The Voices in Your Head

You never know where writing inspiration is going to hit.

The other day, I was deep in thought at my favorite coffee shop. The afternoon crowd are all regulars, so when a new person walks in, we all tend to look up from our work.

She had the requisite tattoos and nose ring, but what caught my eye was her T-shirt:

"I do what the voices in my head tell me to do."

I took it on a very surface level and laughed. But you know what? I do what the voices in my head tell me to do. We all do.

Here's what I mean. There's this running dialogue we have going on in our subconscious minds at all times. This self-talk can be positive and move us forward. Or it can be negative and hold us back in some way.

It's rarely neutral.

Let me give you an example.

Recently, I had a long phone conversation with a fairly new copywriter who's having trouble getting started building his business. I heard, "Well, maybe when the economy picks up, businesses will start hiring copywriters again." And, "I can't raise my rates. Money is tight these days." And the kicker, "I think there are just too many copywriters out there."

Hmm … do you hear a recurring theme here?

Contrast that conversation with comments I heard from an up-and-coming copywriting star at Bootcamp last fall: "I have no idea if the recession is still going on. Business is good, and it's getting better all the time!" And, "I've been raising my rates every six months, and no one has objected yet." And my favorite, "Yeah, there are a lot of copywriters out there. But I'm better than most of them and I work harder than most of them."

A great little book called What to Say When You Talk to Yourself describes this concept in detail. Shad Helmstetter wrote it back in 1986, and he's become a renowned and respected speaker on the subject since then.

I was struggling in my first direct-sales job when I discovered Helmstetter's book. I initially dismissed it as a goofy, self-help, motivational technique. Talk to yourself? Yeah, right. It makes me think of a character named Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live …

"I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me!"

I was reluctant to try it, but figured I didn't have anything to lose. Once I dug into it, I realized this wasn't Stuart Smalley-type psychobabble. There's a legitimate science behind the idea of consistently feeding your brain positive programming.

Little by little … it worked. I went from being a very mediocre salesperson to rising to the top 15% in my company and earning numerous incentive trips to places like Mexico, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

And I honestly give positive self-talk the majority of the credit.

See, our self-talk influences our thoughts. Our thoughts dictate our actions. Our actions, of course, determine our success.

So what does this have to do with that "magic little pill" I talked about yesterday? Well, copywriting success, like my prior sales success, requires more than just the proper tools and training.

You have to win at the mental game first.

And the proper self-talk plays a part in three major areas that form the foundation of your mental game. Get these down, and I believe you're about 80% of the way to copywriting success.

Your magic little pill, part one, is found in yesterday's article, "Winning at the Inner Game of Copywriting."

Give it a read, and then be sure to let me know how you've conquered the mental game. What challenges have you overcome? What techniques do you use? Tell me your story of triumph (or a big goal you plan to accomplish this year). Share with me in the comment below.

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Published: June 7, 2011

4 Responses to “The Voices in Your Head”

  1. Steve - It's Judy again. Wanted to let you know that I've set up my Steve Roller folder. It's red. In just 2 days you've already helped. I like the straight talk. Makes me sit down and take serious stock of myself. Can't say I like some of what I see - but glad I'm seeing. I want to face up to and take on the inner game ... and I like winning. Thank you. Now, on to tomorrow! (And yes, I ordered that book!)


  2. Steve,

    I win at the mental game:

    1. With a constant overdose of good thinking from several self-help gurus. I read, listen to CD,s, meditate to my heart's content... literally!


    2. By... teaching my kids! What a great way to overcome the inadequate mentoring we've had as children, particularly in the area of self-talk.
    Here's a prayer affirmation we say with our kids daily.


    Wealthy Happy Healthy Wise Peaceful Powerful Successful Energetic Handsome
    ...and it's a Great Day!

    Jerry Bures

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