Sentence Completion As A Tool For Personal Development

2014-08-03 20.12.51-2In his book ‘The Six Pillars of Self Esteem’ Nathaniel Branden promotes the use of sentence completion as a technique for personal growth:

Sentence completion is a technique I have developed in my clinical practice that can be used to facilitate self-understanding and personal growth. The essence of the sentence completion procedure is to start with an incomplete sentence, a “sentence stem,” and to keep adding different endings, between six and ten, with the sole requirement being that each ending be a grammatical completion of the sentence.

I use sentence completion in therapy, where clients complete sentences orally. I have also developed multi-week, written sentence-completion programs that can be done at home. In each week of a program, you are given a block of four to six stems. Every morning, you write completions for all the stems in this week’s block. At the end of the week, you reflect on your answers for the week and perform another completion exercise to help you solidify what you have learned. The next week, you move on to the next block of stems in the program.

I’m going to be giving it a go in this blog as a way of kick starting my journaling habit.  I don’t want to clutter up the blog with these exercises though so they will be hidden away behind the journal tag:

In the morning, before proceeding to the day’s business, write this down in a notebook or on the computer, then, as rapidly as possible, without pausing for reflection, write as many endings for that sentence as you can in two or three minutes – never less than six, and ten is enough. Do not worry if your endings are literally true or make sense or are “profound.” Write anything, but write something.

The sentences, (from this website http://nathanielbranden.com/sentence-completion-i) follow:

Week 1

  • If I bring more awareness to my life today…
  • If I take more responsibility for my choices and actions today…
  • If pay more attention to how I deal with people today…
  • If I boost my energy level by 5 percent today…


Week 2

  • If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my important relationships…
  • If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my insecurities…
  • If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my deepest needs and wants…
  • If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my emotions…


Week 3

  • If I treat listening as a creative act…
  • If I notice how people are affected by the quality of my listening…
  • If I bring more awareness to my dealings with people today…
  • If I commit to dealing with people fairly and benevolently…


Week 4

  • If I bring a higher level of self-esteem to my activities today…
  • If I bring a higher level of self-esteem to my dealings with people today…
  • If I am 5 percent more self-accepting today…
  • If I am self-accepting even when I make mistakes…
  • If I am self-accepting even when I feel confused and overwhelmed…


Week 5

  • If I am more accepting of my body…
  • If I deny and disown my body…
  • If I deny or disown my conflicts…
  • If I am more accepting of all the parts of me…


Week 6

  • If I wanted to raise my self-esteem today, I could…
  • If I am more accepting of my feelings…
  • If I deny and disown my feelings…
  • If I am more accepting of my thoughts…
  • If I deny and disown my thoughts…


Week 7

  • If I am more accepting of my fears…
  • If I deny and disown my fears…
  • If I were more accepting of my pain…
  • If I deny and disown my pain…


Week 8

  • If I am more accepting of my anger…
  • If I deny and disown my anger…
  • If I am more accepting of my sexuality…
  • If I deny and disown my sexuality…


Week 9

  • If I am more accepting of my excitement…
  • If I deny and disown my excitement…
  • If I am more accepting of my intelligence…
  • If I deny and disown my intelligence…


Week 10

  • Self-responsibility means…
  • If I take 5 percent more responsibility for my life and well-being…
  • If I avoid responsibility for my life and well-being…
  • If I take 5 percent more responsibility for the attainment of my goals…
  • If I avoid responsibility for the attainment of my goals…


Week 11

  • If I take 5 percent more responsibility for the success of my relationships…
  • Sometimes I keep myself passive when I…
  • Sometimes I make myself helpless when I…
  • I am becoming aware…


Week 12

  • If I take 5 percent more responsibility for my standard of living…
  • If I take 5 percent more responsibility for my choice of companions…
  • If I take 5 percent more responsibility for my personal happiness…
  • If I take 5 percent more responsibility for the level of my self-esteem…


Week 13

  • Self-assertiveness means…
  • If I lived 5 percent more assertively today…
  • If I treat my thoughts and feelings with respect today…
  • If I treat my wants with respect today…


Week 14

  • If, when I was young, someone had told me my wants really mattered…
  • If, when I was young, I had been taught to honor my own life…
  • If I treat my life as unimportant…
  • If I were willing to say yes when I want to say yes and no when I want to say no…
  • If I were willing to let people hear the music inside me…
  • If I were to express 5 percent more of who I am…


Week 15

  • Living purposefully to me means…
  • If I bring 5 percent more purposefulness into my life…
  • If I operate 5 percent more purposefully at work…
  • If I operate 5 percent more purposefully in my relationships…
  • If I operate 5 percent more purposefully in marriage…


Week 16

  • If I operate 5 percent more purposefully with my children…
  • If I were 5 percent more purposeful about my deepest yearnings…
  • If I take more responsibility for fulfilling my wants…
  • If I make my happiness a conscious goal…


Week 17

  • Integrity means…
  • If I look at instances in which I find full integrity difficult…
  • If I bring 5 percent more integrity into my life…
  • If I bring 5 percent more integrity to my work…


Week 18

  • If I bring 5 percent more integrity to my relationship…
  • If I remain loyal to the values I believe are right…
  • If I refuse to live by values I do not respect…
  • If I treat my self-respect as a high priority…


Week 19

  • If the child in me could speak, he/she would say…
  • If the teenager I once was still exists inside of me…
  • If my teenage self could speak, he/she would say…
  • At the thought of reaching back to help my child self…
  • At the thought of reaching back to help my teenage self…
  • If I could make friends with my younger selves…


Week 20

  • If my child self felt accepted by me…
  • If my teenage self felt I was on his/her side…
  • If my younger selves felt I had compassion for their struggles…
  • If I could hold my child self in my arms…
  • If I could hold my teenage self in my arms…
  • If I had the courage and compassion to embrace and love my younger selves…


Week 21

  • Sometimes my child self feels rejected by me when I…
  • Sometimes my teenage self feel rejected by me when I…
  • One of the things my child self needs from me and rarely gets…
  • One of the things my teenage self needs from me and has not received is…
  • One of the ways my child self gets back at me for rejecting him/her is…
  • One of the ways my teenage self gets back at me for rejecting him/her is…


Week 22

  • At the thought of giving my child self what he/she needs from me…
  • At the thought of giving my teenage self what he/she needs from me…
  • If my child self and I were to fall in love…
  • If my teenage self and I were to fall in love…


Week 23

  • If I accept that my child self may need time to learn to trust me…
  • If I accept that my teenage self may need time to learn to trust me…
  • As I come to understand that my child self and my teenage self are both part of me…
  • I am becoming aware…


Week 24

  • Sometimes when I am afraid, I…
  • Sometimes when I am hurt, I…
  • Sometimes when I am angry, I…
  • An effective way to handle fear might be to…
  • An effective way to handle hurt might be to…
  • An effective way to handle anger might be to…


Week 25

  • Sometimes when I am excited, I…
  • Sometimes when I am aroused sexually, I…
  • Sometimes when I experience strong feelings, I…
  • If I make friends with my excitement…
  • If I make friends with my sexuality…
  • As I grow more comfortable with the full range of my emotions…


Week 26

  • If I think about becoming better friends with my child self…
  • If I think about becoming better friends with my teenage self…
  • As my younger selves become more comfortable with me…
  • As I create a safe space for my child self…
  • As I create a safe space for my teenage self…


Week 27

  • Mother gave me a view of myself as…
  • Father gave me a view of myself as…
  • Mother speaks through my voice when I tell myself…
  • Father speaks through my voice when I tell myself…


Week 28

  • If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my relationship with my mother…
  • If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my relationship with my father…
  • If I look at my mother and father realistically…
  • If I reflect on the level of awareness I bring to my relationship with my mother…
  • If I reflect on the level of awareness I bring to my relationship with my father…


Week 29

  • At the thought of being free of Mother psychologically…
  • At the thought of being free of Father psychologically…
  • At the thought of belonging fully to myself…
  • If my life really does belong to me…
  • If I really am capable of independent survival…


Week 30

  • If I bring 5 percent more awareness to my life…
  • If I am 5 percent more self-accepting…
  • If I bring 5 percent more self-responsibility to my life…
  • If I operate 5 percent more self-assertively…
  • If I live my life 5 percent more purposefully…
  • If I bring 5 percent more integrity to my life…
  • If I breathe deeply and allow myself to experience what self-esteem feels like…

The next block if for the book:

Taking Responsibility: Self-Reliance and the Accountable Life,” is designed to help you take more responsibility in all areas of your life.

Week 1

  • Self-responsibility to me means…
  • Independence to me means…
  • Thinking for myself means…
  • Trusting my own mind means…


Week 2

  • If I operate five percent more self-responsibly today…
  • If I think for myself today…
  • If I bring five percent more awareness to my deepest needs and wants…
  • If I bring five percent more awareness to what I truly think and feel…
  • I am becoming aware…


Week 3

  • If I am more straightforward about what I think and feel today…
  • If I operate five percent more self-assertively today…
  • If I treat my wants and needs with more respect today…
  • If I express myself calmly and with dignity today…
  • If I want to translate these ideas into action…


Week 4

  • If I pay more attention to my inner signals today…
  • If I am more truthful in my dealings with people today…
  • If I am five percent more self-accepting today…
  • If I am self-accepting even when I make mistakes…
  • If these ideas start working in my subconscious mind…


Week 5

  • If I disown what I am thinking and feeling…
  • If I place other people’s thoughts above my own…
  • When I look at what I do to impress people…
  • If I fake who I am to make myself “likable”…
  • I am beginning to suspect…


Week 6

  • If I am more accepting of my feelings today…
  • If I deny and disown my feelings…
  • If I am more accepting of my thoughts…
  • If I deny and disown my thoughts…
  • I am becoming aware…


Week 7

  • If I am more accepting of my fears…
  • If I deny and disown my fears…
  • If I were more accepting of my pain…
  • If I deny and disown my pain…
  • Right now it seems obvious that…


Week 8

  • If I am more accepting of my desire to be liked…
  • If I deny and disown my desire to be liked…
  • If I learn to manage my desire for approval…
  • If I can acknowledge my desire for approval without being controlled by it…
  • If I want to translate these ideas into action…


Week 9

  • If I am more accepting of my deepest self…
  • If I deny and disown my deepest self…
  • If I am more accepting of my intelligence…
  • If I deny and disown my intelligence…
  • If I allow myself to understand what I am writing…


Week 10

  • Self-responsibility means…
  • If I am more accepting of my thoughts and feelings, whether or not anyone shares them…
  • If I deny and disown thoughts and feelings others do not share…
  • If I betray my thoughts and feelings in action…
  • If I honor my thoughts and feelings in action…
  • I am beginning to suspect…


Week 11

  • If I imagine being more self-responsible…
  • If I imagine being more independent…
  • If I imagine looking at things through my own eyes…
  • If I take five percent more responsibility for the ideas I live by…
  • If these ideas start working in my subconscious mind…


Week 12

  • If I honor my judgment today…
  • Sometimes I keep myself passive when I…
  • Sometimes I make myself helpless when I…
  • If I pretend to be less than I am…
  • If I allow myself to absorb what I am writing…


Week 13

  • If I bring five percent more integrity into my relationships…
  • If I take five percent more responsibility for my choice of companions…
  • If I take five percent more responsibility for my personal happiness…
  • If I take five percent more responsibility for the level of my self-esteem…
  • I am becoming aware…


Week 14

  • If I lived five percent more authentically today…
  • If I treat my thoughts and feelings with respect today…
  • If I experiment with being more self-assertive today…
  • If I am willing to see what I see and know what I know…
  • If I fully face the meaning of what I am writing…


Week 15

  • If I hold myself accountable for my promises and commitments…
  • If I stop all excuse-making and alibiing…
  • If I refuse to surrender to helplessness…
  • If I were willing to say “yes” when I want to say “yes” and “no” when I want to say “no”…
  • I am beginning to suspect…


Week 16

  • If I were willing to let people see who I am…
  • If I took more responsibility for delivering on my commitments…
  • If I operate five percent more self-responsibly at work…
  • If I operate five percent more self-responsibly in my relationships…
  • If I choose to translate these ideas into action…


Week 17

  • If I stay connected with what I truly think and feel…
  • If I take more responsibility for fulfilling my wants…
  • If I refuse to blame anyone…
  • If I make my happiness a conscious goal…
  • Right now it seems clear…


Week 18

  • If I look people in the eyes and tell the truth today…
  • If I refuse to be ruled by fear of disapproval…
  • If I refuse to hide who I am…
  • If I am simple, honest, and straightforward today…
  • If I allow what I am writing to fully penetrate…


Week 19

  • If I bring five percent more integrity to my relationships…
  • If I remain loyal to the values I believe are right…
  • If I refuse to live by values I do not respect…
  • If I treat my self-respect as a high priority…
  • I am becoming aware…


Week 20

  • If I accept responsibility for my life and well-being…
  • If I accept responsibility for my choices and decisions…
  • If I accept responsibility for my actions…
  • If I accept responsibility for how I deal with people…
  • If I choose to translate these ideas into action…


Week 21

  • If I want to grow in independence, I will need to…
  • If I want to grow in self-esteem, I will need to…
  • If I want to be more authentic, I will need to…
  • If I want to outgrow dependency, I will need to…
  • If I am willing to experiment with these ideas in action…


Week 22

  • If I look at things through my own eyes today…
  • If I am willing to see what I see and know what I know…
  • If I am truthful today, even if it’s difficult…
  • I grow in self-respect when I…
  • I am becoming aware…


Week 23

  • If I operate five percent more self-responsibly today…
  • If I operate five percent more self-assertively today…
  • If I operate five percent more authentically today…
  • If I operate five percent more honestly today…
  • Right now it seems clear that…


Week 24

  • As I grow in self-responsibility…
  • As I grow in independence…
  • As I learn to say what I truly think and feel…
  • As I learn to look at things through my own eyes…
  • If these ideas start working in my subconscious mind…


Week 25

  • Sometimes when I am afraid of self-responsibility I…
  • Sometimes when I am afraid of independence I…
  • If I want to outgrow any fear I have of self-responsibility…
  • If I want to outgrow any fear I have of independence…
  • I am beginning to suspect…


Week 26

  • One of the things I’ve been learning through this program is…
  • As I notice when I am being self-responsible and when I am not fully…
  • As I notice when I am being authentic and when I am not fully…
  • As I notice how I feel when I am honest…
  • I am becoming aware…


Week 27

  • I feel most proud of myself when I…
  • I feel least proud of myself when I…
  • If I give myself credit for my willingness to struggle…
  • If I give myself credit for my dedication to personal growth…
  • If I allow myself to understand what I am writing…


Week 28

  • As I learn to translate what I am learning into action…
  • As I continue the struggle, even when it’s difficult…
  • If I choose to persevere, no matter how long it takes…
  • One of the ways I am changing is…
  • I am beginning to suspect…


Week 29

  • As my understanding of self-responsibility deepens…
  • As my understanding of independence deepens…
  • As I learn to be more authentic when dealing with people…
  • As everything I am learning takes root in my subconscious mind…
  • I am becoming aware…


Week 30

  • As I learn to operate at a higher level of self-responsibility…
  • As I learn to operate at a higher level of independence…
  • As I learn to pay more attention to what I truly think and feel…
  • As I learn to treat myself with more respect…
  • As I go on translating these learnings into action…

The photo today is of the horses that roam free on Lincoln common ground.  I chose this picture for this post for three reasons.  I was visiting Lincoln and walking on the common when I decided to do this daily exercise.  I grew up in Lincoln and because these carefree horses are a reminder that there is a much simpler life available to us.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

2 Responses

  1. Katie says:

    Did you continue with the sentence completion for very long? I’m only on week 3 and just wondering if it had been useful for anyone. Too soon for me to say for myself,i think. But it’s kind of fun so far.

  2. I didn’t Katie, even after s few days I saw diminishing returns and I don’t like activities that stop me moving by keeping me sitting

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