How to Talk to Yourself so Your Unconcscious Hears You

Last week on my radio show, “Your Life, Your Relationships”, I had a caller who was so frustrated with his body and his situation that he wanted to ‘break up with himself’. He had reached a place where he was feeling negative about everything in his life and wanted to be more positive. I suggested a particular language intervention for him.

I think I should pass this on to you, along with a few more ways of helping yourself think positively. It does take work to make a practice of using these positive language interventions — and it is well worth the effort.

What follows is a list of what to do to change our most common ways of thinking negatively into more useful thoughts.

  • Avoid the word “not” – The unconscious mind is very literal — and it believes everything you tell it. Unfortunately,  it is incapable of hearing the word “not”. (Don’t believe me? Don’t think of a purple walrus. What just happened? If you’re normal (and don’t know the game), you just thought of a purple walrus. Why? Because you have to make a picture of something in order to eliminate it.) Notice I used the word “avoid”, rather than saying “Don’t use”.
  • Eliminate the word “but” – When you use the word, “but”, you are implying that what came before it is somehow false, or partly false. For example, when you say to a friend, “I like that dress, but the color isn’t great on you” implies that you don’t really like the dress, because when your friend asks you if you like it, “do you like it on me?” is implied.
          It’s much better to use the word “and” – “I like that dress, 
          and the color isn’t great on you” sounds very different, doesn’t it? 
          Eliminate the word, “however”, as well. As my friend, Janet 
          Crawford, says, ‘”However” is just “but” dressed up in a tuxedo.’
  • Avoid the word, “can’t” –  When someone uses the words, “I can’t”, what (s)he usually mean is “I won’t”. It’s not that she can’t come to your dinner party, it’s that she isn’t willing to do whatever is necessary to come. Occasionally, when someone says he can’t, he really is disabled, as is the man in the wheel chair who says, “I can’t run”.

          If you choose not to do something, take responsibility for
          that, and say, “I have other plans” (even if the plans are to stay
          home and watch TV). This implies that the other plans are more

          important for some reason, and that’s okay. It’s okay to make
          choices — that’s life.
  • Avoid the passive voice – “It can’t be done” is just a way of avoiding responsibility; what the speaker probably means is either “I can’t do it” or “I won’t do it”. Plus passive voice is boring and confusing for the listener. If you mean, “I’m not willing to do it” — tell the truth — say that.
  • Avoid the words, “I’ll try” – Right now, put your right foot flat on the floor. Now, try to pick it up. Don’t pick it up, just try to. This is what Yoda meant when he said, “Do or do not… there is no try.” 

         Make a commitment. Yes, you might fail — and you are much
         more likely to succeed than if you just “try”.

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (, who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.