What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter – Book Summary

What to Say When You Talk to Yourself Book Summary

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This book talks about five big ideas to remember.
  1. Programming
  2. Self-talk
  3. Two Yous
  4. Shower Talk
  5. Challenges


  • First big idea is the fact that the quality of our lives is going to be determined by the quality of our programming. So how we talk to ourselves is largely determined by the underlying programming we have.
  • Most of us are running old bad programs right now and shad talks about the fact, think of the computer, computers are very cool and new in 1982. He says you have a monitor which is kind of how you show up in life. You have your keyboard which is kind of how you control the inputs. Then you have a floppy disk is where the program is where the software is. So you need to use the keyboard, your thoughts, behaviors to program your software properly because if you’ve got bad programming, it’s going to go through everything and your life and your life is not going to be what you want it to be.
  • So to upgrade that metaphor, our operating system, imagine that you’re trying to run your life on an operating system that was designed in 1982. You’re going to have a tough time doing a whole heck of a lot with a modern computer on the software that was created 30 years ago.
  • But most of us live our lives, we have a hand-me-down program and we’ve been conditioned from a very young age to relate to the world in certain ways and we need to go in and replace that operating system.
  • The programming drives your beliefs, which drives your attitudes, which drives your emotions, which drives your behaviors so if you want to change all about you get to start with your programming and the best way to do that is via your self-talk.


  • Shad says there are five levels of self-talk.
  • The first level of self talk is negative, it’s things like god I’m an idiot, I’m so tired or I just can’t do that, I used to be able to do that I can’t now. He says, unfortunately, most people operate predominantly at a level one of self-talk, which is negative. Your life is going to be suboptimal if that’s the programming. He says you need to identify that.
  • The second level is a little bit better but it’s still negative which is “I should not do that”, “I shouldn’t smoke”. You’re at least making a little bit of progress there but you identified the problem but you didn’t identify a solution.
  • The third level is a little better than the second which is “I’m never going to smoke again”, “I’m not going to procrastinate anymore”. You’re making a declaration in a more positive direction than thinking you’re just a procrastinator.
  • The fourth level is a positive declaration of who you aspire to be. I am the type of person who does what I say I’m going to do.
  • The level five is more mystical and spiritual and you’re connected to the universe.
  • Shad says to focus on level 4, let level 5 be a byproduct. Because if you don’t have a good relationship with yourself, you don’t have the basic fundamentals down, you kind of go in a little ahead of the game to try to connect to the ultimate source.
  • The way to do that is to get healthy on the most basic mundane level. One of the things he does from a practical perspective is to identify the top 10 things you say to yourself that are mostly negative.
  • So for 48 hours listen to what you say to yourself when you are talking to yourself. All of us have issues, make an inventory and then get to work.
  • Identify your negative self-talk and then replace it with positive, affirmative, present tense self-talk. If you feel afraid and worried etc, write down a ton of positive affirmations about who you aspire to be. Read that three times a day.

Two You’s

  • Why should you even care about this stuff whether it’s self-talk or all the other optimal living ideas?
  • He says imagine two versions of you. One version runs on the old programming. You just keep on doing what you’ve been doing. Then imagine that version of you fast forward into the future, then imagine the version of you that’s dialed in the self-talk, that’s dialed in all the other habits that we talked about.
  • Who do you want to bet on? Which one do you think is going to create more happiness, meaning and purpose and all that good stuff in their lives.
  • Of course, the one that’s learned to talk to yourself as powerfully as you can. So get a deep sense of the why and realize there’s so much opportunity to grow if we’re willing to make the courageous decision and do the work to change our lives.

Shower Talk

  • Self-talk is basically affirmative statements from the fourth level of self-talk, “I am this type of person” that we read or we can listen to our recording of ourselves or someone else reading these things, that’s self-talk and the things we repeatedly say to ourselves.
  • Many say that self conversation of which shower talk is one example, where you actually engage in a dialogue with yourself and the reality is you already have all the wisdom you need.
  • “I’m passionate about studying and learning because I see different nuances that basically affirms or unpacks things I already know. But if you and I never read another book or watch another video or did whatever we pretty much already have the wisdom in us to live an extraordinary life.
  • The question is are we tapping into that as frequently as we can. And one way to do that is via self conversation. When you actually get into the shower and you just have this conversation with yourself. 


  • Shad tells us the greatest challenge we’re ever going to have in our lives is to dive in our minds. It’s driving the whole show as we discussed via the programming.
  • That’s the greatest challenge you have is to master your mind and it’s also the greatest gift you can ever give yourself, give anyone is the gift of mastering your own mind.
  • Discipline yourself now to create a life that the future you is going to look back. And say, thank you, you made my life awesome when you decided to change and you recommitted and I wouldn’t be here today without you making those decisions. So this is your biggest challenge to get your mind right.

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