Dr. Shad Helmstetter, my favorite contemporary author on the subject of self-talk, titled his book, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.

Early in the book, he says children hear the word “no” more than 148,000 times—“considerably more negative programming than any of us needs.” What’s the long-range damage? By the time we become adults, we have become accustomed to accepting and supporting a defeatist attitude. To what extent? Helmstetter reports that “as much as 77 percent of everything we think is negative, counterproductive, and works against us.”

Likening the human brain to a computer, he advocates getting rid of our harmful mental programs, and bringing in healthy, affirmative ones. Repeatedly, he urges us to “erase and replace.”

Envision two ways of handling the same scene: You have made the short list for a job you want, want almost desperately. One hour before the interview, you are reviewing the job description and forecasting the interviewer’s questions.

FIRST RESPONSE: Your thoughts border on self-rejection:

“What am I doing here? I’m not qualified for this position.”

“I know the other finalist—much more attractive than me, a really smooth talker.”

“My main goal will be to keep from embarrassing myself too much.”

“Bet they won’t like this old suit. Should have bought a new one.”

“My interview with the rival company bombed. Wonder if this interviewer heard about that fiasco.”

SECOND RESPONSE: Your thoughts are so constructive that you can feel your self-esteem rising:

“Man, glad I got the degree I did. Makes me a perfect fit for this position.”

“Interviews don’t scare me. Yeah, some haven’t been winners, but everybody has a few bad ones. I have gotten this far professionally because I am poised and articulate during interviews.”

“Ted is a capable finalist. He will present himself well. Yet worrying about him accomplishes nothing. I’ll forget the competition—and concentrate on the opportunity.”

“What if I didn’t buy a new suit? This one represents contemporary style. The personnel officials will like the physical impression I make.”

These “Yes, I can” comments become self-fulfilling prophecy.

To echo Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

So whenever an upcoming interview brings up self-defeating thoughts, change your self-talk. Talk to yourself as your would to a best friend or a child—as a coach, encourager, fan, and believer. Your interview will blossom beautifully.