Is it weird to talk to yourself? You’ve seen the looks. You’ve heard the whispers.
You know some of your coworkers have expressed concern (or annoyance). Are they right to?
You’re not just saying random one-liners, after all.
You’re having conversations with yourself.
And folks are acting as though you’ve crossed the line from quirky to certifiable.
The thing is, talking to yourself helps you in ways your critics clearly haven’t discovered yet.
So, how do you sell them on the virtues of “thinking out loud”?
- Why Do I Talk to Myself?
- Is It Normal to Talk to Yourself? 13 Reasons It Is Just Fine
- 1. Talking to yourself is connected with high cognitive functioning.
- 2. Talking out loud can improve focus and concentration in goal-directed behavior.
- 3. Hearing oneself talk has a stronger influence on our behavior than thinking alone.
- 4. Talking to yourself helps you create distance between you and your experiences.
- 5. Talking to yourself can both improve your performance and decrease anxiety.
- 6. Talking to yourself can improve your motor skills.
- 7. Talking to yourself can improve your memory.
- 8. Talking to yourself can help you learn a new language.
- 9. Talking to yourself can help you locate lost objects.
- 10. Talking to yourself can make you a better problem-solver (or bug finder).
- 11. Talking to yourself can help you prepare for a speech or debate.
- 12. Talking to yourself (even loudly) can alleviate pain and reduce stress.
- 13. Talking to yourself can help you improve your confidence and self-esteem.
- Do you talk to yourself?
Why Do I Talk to Myself?
People who talk to themselves have their reasons. After all, they wouldn’t keep doing it if there wasn’t some reward (i.e., positive reinforcement).
If you’re reading this for yourself, you might have some idea of why you started talking to yourself. Maybe it’s something you learned from the culture you grew up in. Or perhaps it’s been a coping mechanism since childhood.
Which of the following reasons sound familiar?
- Loneliness — No one to talk to or no one who wants to hear you talk.
- Frustration — You need an outlet, and talking to yourself gives you that.
- Early Education — Children learn by talking to themselves and through repetition.
- Habit — Venting, self-consoling, self-criticism, and/or thinking out loud.
Maybe you talk to yourself more than the people around you, or maybe you don’t. As you’ll soon see, there’s nothing abnormal about it.
Is It Normal to Talk to Yourself? 13 Reasons It Is Just Fine
It’s not a matter of asking, “Is talking to yourself good or bad?” because, like internal self-talk, the goodness or badness depends not on the thing itself but on how you use it.
Negative self-talk isn’t less dangerous when it’s all in your head. And with all the benefits of using what psychologists call “external self-talk,” how could this be a bad thing?
By the time you get through this list, you’ll see what we mean.
1. Talking to yourself is connected with high cognitive functioning.
Talking to yourself can improve cognitive functioning and increase your brainpower. So, not only does talking to yourself not make you crazy, it can actually make you smarter.
Albert Einstein admitted to a habit of talking to himself, quietly repeating his sentences. As a child, he was written off by adults as slow or “dull.” Some thought he was autistic or even schizophrenic. His habit of talking to himself probably contributed to that.
Decades later, external self-talk is considered a sign of an active and adaptable mind.
2. Talking out loud can improve focus and concentration in goal-directed behavior.
When you perform complex tasks, it’s normal to use verbal instructions as a guide. When you hear those instructions in your own voice, your brain gets more involved. So, talking your way through the project can improve your focus and concentration.
Many children do this all the time when they’re working on a new project. When you say the words and picture your desired outcome, you’re more likely to get it.
3. Hearing oneself talk has a stronger influence on our behavior than thinking alone.
Since hearing instructions in your voice gets your brain more involved, talking your way through something has a more substantial influence on your behavior and its outcome than thinking it through quietly or listening to someone else speak.
Saying things out loud makes your brain take ownership of the plan and carry it out.
4. Talking to yourself helps you create distance between you and your experiences.
Sometimes you need distance between yourself and your experiences to process what you’re going through. Self-distancing makes it easier to talk to yourself about a painful experience, so you can decide what to do about it.
Read on to learn how to do this effectively.
5. Talking to yourself can both improve your performance and decrease anxiety.
One way to create distance is to talk to yourself as you would to another person. It’s easier to provide objective, helpful feedback to someone you care about, and the words you say to yourself have a more substantial impact when you use second or third person rather than first.
Using non-first-person language enhances self-distancing and helps you regulate your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors more effectively.
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6. Talking to yourself can improve your motor skills.
Motivational self-talk can improve your physical performance. A study on the effects of instructional and motivational self-talk on basketball players’ performance showed that athletes performed better when they talked to themselves using appropriate phrases.
Practice does help you improve your skills, but talking your way through practice can help you improve more quickly.
7. Talking to yourself can improve your memory.
When you talk out loud, you stimulate your brain’s memory channels more than when you keep your thoughts in your head or listen to someone else’s words.
You hear the sounds of your voice conducted through your bones (which is why your voice sounds different to you than to others).
So, using your voice makes your brain pay closer attention and retain more — just as writing the words out does the same by involving your body as well as your thoughts.
8. Talking to yourself can help you learn a new language.
Even if you never have a conversation with a native speaker, having conversations with yourself aloud can help you learn new languages more effectively than if you learn from a textbook.
There’s a reason your language teachers make you repeat things out loud or memorize mnemonic devices.
These techniques use your own voice to aid your memory and boost your ability to learn.
9. Talking to yourself can help you locate lost objects.
If you have a mental picture of the thing you’re looking for, repeating the name of the thing out loud can help you find it more quickly.
Since saying something out loud makes your brain pay closer attention, saying the name of something you can see in your mind makes that thing stand out more clearly when it comes into your field of vision.
10. Talking to yourself can make you a better problem-solver (or bug finder).
To help them find bugs in lines of code, programmers will try explaining what they’re doing to an inanimate object (like a rubber duck).
In doing so, they improve their focus and are more likely to see discrepancies between what they’re saying and what they see in the code. Similarly, if you explain a problem to yourself, it’s easier to think of possible solutions.
11. Talking to yourself can help you prepare for a speech or debate.
Talking to yourself can help you prepare for all sorts of talking-related things:
- An important conversation
- A job interview
- A debate or speech
- Closing arguments in a court case
When you’re practicing out loud, you can anticipate and answer questions and calmly address disagreements. It’s easier to stay calm when the one arguing with you is you.
12. Talking to yourself (even loudly) can alleviate pain and reduce stress.
Go ahead and blow off some steam. Venting about your frustrations out loud can help you sort out your thoughts and process what you’re dealing with.
Sometimes, you just have to get those unfiltered thoughts out into the open.
Once you get them out, it’s easier to see where thought distortions might be creeping in and causing you more stress. Then you can ask helpful questions to dig deeper.
13. Talking to yourself can help you improve your confidence and self-esteem.
Talking to yourself in second or third person can make positive self-talk or affirmations more effective since those words usually mean more to you when they come from someone else.
If no one else will say them, you can still say them to yourself out loud and reap the benefits of doing so. So, if you’re having a hard time saying “I am enough” and believing it, try saying “You are enough” to yourself.
Do you talk to yourself?
While talking to yourself is a powerful tool for cognitive development and personal growth, the benefits still depend on the words you use. If your internal self-talk is negative, saying it out loud won’t make it better.
Use what you’ve learned here to make the most of the benefits of talking to yourself by using positive, encouraging language.
As long as the words are helpful, talking to yourself can only help you accomplish more and become the person you want to be. Nothing crazy about that.