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How Sentence Completion Can Change Your Life

18 years ago I read a book called “The Six Pillars of High Self-Esteem” by Nathaniel Branden who has created a unique method called “sentence completion”. Today I know that the method presented in his book is working not only in psychotherapy but also in everyday life. Check how to use Nathaniel’s method.

source: Nathaniel Branden’s website

I want to point out that that I am not going to duplicate the on Nathaniel’s website article here. I will shortly describe it and then share my own observations about it. Let my post be a kind of gratitude for the positive effects this method has brought about in my life.

Sentence Completion

Here is Nathaniel’s general description of the method:


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 is a grammatical completion of the sentence.

Nathaniel Branden

Further, Nathaniel writes that sentence completion can be used orally in therapy when the patient sees a psychologist. However, he has also developed a written program that can be done at home.

How To Complete the Sentences

The program from Nathaniel’s book works in this way:

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.

Nathaniel Branden

After I had finished reading “The Six Pillars of High Self-Esteem”, I instantly started the 30-week program. It was in 2002. Since then I have done the sentence completion a couple of times again, always having new results and finding new discoveries about myself. Recently I have decided to try it again. I am doing Week 5 at the moment.

The Technique – Weekdays

From Monday to Friday, when I get up, sentence completion is the first thing I do. I take my notebook and also open the book where I can see the stems for a given week. I write down the stem and add 6 endings (Nathaniel recommends 6 to 10). Then I complete the next sentence and do the same, adding 6 endings. There are 4 to 5 stems for each week.

Remember that while writing the endings you do a brainstorm, without long thinking and evaluation. On Saturday or Sunday evening I read what has been written for the five days and complete the sentence listed further in this article/

The Rules

  1. Do not check the previous day’s sentences.
  2. Write for no more than ten minutes.
  3. Turn off your phone, although I am listening to theta music during writing.
  4. Do not worry if the answers repeat during a given week or even the program.
  5. Write with the flow, whatever your subconscious mind brings to you. No long thinking is allowed.
  6. Do not impose any demands on the situation. Try to empty your mind of anticipations.
  7. Focus only on writing, never do other things simultaneously.
  8. Your endings must be a grammatical completion of the sentence, and if your mind goes absolutely empty, invent an ending, but never allow yourself to stop with the thought that you cannot do this exercise.

Weekend Practice

At any time, during each weekend, reread what you have written for the week, reflect on it, and then write a minimum of six endings for this stem:

If any of what I wrote this week is true, it might be helpful if I…

The next week, move onto the next block of stems in the program.

Why Is It Working?

The art of doing sentence completion well is to maintain a high level of mental focus combined with a complete lack of internal censorship. Doing sentence completion on a daily basis as described here is a kind of psychological discipline, a spiritual practice, even, that over time achieves insight, integration, and spontaneous behaviour change.

Nathaniel Branden

Questions and Controversies

People sometimes ask, “How do I integrate the things I am learning in sentence completion?” Nathaniel answers that practice itself, done repetitively, brings about the integration. The speed of your progress depends in part on the level of focus and consciousness you bring to the work, both while doing it and later when reviewing and reflecting on your endings.

Programs Included

There are two 30-week sentence completion programs offered by Nathaniel Branden plus some shorter ones, found in his book “The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem.” I have started the general program for improving self-esteem which is aimed at improving this skill. The program mentioned above focuses on helping you to practice better what I have identified as the “six pillars of self-esteem”. All the six practices lead to higher self-confidence and are described in detail in Nathaniel’s book, “The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem.”

I have also written a book on which Nathaniel’s teachings have had a great impact.

In my next posts, I will share my experiences with the program so stay tuned to my website.

In a Nutshell

Today I have described the sentence completion method worked out by Nathaniel Branden. In the shortest, you add endings to the stems for each week, in the morning from Monday to Friday. Then during the weekend, you make conclusions based on the whole week’s discoveries.

Victoria Herocten

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