Have you ever been caught talking to yourself and experienced the inevitable embarrassment? Well, you probably shouldn’t feel embarrassed at all. In fact, many people claim to talk to themselves quite often throughout their days. (Live Science) That’s even how children actually learn to speak, they start by talking to themselves!
So, is talking to yourself actually healthy? Yes! The benefits of talking to yourself include:
- Easing loneliness.
- Better organization.
- Alleviating stress.
- Developing independent problem-solving.
- Providing personal insight.
- Improving self-esteem.
- Bolstering your intelligence.
- Better memory retention.
While these eight fantastic benefits should be enough to have you shamelessly talking to yourself in no time, self-talk is linked to success and can help your children develop healthy skills, as well. The days of feeling crazy for talking to yourself are over! Read on to learn how this quirky habit is incredibly beneficial and how to use it to your advantage.
Why Talking to Yourself is Healthy
Have you ever caught yourself repeating the name of an item while you were searching for it in a store? Have you ever complimented yourself a few times under your breath before walking into an important job interview?
You’re not alone.
Talking to yourself out loud is such a common occurrence that psychologists have even given it a name – “external self-talk.”
The two positive types of external self-talk are motivational and instructional self-talk.
- Motivational self-talk can be compared to giving yourself a “pep talk” out loud. For example, stating, “I’ve trained for this. I am ready for this.” before beginning a track meet can help to encourage you.
- Instructional self-talk manifests when you are talking yourself through a task or an obstacle. For example, verbalizing the ingredients you need to gather and the steps you need to take to complete a recipe can assist you while you cook.
Talking to yourself in the right way can positively influence your actions and your understanding – of both yourself and your surroundings. Ethan Kross, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, states: “Language provides us with this tool to gain distance from our own experiences when we’re reflecting on our lives. And that’s really why it’s useful.” (Source: The New York Times)
Most people can agree that positivity, no matter where it comes from, is an extremely influential factor in general happiness and healthy well-being. But when that positivity comes from yourself, imagine how much more powerful it can be. The following benefits are just some of the ways that talking to yourself can better your health, your mind, and your life.
1. It Helps to Ease Loneliness.
Sometimes, you find yourself alone with no one around to talk to. An empty house can feel much emptier with no sound. Online chatting or texting isn’t always enough, and if no one is answering your phone calls, what are you supposed to do? Talk to yourself!
Take the time alone to exercise your body while talking yourself through the exercises to break the silence. Reread your favorite book, adding your own verbal commentary. Find that one task that you’ve been procrastinating and start it, and make sure to let yourself know what a great job you’re doing while talking yourself through any rough parts.
Part of a healthy mindset is being able to be alone without being lonely, and self-talk can help you accomplish that.
2. It Aids in Organization.
Some people struggle more than others when it comes to staying organized. It may seem that no amount of to-do lists can keep you on task to get all your work done. So, why not add reading the list out loud to yourself a few times to your daily routine?
Stating what you need to do out loud helps to present it to your brain in an external way, compounding on the internal list of things you need to do and helping to cement your day’s schedule. With the excessively busy lives of most people today, giving your brain a bit of verbal help to keep everything together may be just what you need to stay organized.
3. It Alleviates Stress.
Stress is an inevitable woe for many. One common trigger for stress is harmful and self-deprecating thoughts. When your brain decides to become your worst enemy, turn to positive external self-talk to combat the silent monologue in your head. If you cannot seem to shake your stress, talk yourself out of it.
Some ways to talk yourself out of stress overload include:
- Verbally correct negative thoughts as soon as they occur. If you make a mistake and you instantly think you are stupid, immediately state, “I am capable, and I can do this” out loud.
- When you begin to feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, repeat a positive mantra to yourself aloud, such as “I made it through yesterday, I will make it through today, and I will make it through tomorrow.” Repeat it until you believe it.
- Not all stress-reducing self-talk has to be complete sentences. If you find yourself extremely anxious, take a break, and count to ten, out loud and slowly.
4. It Builds Independent Problem-Solving.
Do you often find yourself discussing all your problems with your partner or best friend and asking them how to fix them? Have you ever sat to think about how often you try to solve your issues on your own? Many people do not even realize that they always ask for advice from others but never ask for advice from themselves.
Talking to yourself can be the driving force you need in order to become more independent in your problem-solving. State the issue and give yourself advice. If this seems challenging, imagine that the problem is someone else’s, and you are giving them advice until taking your advice begins to feel more natural. You would be surprised at how effective you can be at solving problems by yourself once you get out of the habit of going to someone else for help!
5. It Provides Personal Insight.
One unfortunate truth about positive self-talk is that it is not always going to be what you want to hear. That’s right – being open and honest while talking to yourself can sometimes point out things that you are doing wrong, like overreacting, not considering the feelings of others, or jumping to conclusions.
Consider this: Every time your toddler spills their drink, you immediately yell and demand that they be more careful. One day, you begin finding dried spills in hidden places, or you notice your toddler immediately starts crying uncontrollably when they spill something. While your mind may go straight to the default yelling and demanding, your external self-talk needs to address your fault in the matter.
Your child has probably begun to hide their spills or feel intense guilt when they spill things because of your reaction every time they spilled something. Tell yourself that a spilled drink can be cleaned, but the emotional effect your reactions are having on your child cannot be as easily fixed. Speak it out loud until you have learned to change your behavior.
6. It Improves Self-Esteem.
Maintaining a positive self-image and healthy self-esteem can be hard to do. But reaffirming your favorable attributes regularly and complimenting yourself on your victories (no matter how small) can help to build your confidence significantly. Confidence is far from conceit. And being aware of your worth to yourself and your loved ones can help to facilitate high self-esteem.
So, the next time you take a risk, and it pays off, tell yourself how brave you are. If you’re having a bad day but still manage to take a shower and put fresh clothes on, remind yourself that even a small victory is a victory. When you feel absolutely defeated at the end of a particularly hard day, remark to yourself how you still managed to do everything you needed to do.
7. It Bolsters Your Intelligence.
Did you know that one of the signs of having high intelligence is talking to yourself? The article “12 Quirky Habits of People Who Are Smarter Than Everyone Else” by Tina Donvito states: “You may think that mumbling to yourself makes you seem crazy, but in reality, it might be a sign of higher thinking, memory, and perception skills.” (Source: The Healthy)
Combine the fact that talking to yourself helps with organizational and problem-solving skills, with how it helps to increase brain performance and function, and you have all the makings of a genius!
8. It Aids in Memory Retention.
On top of all the other benefits listed, self-talk also helps to improve memory retention. How many times have you lost your car keys? What about your cell phone? Did you know that saying the place that you sit an item down aloud as you set it down helps you remember where you put it?
The next time you sit your keys down on the counter, try verbally stating: “I am sitting my keys on the counter.” See if it helps you remember where they are when you need them later. Additionally, there is research that suggests repeating what you are looking for out loud while you are looking helps you to find what you are looking for by triggering your memory. (Source: ScienceDaily)
Is “Self-Talk” Always Out Loud?
With all of the focus being put on talking to yourself out loud so far, you may be wondering if all beneficial self-talk has to be said audibly. The answer is no! It may not always be feasible for you to talk to yourself aloud in certain situations. When this happens, it is perfectly fine to bring the positive self-talk inward and give yourself the boost you need inside of your mind.
Internal self-talk is just as helpful as external self-talk if it continues to be positive. It is easier to be harder on yourself when no one can hear you, but it is crucial to avoid falling victim to negative inner dialogue. (Source: CNN Health)
Is Talking to Yourself Linked to Success?
London dentist Eugene Gamble decided one day that he wanted to leave his dental career and pursue being an entrepreneur. His one problem was that he wasn’t very good at business. Even though Gamble could have easily picked up his dentist tools again, he pushed through his failures and eventually hired a business coach to help him figure out what he was doing wrong.
To Gamble’s surprise, the first piece of advice his business coach gave him was to start speaking out loud. This advice was the beginning of Gamble’s thriving business career. (Source: BBC WORKLIFE)
Dr. Paloma Mari-Beffa, a psychologist and co-author of a self-talk study done at Bangor University, views external self-talk as a way “to help us organize thoughts, emotions, and memories, as well as plan actions.” She believes these benefits come “from simply hearing oneself, as auditory commands seem to be better controllers of behavior than written ones.”
(Source: Big Think)
Clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and author of Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons from the Therapist’s Couch*, Lisa Ferentz, uses positive self-talk to help her patients transform their lives, encouraging them to practice both healthy inner dialogue and external self-talk.
Some of her suggestions include:
- Writing down positive aspects about yourself and reading them out loud.
- Giving yourself quick motivational pep talks before intimidating happenings.
- Not backing away from “negative” thoughts if they are constructive.
As you can see, talking to yourself can be a catalyst for success because it promotes many of the attributes needed to obtain your goals and push through failures, such as being able to give yourself constructive criticism, helping you learn to plan your actions, and building confidence.
Your Positive Self-Talk Doesn’t Only Help You
Parents know all too well that children learn more by example than they do by direction, especially when they are young. If you are a parent who practices positive self-talk around your kids, there’s a good reason for you to believe that they will pick up on it.
Some ways that your positive self-talk can help your children are:
- If your children do not feel like talking to themselves is odd behavior, they will engage in self-talk more often – even if it is just while playing with toys. This helps to develop their language.
- It can help your children learn to process and understand their thoughts and feelings better. When they see their parents practicing healthy emotional behavior, they are more likely to do so themselves.
- If your children have issues with concentration, having them read what they are trying to comprehend out loud can help to keep their attention for longer. If your child is too young to read on their own, you can have them repeat after you to help them learn.
Is It Ever Bad to Talk to Yourself?
One of the reasons that talking to yourself has gotten such a bad reputation is that it is commonly associated with mental illness, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Self-talk is very rarely the sign of a significant psychological issue, but there are times that it can be harmful. Negative self-talk, whether internal or external, is never beneficial.
Some of the ways that negative self-talk can be hurtful to your well-being are:
- It can limit your success. If you are continually doubting yourself or avoiding taking any chances because you have convinced yourself you cannot do something, then you will not take action to change your life.
- It can cause you to experience depression. Even if you have never experienced depression before, if you find yourself in a slump and overwhelmed with negative thoughts about yourself, you will find it hard to hold on to happiness.
- It can cause issues in your relationships. No matter if the relationship is familial, platonic, or romantic. Negative self-talk leads to low self-image. And it can cause tension between you and your loved ones because of how your self-image causes you to act and react.
- It can result in your withdrawal from others. When you don’t feel worthy of your own love, you don’t feel worthy of others’ love. And you may find yourself isolating yourself and experiencing loneliness.
- It can heighten anxiety and fear. Negative self-talk can cause you to create problems that do not exist. You can also become fearful of things you usually wouldn’t fear, or react to situations unfavorably.
There are times that negative self-talk can lead to more dangerous issues, like self-harm. If you find yourself harming yourself physically as a result of negative dialogue with yourself, it is a sign of a much more serious issue. You should seek the help of a medical professional immediately. (Source: HuffPost)
Pro-Tip: If you are stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk, grab your favorite book and start reading it out loud. Not only will you find comfort with familiar characters and a great story, but you will also distract your mind from any harmful thoughts that may surface.
In most instances, talking to yourself can foster terrific overall health and well-being. The key to ensuring your self-talk stays beneficial is to keep it positive. Focus on motivational and instructional internal and external self-talk. It may seem weird to you at first to wake up, look in the mirror, and audibly say the words, “You are enough.” But give it a try. You will thank yourself later.