Personal Development - I Believe I Am Therefore I Can

September 5, 2010

My personal encounter with self talk; the scientific way to talk to yourself

Any book junkie will tell you that the most exciting place to shop for books is a used books bookstore. You can get absolute priceless gems for insulting bargains. So as a shopper, being in a bookstore that sells both used and new books is pretty close to ecstasy (the real one, not the drug).
On the morning of the day of my personal encounter with self-talk I was in my zenith as a shopper having found my way into a bookstore with both used and new books.
Among the titles of used books was one titled 'What to say when you talk to yourself' by Dr Shad Helmstetter, sitting harmlessly there.
I had no idea that in its pages was a complete transformation that would last close to a decade.

As I stood there staring at the title, two thoughts went through my mind in quick succession.
First was a key flashback. You see, I was brought up like a lone child because the sibling ahead of me was ten years my senior. So by the time I was starting to appreciate having siblings, they were all in boarding secondary school. Both my parents had office jobs and we lived in the kind of neighbourhood where you do not just step out of the house to play with the neighbours' kids; you 'plan' a visit.
So I had learned to keep me busy and part of my strategy was to speak to things around me. I spoke to my toys, my food, my bedroom, trees, bugs, whatever. My mother would wear herself out telling me to quit the habit and I had long learned that if I did not want to be mistaken for patient fit for a mental hospital such as the Mathare Mental Hospital in Nairobi, I had better quit.
Back to the bookstore experience, I stood there completely baffled. It was one thing to have my mother disagree with a habit that I figured could cost my reputation, but to actually have someone, sorry a ‘Dr’ write a book to tell me how to do it right? That was totally insane! This doctor is more crazy than I could ever have been I thought.
The second thought that fast replaced that one was, 'no matter how insane it sounds, I have to give it to the guy, it is a totally captivating title. 'I am buying that book; reputation be damned!'
It was with this in mind that I sneakily took up the offer 'buy three get the fourth one free’ so that I could hide the ‘mad’ book under the three. I squirmed as the cashier boldly displayed it for all to see as he (or she, I forget) punched in the titles.
As soon as I was done paying, I dashed out at the speed of light lest someone actually caught me with this ‘naughty’ title. I felt like I had just bought a porn novel, but I was elated. That night under the covers, well I still thought it was a book for loonies you see, I had my first encounter with a topic that totally changed the course of my life – self talk.
Within the pages of 'What to say when you talk to yourself' by Dr Shad Helmstetter, I had my first encounter with the scientific implications of 'talking to yourself'.

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