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Improving Your Self-Talk

You can take proactive steps to improve your self-talk. Figure 4-2 provides a high-level process for improving your self-talk.

Monitor Your Self-Talk

Monitoring your self-talk requires you to be mindful. You have to “think about what you are thinking about,” as if you are a third person listening to the chatter going on inside your head. Accomplishing this step makes you self-aware.

Table 4-1 explains how to monitor your self-talk.

Edit Your Self-Talk

When you listen to your self-talk, you identify the negative thoughts about yourself that are detrimental to improving your leadership abilities. No one controls your thoughts but you, so you siphon out the poison, replacing the negative with positive.

Your new self-talk, replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts, may not sound like you at first. However, repeating the processes provides your brain with new instructions, and your brain will do what you repeatedly tell it to do (Helmstetter, 2013). If you change the way you think, you will change the way you act. If you learn to think like a leader, you will become a leader.

Self-talk improvement process

Figure 4-2 Self-talk improvement process.

Table 4-1 Monitor Your Self-Talk




Monitor your self-talk

  • • Listen to everything you say or think.
  • • Pay attention to the poisonous things you say about yourself that could work against you.

Listen for thoughts such as:

  • • “I don’t know what to say to senior leaders.”
  • • “No one listens to me.”
  • • “The customer makes me nervous.”
  • • “I will never understand the big


  • • “I never do well working with teams.”
  • • “I am not cut out for leadership.”

Data derived from Helmstetter, S. (2013). The Power of Neuroplasticity, p. 161.

Table 4-2 provides instructions for editing your self-talk.

Table 4-2 Practice Your “Inner Counselor”







  • • When you anticipate that you will say something negative to yourself, something that should not be imprinted into your mind, stop.
  • • Instead of saying the negative phrase, replace it. Think your best and not your worst. Rewrite and reframe.
  • • Choose a positive thought to record in your brain.

Sample self-talk changes:

  • • “No one listens to me” becomes “Everyone respects my point of view.”
  • • “I can’t talk to my senior leaders” becomes “Senior leaders value my input.”
  • • “I’m not comfortable delivering bad news” becomes “Leadership needs to hear the truth and they trust me to deliver it.”
  • • “I don’t understand the customer” becomes “I’m the bridge between the customer and my technical team.”

Data derived from Helmstetter, S. (2013). The Power of Neuroplasticity, p. 162.

Editing alone will not remove all of your negative programming, but it keeps you from getting more of the same.

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