The Power of Self-Talk



power of self-talkTypically on vacation, I love to dive into a good book and read by the pool.  Life isn’t ever typical though when you have an active and busy little one running around.  So instead of heavy reading, I opted for a couple of magazines.


Since I am a huge sports fan, I was reading through an ESPN magazine.  I came across an article about LaVar Ball.  Honestly, I read the article because it was my only reading material at the time in the hot tub.  Otherwise, I would have skipped it since I find him to be a blowhard.


If you’re unfamiliar with him, he’s been in the news recently as the father of NBA prospect, Lonzo Ball.  Lonzo is a projected top draft pick from UCLA.  The reason why his father, LaVar, has garnered fame is due to the outlandish things that he has recently said.  


Some Infamous Quotes

power of self-talkHere’s a sample of some of his soundbites over the past couple of months.


“I’ll tell you right now, he’s [his son, Lonzo’s] better than Steph Curry to me.”


I understand fully supporting your child.  But to say that at 19 years old, Lonzo is better than Steph Curry, who is a two-time MVP and winner of a NBA championship, with the potential to win another one this season, is a bit far-fetched to me.  Not to mention that Steph Curry may be one of the greatest shooters in NBA history.  But it doesn’t stop there.


power of self-talk“Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.”


He can’t be serious.  Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.  LaVar Ball averaged 2.2 points per game at Washington State University during the 1987-1988 season.  Shortly afterwards, he transferred to a Division II school, which is considered a step-down in competition.


During that same 1987-1988 season, Michael Jordan averaged 35 points a game and received the accolade of MVP of the league.


Provocative and Confident 

Clearly LaVar Ball loves to say provocative things and in turn, the news cycle loves him.  It’s not unlike the media’s obsession with the Kardashians or other reality TV stars.  


Even just recently, LaVar introduced his son’s new basketball shoes, which will go on sale for the low low price of $495.  


Okay, who is going to pay that much money for sneakers from someone who hasn’t played a single minute of NBA basketball?  Maybe only sneaker-heads, who think these are limited edition or especially valuable.  I’m not sure the shoes will shoot up in value, but I hope I’m wrong for the sake of whoever buys these!


So I’ve probably convinced most of you that LaVar Ball is a different individual.  But how does this deal with finances?


Words Have Power

During the interview with ESPN, he kept repeating the phrases, “I’m going to speak it into existence,” and “Keep talking about it until it happens.”


power of self-talkBack in February of 2017, LaVar Ball proclaimed that his son was going to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.  He even went so far to say, “My son will only play for the Lakers.”  


At the time, the LA Lakers only had a 30% chance of drafting in the top two picks, and Lonzo was projected to go #2 overall in the NBA draft.  So, the chances were low that they Lakers would realistically draft him.  But, in the end, the Lakers did get the #2 pick overall and will most likely select Lonzo.


Admittedly, that shocked me.  LaVar had the opposite response.  He gloated as he said that he had spoken it into existence.  


So it got me thinking.  Is there anything behind speaking things into existence and talking about something until it finally happens?


What the Experts Say

According to Shad Helmstetter in the book What to Say When You Talk to Yourself,


power of self-talk“The brain simply believes what you tell it most. And what you tell it about you, it will create. It has no choice.”


He goes on to say,  “After examining the philosophies, the theories, and the practiced methods of influencing human behavior, I was shocked to learn the simplicity of that one small fact: You will become what you think about most; your success or failure in anything, large or small, will depend on your programming – what you accept from others, and what you say when you talk to yourself.


It is no longer a success theory; it is a simple but powerful fact. Neither luck nor desire has the slightest thing to do with it. It makes no difference whether we believe it or not. The brain simply believes what you tell it most. And what you tell it about you, it will create. It has no choice.”


First Person Pronoun

power of self-talkAccording to psychologist Ethan Kross, during self-talk, using your name or a first person pronoun such as “you” or “he” may help to control your emotions.  


“What we find,” Kross says, “is that a subtle linguistic shift — shifting from ‘I’ to your own name — can have really powerful self-regulatory effects.”


“We’ve done studies that look at exactly that phenomenon,” says Kross. “And your experience is borne out by our data. It’s almost like you are duping yourself into thinking about you as though you were another person.”


Some Positive Self-Trickery

power of self-talk“When dealing with strong emotions, taking a step back and becoming a detached observer can help,” Kross explains. “It’s very easy for people to advise their friends, yet when it comes to themselves, they have trouble. But people engaging in this process, using their own first name, are distancing themselves from the self, right in the moment, and that helps them perform.”


By speaking positive self-talk, the individual is more likely to achieve their dreams.  As I wrote about before in my post, You Are Your Greatest Enemy, too often we let negative emotions overrun our hopes and dreams.  In turn, we prevent ourselves from reaching our full potential.


power of self-talkSo while I may not buy that LaVar Ball spoke his son’s destiny into existence per se, I do put credence into the encouragement that his son received through positive self-talk.  Because of his father’s abounding support and confidence in him, I believe Lonzo is reaping some tremendous benefits.  I also believe “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).  The same mechanism that can build someone up can tear them down in a moment.  That is some power.


Readers, do you self-talk?  Does your self-talk ever deal with financial goals?  Share your thoughts below.

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.


  1. Positive self talk is not something that comes naturally to me. I think Asian Americans put pressure on being humble to a degree that it’s almost defeating. I’m trying to change that now starting with using my first name first. I was just reading another post from LifeAndMyFinances’s blog entry about the differences in self talk between those who are poor and those who are wealthy and how it would continue to shape the rest of their lives. It’s truly some powerful stuff and I wish my parents would have employed on me like Lonzo. Thank you for the entry MSM 🙂 it made my thinker go around.
    Lily @ The Frugal Gene recently posted…How I Paid Off $20,000 In Student Loans Working Part-Time (Full Version)My Profile

    • Positive self talk doesn’t come naturally to me either. Whenever I think of something positive about myself, I immediately feel a bit guilty and remind myself about my flaws or that I still need to try harder. Being humble, I believe, is a good trait, but when it starts to harm our self-esteem, maybe it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate how modest we really need to be.

      I’m glad you’ve decided to change that pattern. I will try to do the same with my kids as well. =)
      Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…Financial Expectations In Asian FamiliesMy Profile

      • Haha we are too similar. I was thinking I needed to start doing it if I choose to have kids someday. If I can’t find a way to start liking myself, I wouldn’t be a fitting parent.

        Haha I’m glad you understand MSM, yes some people have natural swagger! I’m a bit jealous of that since they tend to be better public speakers too! That’s a money maker feature ya know 😉
        Lily recently posted…Frugal’s Budget – Free Google Sheets Budget TemplateMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Lily!!! I definitely agree that self-talk does not come naturally to me either. It’s definitely a skill set that I’ve had to develop even though both my parents did a really good job of building me up over the years. Some people just have that natural swagger.

  2. Positive thinking or positive self talk has a massive impact on anything you do.

    As a young college student I wanted to drive my car around road race circuits, so I attended classes for a short time (very expensive hobby long in the rearview mirror, pun intended). Do you know what the first thing you are taught in driving a fast car around the track is? Look in the direction you want to turn. Same concept. The brain achieves what it believes.

    There is a fine line between dillusional and a positive attitude. The latter can lead to amazing accomplishments. Comparing myself to Mario Andretti or Warren Buffet would be dillusional. Believing you will be a millionaire and drive around that next race car corner, doable.
    FullTimeFinance recently posted…Declining Bond Price Impact at Maturity Versus Sold TodayMy Profile

      • Great perspective Daniel!!! There’s definitely a fine line between passion and delusional. It’s definitely nice to have some checks and balances along the way 🙂

    • Awesome analogy Full Time Finance!!! I never thought about how much the eyes affect where you want to go. So smart!!! Thanks for the awesome wisdom, like always 🙂

  3. Although it’s not exactly self-talk, I use visualization often to project a positive image of what I’m trying to accomplish. I run a good bit and there are times in long training runs or a marathon where your brain just keeps telling stop. To keep moving, I’ll visualize what the end of the race will look like when I cross the finish line.

    In regards to personal finance, the same visualizations work. I’ll see what a new morning is like when I don’t need to head off to a 9-to-5 job. I’ll see all of the new things I’ll get to experience. Works for me 🙂
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…Should 401(K) Loans Be Permitted?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Mr. Need2Save. I use to do a ton of visualization in high school when I was playing sports. I would visualize pitching to a lineup and what I was going to do and how was going to play. It helped tremendously!!! Awesome reminder!!!

  4. Self talk and affirmations help me a lot. Each morning, I have a notebook of affirmations I go through to get me in the right mindset.

    One point to make, the brain doesn’t understand negatives. If you say “I’m not a loser” the brain registers this as “I’m a loser”. Instead, focus on the positive -> “I’m a social person who asks good, penetrating and thoughtful questions and can hold meaningful conversations.”
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted…Post-Graduation Student Loan Debt StrategiesMy Profile

    • Wow I didn’t realize that about not understanding negatives. That’s incredibly interesting and something that I will definitely need to incorporate. Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
    For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” -Mark 11:23-34

    This is what this post reminds me of.

    Sadly, it sounds like this guy is living vicariously through his poor kid, but I believe too that positive talk can make a difference. I know we’ve seen it work in our life many, many times.

    Too bad this guy seems to be using it to capitalize on his son’s talent. And I totally agree with you about his comment on Michael Jordan. Puhleeze – if this guy were that good, no doubt the scouts would’ve found him. Or else they did and left him in the dust because of his attitude.

    • Laurie thank you so much for pulling out the relevant Bible verses. I’ve read those verses over and over again and now the science behind it is showing how correct this mindset is. Awesome comment Laurie!!!

    • Thanks for sharing My Money Design!!! I definitely agree it’s interesting to see what we can convince ourselves, whether it’s true or not 🙂

  6. When I was young, I came across one simple phrase, “if you think you can, then you can.” From that day on, I follow this mindset whenever I face a challenge. Regardless of how difficult it is, I keep on telling myself that “I can!”

    From a confidence point of view and positive reinforcement to encourage myself to overcome any obstacles, it really help put me in any situation where I am not afraid to face challenges.

    From a personal finance point of view, it allows me to learn new things and experiment with new ideas to increase my wealth. So always think that “you can”.
    Leo T. Ly @ recently posted…26 Must Have Blogging SkillsMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Leo!!! Self confidence is so key to completing your dreams. Definitely something that I have lacked over the years but I’m starting to build it up at this point 🙂

  7. Helmstetter is a new one for me. The book looks full of powerful information. Thanks!
    In meditation the focus is separating yourself from your feelings and thoughts. If “I” am the person thinking the thought, then I can’t BE the thought. If most people were practicing positive self-talk the separation wouldn’t be so necessary.
    Mr. Ball Sr. may be effective but he’s also full of hubris. Positive self talk does not demand that you make grand statements to the world, on behalf of someone else, no less. If I were Lonzo I’d be embarrassed.
    Mrs. Groovy recently posted…Mr. Groovy Talks Some More Trash and Fritz Takes Control of Joe’s Mom’s BasementMy Profile

    • Lonzo has done a good job saying he doesn’t care what his Dad says off the court. He only concentrates what he does on the court. It appears that he has separated himself from his Dad and moved past him. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a separation between the two of them down the road. Sounds like the Dad wants all the credit for what his son has become instead of supporting him.

  8. Like you, I do find father Ball to be somewhat repulsive. He has hyped his son up so much it is going to be really difficult to live up to it. In fact, he will probably be hated by many fans and players in the league before he even takes his first NBA shot just because of his dad.

    I do think there is power in self confidence however. If you think you can’t do something, you are probably right.
    Mr Defined Sight recently posted…Spring 2017 Update- Home MaintenanceMy Profile

    • It’s like LaVar Ball is determined to become the heel, like the WWE, and wants people to hate him in order to sell more merchandise. It’s like when Brian Boswell decide he wanted to people to hate him so he could sell jerseys to people that wanted to burn them 🙂

  9. This is a very refreshing post! I also believe that if you tell something so many times, you will eventually start to believe it to some degree. But oftentimes, we tend to be our worst critic and think negative thoughts about ourselves. while others may not agree.

    I’m not sure if I’ll keep telling Baby FAF he’s the best when he’s not. I will try to balance between positivity and reality. I do think we need both in life. 🙂
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…Financial Expectations In Asian FamiliesMy Profile

    • My wife use to sing to our son and say “You’re the best baby in the world.” Now that we have a 2nd son on the way I noticed that she is toning it down a little bit and saying he’s the best first son in the world 🙂

  10. I talk to myself way too much, honestly, hahaha. But there’s a lot of good in positive self-talk. I don’t do it every day, but if I’m feeling overwhelmed or lacking confidence, I’ll pump myself up with positive self-talk. There’s a lot of power in telling yourself you’ll make something happen.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What’s For Dinner? May 26My Profile

    • I definitely agree that a self-talk motivation speech is definitely the way to go. Especially since we know what makes us tick and really get motivated 🙂

  11. I love this! What an awesome reminder that our words have power. It’s funny that you put it into perspective with a cocky athlete. I don’t want to become arrogant, but I definitely need more positive self-talk in my life. I tend towards the pessimistic side of things, which likely has held me back at times (I didn’t pursue certain careers because of a lack of confidence). I find that when I follow a fake-it-till-you-make-it plan, which goes alongside positive self-talk, I achieve more. Thanks for the post!
    Mrs. COD recently posted…House Hunting in KentuckyMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Mrs. COD!!! I think the key for me is having quiet confidence. I don’t do well when I am a super talker and try to pump myself up and have others notice. I normally do well when I self talk but try to stay humble. Definitely works out much better for me 🙂

  12. There is some truth in the positive power of speaking to itself. IT is some sort of self fulfilment that takes place. Fill your brain with positive thoughts for a positive result, rather than think of all that can go wrong.

    And even better, speak in encouraging, positive words to people, rather than to attack them (I made a stupid mistake this evening in speaking to my wife…)
    Amber tree recently posted…A diversified portfolioMy Profile

    • I definitely agree that words are incredibly powerful and when we switch to positive encouraging words that it’s contagious just like negative words are often times contagious as well. Hope you and the Mrs. are doing better 🙂

  13. You can make a choice each and every day, to either be positive or negative and will that dictate the rest of your day. Like the post and am a firm believer that you control your own path and positive thinking is a great way of doing so.

    I’ve started with a journal not to long ago, which is basically self-talk on paper. It’s a great way of reflecting on your day/week or life and what you will take out of it.

    Also found out I’m not very good at this, as I don’t follow up on it. But hey, have to look at it positive 😉
    Divnomics recently posted…Our First Steps of Investing in the Real Estate MarketMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Divnomics!!! That’s awesome that you started a journal and reflecting on your days/weeks. I think that is incredible and something that I need to get back into. Thanks for the great reminder!!!

  14. Interesting post. I believe that self-talk has power, but I would personally limit the self-talk to myself, unlike LeVar Ball. When it comes to finances, and most other things for that matter, I’m a natural worrier. But telling myself about a positive outcome helps me to block some of that worry and work towards the goal instead.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…8 Summer Travel Tips I Know Will Save You MoneyMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Gary!!! I tend to be overly rational at times which can come across as pessimistic. I definitely need to work more on that 🙂

  15. What an interesting article. I’m from the UK and not a huge sports fan, so I haven’t heard on the article or man you mention, but I do think there’s something in ‘speaking something into reality’.
    He may go about it in a less than pleasant way, but I definitely think all of us could do with more self belief. When I was launching myself as a freelancer with not much experience, I talked it into reality. I said I was a freelancer, I said I had successful projects and a great business before it had fully launched – and I genuinely think that saying that got me to where I am today.

  16. I’m pretty sure this is in the classic “Think and Grow Rich” as well (terrible title, great book)

    But coupled with the positive self-talk is BELIEVING what you tell yourself and taking action. There’s no point in telling yourself you will pass your exams while letting that nagging voice of doubt keep running through your mind and ignoring your studies. Self-talk plus belief leads to successful action.

    It’s always odd that people will accept the power of negative self talk (I’ll never succeed. I’m a failure) but they are so skeptical about the power of positive self-talk (I’m going to ace this interview)
    LadyFIRE recently posted…Yes, you should travel in your 20’s… just not very farMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing LadyFIRE!!! I definitely agree that people are seemingly ok with negative self-talk having the intended outcome but not positive. Great thought!!!

  17. Rob, this is excellent writing. I like the idea (or should I say Dave likes the idea) of using your own name vs. the pronoun “I”. I know when I’m in a situation — whether it be embarrassing or one where I get heated — it’s incredibly hard for me to control my emotions. I believe only God and my wife (who He blessed me with) helped me get better at controlling my emotions. Still, I have moments where I still fail to do so.

    Further, positive self-talk is something I struggle with. I can have my “LaVar Ball” brag sessions (and did a lot more in college and earlier), but it was actually rooted in insecurity. I talked myself up to puff myself up in front of others. When, in reality, I felt (and do still feel at times) inadequate.

    Then again, I didn’t always have people “speaking” positive things into my life. So, some of that is the “tape recorder” that plays in my head. Again, something I believe God through prayer has helped me tremendously with … as have my wife’s “counseling” sessions! Haha 🙂

    Great thoughtful post! Thanks for sharing. I hope you and the family had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
    Dave @ Run The Money recently posted…Life Lessons from the Military: What These Veterans Learned from ServingMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Dave!!! That’s awesome to hear that you enjoyed the post so much. I definitely agree that prayer has helped me out a ton. That gentle reminder at times is amazing to hear.

  18. I don’t know that it follows under the self-talk concept, but my wife and I definitely practice celebrating (even small) wins. Just yesterday for example we took time to point out some small forward progresses we’re making in a few different areas. So rather than always pushing to overcome challenges, we take time to see the positive successes. That helps us a lot.
    Financial Coach Brad recently posted…7 actionable tips to improve your career situationMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Brad!!! That’s awesome that you and wife celebrate your wins. Definitely something that my wife and I need to do more of.

  19. Visualization in sports has definitely helped me in the past. It’s the few time that I’ve been in the “zone” and played well above my skill level that I self visualized.
    I guess a component of that came in the form of talking but to believe speaking something into existence can happen seems the stuff of miracles.
    I would say the 24 hour news media tries to speak opinions and agendas into existence everyday and they probably succeed a fair amount of the time.

    • Hahaha…I didn’t think about the news cycle and the opinions they spout of. How quickly did fake news enter our lexicon along with alternative facts and the agendas that are pushed. Great observation!!!

  20. Interesting read! Positive self-talk is something I struggle with personally as well. One of things we (my husband and I) do is talk about everything. Sometimes we probably talk about it too much, but in a way it acts like positive self-talk. We continually talk about and reinforce our plans and goals. When I was reading your article, exercise came to mind. When it comes to exercising many people stop early or don’t reach their goals because they don’t believe they can do it. With a little bit of positive self-talk and the right mindset those same people could actually achieve and possibly surpass their exercise goals.
    Courtney @ Your Average Dough recently posted…The Best Credit Cards For Travel, Food and MoreMy Profile

    • I actually just got back from the gym. I do a bootcamp and my wife is so good. She is constantly encouraging me to go and probably most important asks me how I did and how I feel afterwards. When I’m feeling like I don’t wanna go she normally reminds me of my words from the previous day and it’s an awesome reminder to get back at it 🙂

  21. This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    This makes a lot of sense when combined with the idea of creating your identity when building habits. Studies have found that it is much easier to quit when you tell yourself “I am not the type of person who smokes” than when you tell yourself “I will not smoke this cigarette.” If you keep telling your brain that you are not a smoker, it is more likely to believe it than if you just keep trying to win the battle one cigarette at a time.
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…An Obligation to Work?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Matt!!! That’s really interesting the long term mindset vs. the short term mindset. It’s amazing how the brain operates!!!

  22. I’ve come across this post in an eerily timely fashion. I just-as in, yesterday- sat down put together a whole fitness/style plan for the coming (Jewish) new year. The ENTIRE time I was writing out my goals, the process, guidelines and rewards, a voice was blathering on in my head “oh, you do this every year. You always fail. This is so stupid. You know you will fail again this time–why are you even bothering?”. And my only response to myself was my go-to phrase: if you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to do it. So if I truly want to be fit and more stylish, then I’ll do whatever it takes. And if I don’t do it, it simply means that I actually want it less.

    But in the meantime, shall do a bit more to smack down the negative voices (or, as we call them, yetzer ha’ra).

    • I have a tendency to have a negative voice in my head as well but I am definitely trying to improve that. I found that when I self-talk and build myself up that I have much better results 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge