It is not just you, most people actually talk to themselves!
We all talk to ourselves, all the time, whether that be internally in the form of inner speech or externally. That’s because we all think. Plato calls thought in his famous quote “the talking of the soul with itself”. In that sense, talking to yourself can be considered “thinking out loud”. This thinking can take the form of a conversation with oneself. In a study it showed that 60% of people reported that their inner speech was in the form of a dialogue. But how many people actually do it out loud?
It’s very rare that you’ll find someone talking to themselves since its associated with being “crazy”. But you’ll be surprised that most people actually talk to themselves. In a study with 1,132 participants from the University of Waterloo participants answered a questionnaire that had a variety of questions asking them if they verbalize their thoughts while doing everyday tasks. The average score was significantly above the mid-score for that questionnaire, which indicated that not only do they talk to themselves but they talk to themselves a lot.
Not only that, but successful tennis players are also famous for talking to themselves out loud, even though they’re in front of thousands of people. And for good reason, research shows that successful athletes talk to themselves more than unsuccessful athletes.
Talking to oneself isn’t just good for tennis players. Research showed that when searching for something participants who kept repeating out loud the name of the object that they’re searching for performed a lot better at the task than participants who remained silent. This study showed that talking out loud can help you stay focused on your goals. It has a role in self-control and in improving memory. Another study also showed that there might be a link between self-talk and higher emotional intelligence.’
Talking to yourself is also recommended by some therapists, talking to yourself out loud can help you see your thoughts clearly and slowly when you’re stressed or feeling emotional. It can also help when making decisions.
How to do it:
- Keep it positive
It’s important that you regulate your self-talk. Negative self-talk is associated with lower self-esteem, depression and higher stress levels.
- The pronouns
Work by Ethan Kross shows that talking to yourself in third person such as by saying “you can do it” can actually help in controlling emotion, thoughts and help you reason better. In his study with his colleagues, it showed that referring to themselves by name in self-talk helped socially anxious people in stressful social situations. This is because it helped them with “self-distancing”. As in, it helps them distance themselves from their emotions and see the situation as less threatening.
If talking to oneself is so common and has great benefits why does it have such a huge stigma around it? Talking to oneself was considered a sign of schizophrenia. Those with schizophrenia can have auditory hallucinations, the difference here is that the voices inside their heads are attributed to other people while normally when people talk to themselves, they know its themselves they are talking to.
In conclusion, talking to yourself isn’t a sign of mental illness, not only is talking to yourself completely normal but it’s also very beneficial and can help you in a number of ways. So, the next time you feel embarrassed because someone saw you talking yourself, remember it’s okay, they probably do it too.