Everyone talks to him or herself. Most keep it internal, rarely muttering a word aloud. Some talk out loud to themselves, and get strange looks. There are positives and negatives to talking to oneself, both silently and aloud, and this post will hopefully provide some guidance.
A few years ago there were a several studies that became all the rage in psychology circles. Tim Newcome wrote a short piece for Time magazine about how talking aloud to yourself doesn’t mean your “bananas” anymore. He referenced a study from the “Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology” which indicated talking aloud to oneself allows for quicker functioning and may help augment thinking.
Psychology Today Blogger Guy Winch, Ph.D. discussed other studies in his post titled, “Why you should start talking to yourself”, that demonstrated using third person pronouns for oneself created psychological distancing during self-talk, and allowed participants to perform the task significantly better. This research has also been discussed in a short NPR story entitled, “Why Saying Is Believing — The Science Of Self-Talk”. The story uses research on self-talk where the negative wording is reframed and removed, as well as the research noted above where third person pronouns are substituted for first person pronouns.
In another article, Linda Dapadin, Ph.D points out four ways talking aloud to yourself is beneficial. She discusses how complimenting yourself and using self-motivational talk to get things done can help you feel better about yourself. She goes on to discuss how having an outer dialogue can help in the decision making process and how verbalized goal setting, such as telling yourself, “okay, let’s get focused and get that post written for Psychology Today”, can help one feel smarter and make better decisions. Planning and goal setting is a circumstance where I have witnessed self-talk frequently used with success.
Another place self-talk, whether internal or external, can be used positively is in challenging irrational thoughts or expectations. Often negative emotions arise as a result of cognitive distortions, irrational beliefs, or unrealistic expectations. Cognitive therapists teach individuals how to identify and challenge these thoughts. Self-talk is absolutely necessary to this process, and can often be done just as effectively aloud.
This is a lot of evidence indicating correctly used self-talk can be beneficial. As someone who is often caught talking to himself, I would not argue. There are times, however, when talking to oneself is contraindicated.
There is the obvious negative self-talk, such as putting yourself down, chastising yourself, or otherwise treating yourself in a negative way. Then there is less obvious negative self-talk, such as when you’re feeling justified feeding your anger or planning what you’ll say when you see that so-and-so again. Then there is the much less obvious wandering-mind self-talk that does no good and burns mental energy. But there is a way to, using Ram Dass’ description of the mind, to take the mind from being a horrible master, and make it a wonderful servant:
These techniques may seem strange, and some have been made fun of in sitcoms. (“Seinfeld”, among others come to mind). But studies indicate they work, improve self-image, make one more focused and efficient, and they can lead to a greater sense of peace.
Copyright William Berry, 2015
Dapadin, L; 2012; Talking to yourself; a sign of sanity; Psyc Central; retrieved on September 15th from: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/12/07/talking-to-yourself-a-s...
Eyal, N; 2015; None for me, thanks; Psychology Today; October, 2015; p.22.
Newcome, T; 2012; Talking to yourself may actually be a good idea; Time Magazine; retrieved on September 15th from: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/04/25/talking-to-yourself-may-actually-be-...
Starecheski, L; 2014; Why saying is believing — The Science Of Self-Talk; NPR Shots; retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/10/07/353292408/why-saying...
Weissman, E; 2015; The power is yours; Psychology Today; October, 2015; p.18.
Winch, G; 2014; Why you should start talking to yourself; Psychology Today Blog, The squeaky wheel; retrieved on September 15th from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201405/why-you-sh...