it work? The definition of Self-Talk can be simply stated: Self-Talk is a way to override our past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with conscious, positive new directions. Self-Talk is a practical way to live our lives by active intent rather than by passive acceptance.
With Self-Talk, we have a way to give new directions to our subconscious minds by talking to ourselves in a different way, consciously reprogramming our internal control centers with words and statements which are more effective, more helpful to every part of us that we would like to improve. The Self-Talk statements paint a new internal picture of ourselves as we would most like to be.
LEVEL 1 SELF-TALK— The Level of Negative Acceptance (“I can’t…”)
The five levels of self-talk start at the lowest, least beneficial level. At the bottom of the list—and the most harmful self-talk we can use—is Level 1, the level of Negative Acceptance. That is self-talk by which you say something bad or negative about yourself, and you accept it.
I just don’t have the energy I used to,” “I could never do that,” “I just can’t seem to lose weight,” “Well…I just don’t know…,” “Today’s just not my day,” and “I just can’t!” are typical of the kinds of doubts, fears, misgivings, and hesitations we program ourselves with when we say any Level 1 self-talk phrase to ourselves, out loud, silently, or to someone else. Remember, the subconscious mind is listening and waiting for our instructions, and it doesn’t care what we tell it; it just does it!
Level 1 self-talk represents everything from our simplest misgivings to the worst fears we have about ourselves. It is our way of telling ourselves to hesitate, question our capabilities, and accept less than we know we could have done, had we only given ourselves a chance. It is our way of timidly hiding in the shadows instead of boldly thriving in the sunshine.
Imagine going through your life using that kind of self-talk on yourself! When you think about it, why would anyone (once they know) want to use any self-talk that would program them to fail or do less than they could? Yet, that is exactly what most of us have done.
It makes no difference how harmless the words seem at the time, they are the backbone of everything which works against us and stands in our way. Rid yourself of the negative “I can’ts” of Level 1 self-talk, and you will have rid yourself of your greatest foe.
LEVEL 2 SELF-TALK— The Level Of Recognition and Need To Change (“I need to… I should…”)
This level is beguiling. On the surface it looks as though it should work for us. But instead, it works against us! In this level of self-talk we are stating to ourselves and to others our recognition of our need to change.
“I really should try to get to work on time.” “I’ve just got to lose some weight!” “I’ve got to do something about that!” “I really ought to take more time with my kids.” “I know I should study harder.” Anytime you hear yourself telling yourself any Level 2 self-talk, stop for a moment and complete the sentence—finish, out loud, the program you are actually directing to your subconscious mind.
Your self-talk then becomes, “I’d really like to earn more income…but I’m not! I wish I could… but I can’t! I know I need to take care of that…but I’m not taking care of it. I ought to call home more often…but I don’t. I’d like things to work out better…but they won’t!”
Those are the directives we unwittingly give to ourselves. Those are the seemingly innocent but exceptionally effective programs we feed to the most powerful control center known to man. Instead of giving birth to dreams and accomplishment, Level 2 self-talk creates guilt, disappointment, and an acceptance of our own self-imagined inadequacies. Is that good programming? No, it is not. Will it help us succeed? No, it will not.
LEVEL 3 SELF-TALK— The Level of Decision to Change (“I never…I no longer…”)
Level 3 Self-Talk is the first level of Self-Talk that works for you instead of against you. In this level you recognize the need to change, but also you make the decision to do something about it—and you state the decision in the “present tense”—as though the change has already taken place.
Level 3 is characterized by the words, “I never,” or “I no longer.” In this level you say, “I no longer have a problem dealing with people at work.” “I never eat more than I should.” “I never get upset in traffic.” “I no longer put off doing anything I want to get done.”
When you move to Level 3, you are automatically beginning to rephrase old negative “cannots,” putting them behind you, and stating them in a positive new way that tells your subconscious mind to wake up, get moving, and make the change.
LEVEL 4 SELF-TALK— The Level of The Better You (“I am”)
Level 4 is the kind of Self-Talk that has been used the least and is needed most. It is at this level that you are painting a fully completed new picture of yourself, the way you really wanted to be, handing it to your subconscious, and saying, “This is the “me” I want you to create!
Level 4 Self-Talk is characterized by the words, “I am…” “I am organized and in control of my life. I am a winner! I am healthy, energetic, enthusiastic, and I’m going for it! Nothing can stop me now. I like who I am. I am in tune, on top, and in touch. I have determination, drive, and self-belief. I am living the life I choose, and I choose what’s right!”
Level 4 Self-Talk is the positive Self-Talk that is the opposite of Level 1. It replaces helpless “cannots” with vibrant “Yes, I cans!” Level 4 Self-Talk inspires, encourages, urges, and implores. It tugs at our hearts, touches our hopes, and paints in the pictures that color our dreams. It excites, demands, and pushes us forward. It strengthens the armor of our spirit and hardens the steel of our determination. This is the Self-Talk that challenges us to do battle with our fears and end up the victor. It is the Self-Talk which stirs us to action, fills us up with self-belief, and plants our feet firmly on the solid bedrock of success.
Name the adversary, state the problem, and you can find the self-talk that created it. But for every word of negative self-talk that has ever been uttered, there is the right kind of Self-Talk to counter it, reprogram, fix the problem, and make it right.
LEVEL 5 SELF-TALK— The Level of Universal Affirmation (“It is…”)
Often referred to just as “affirmations,” this level of Self-Talk has been used for many years. It is Self-Talk that often speaks of a higher level of spirit, or consciousness, than we might typically think about when we’re dealing with the demands of our day-to-day life.
Level 5 Self-Talk may sound something like this: “I am one with the true, healthy, qualities of my life, and they are one with me. Life, to me, is a place of joy…serenity…peace…and healthy well-being.”
This level of Self-Talk can be beautiful, almost poetic, and it is generally life-affirming, i.e., “Life is uplifting and fulfilling in body, mind and spirit.” Rather than identify specific problems or goals to target, Level 5 Self-Talk takes a broader perspective of life, as if seeing it from a higher overview.
It is still important, however, that we take care today of the things that are required today. So begin to use the Self-Talk of Level 3 and Level 4. If it’s right, Level 5 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 make sure each day is working at its best.