Benefits Of Talking To Yourself And How To Do It Right
“One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody’s listening” Franklin P. Jones
You must be thinking now – is there a BAD way to talk to yourself?
Of course. Believe me, It’s definitely an art. Just like basket weaving.
But seriously – we definitely take our ability to talk to ourselves for granted. I actually tried to google “talking to yourself” in some languages. The result? Usually, people are trying to make sure that they don’t suffer from schizophrenia.
Why so many bad associations?
Every time, every bloody time, when I mention to somebody that I love talking to myself out loud, they give me this weird look. They probably think that I put on my trenchcoat, get on the bus, sit near some nice, old lady and rub myself while blurting out some incomprehensible words.
That’s a grave misunderstanding. If used the right way, “self-talk” as psychologists refer to it, can be a very effective tool in your mental arsenal. It can, I kid you not, improve almost every area of your life.
So no more shameful hiding in the shadows. Embrace your inner voices and let me walk you through the advantages of self-talk!
So what does the research say about talking to yourself?
Research from the University of Michigan found that those who worked through their stress about giving a speech about their qualifications using “you” rather than “I” performed better and were less tormented by anxiety and self-doubt.
When people think of themselves as another person, “it allows them to give themselves objective, helpful feedback“, says Ethan Kross, associate professor of psychology and director of the Self-Control and Emotion Laboratory at the University of Michigan
In another study, psychologists Gary Lupyan (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Daniel Swingley (University of Pennsylvania) conducted a series of experiments to discover whether talking to yourself can help you to locate lost objects.
Long story short – they established that speaking facilitated search, particularly when there was a strong association between the name and the visual target.
You see? Not only children can augment their thinking while doing some task!
Are there any other benefits other than being more likely to stay on task, staying focused better and showing improved perception capabilities?
Sure! Better memory. Think about it – when you talk out loud, you stimulate more sensory channels than when you subvocalize. You hear the sounds. What’s more, even though you may not realize it, your body feels the sound as it is conducted through your bones. Fun fact: Bone conduction is one reason why a person’s voice sounds different to him/her when it is recorded and played back.
Last but not least, every time when you say something out loud, you engage your emotions. One of the most powerful ingredients to boost your memory.
Research is great. But experiencing something the first hand is even better.
Choose some word you’d like to memorize and shout it out angrily or with joy and afterwards start laughing like a madman. I’ll be amazed if you can’t recall it a few days later.
Here’s a good example. I’m sure you remember this scene if you have seen the movie.
I hope that by this moment, you’re at least muttering to yourself!
Everybody has his favorite tricks to deal with anxiety. But the one which I find the most effective is simply preparing yourself for what’s about to come.
- Have a presentation?
Stand in front of the mirror and go through your presentation as many times as it’s necessary to turn it into a brilliant performance. Who knows? Maybe you will enjoy it that much that you will join Toastmasters.
- Have an interview?
Collect the list of 20-30 most frequently asked questions and rehearse the crap out of them!
- Want to confront your boss about the long overdue raise?
List all the possible questions that may come up during such a conversation and prepare your answers. Doing so will put you in a much better position when push comes to shove.
And so on. You get the idea. Proper preparation kills stress and anxiety.
What if I told you that you can actually learn a language without uttering a word to anyone else but yourself? You would probably think I’m crazy. And I certainly am. After all, I’m writing an article about talking to yourself.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I learned Swedish (B2 level) in order to get the job in less than 4 months without talking to anyone in Swedish (but myself). And while working 50+ hours per week.
Talking to yourself is actually one of the best (and cheapest!) ways to improve your language skills. Conversations with others always impose various limitations on you. It’s fully understandable – It’s much more important to keep the talk alive than to experiment with different grammar constructions or new vocabulary.
Talking to yourself enables you to concentrate on your weaknesses. Such deliberate practice can significantly improve your language level.
What should I talk about with myself?
About anything you want! That’s the beauty of such practice!
All conversations are based on the “action-reaction” principle. Somebody asks you some question. You answer. And it goes on and on. That’s why, if you want to prepare yourself for conversations with, say, friends from abroad, you should list potential questions that might come up, together with answers to them. Don’t forget about taking into consideration the interests of potential conversation partners!
Of course, you don’t have to come up with all the question by yourself.
I’d like to recommend you two fantastic websites which I have been using for many years:
They cover almost every socially acceptable topic which might crop up during your conversations. Together with some more “unusual” subjects, such as – eye contact or Jamaica (wtf?!).
If you discuss most of these subjects with yourself, I can guarantee you that you’ll be able to talk with every native speaker about almost anything you want. Isn’t it a definition of being fluent?
It’s only weird if you make it weird. You don’t have to rush to your friends to brag about this or even write an article about this (sic!). It’s just a tool to make you a better person.
It’s really perfectly normal. Do you know that computer scientists do it as well (not that it means anything!)?
Rubber duck debugging is an informal term used in software engineering for a method of debugging code. The name is a reference to a story in the book The Pragmatic Programmer in which a programmer would carry around a rubber duck and debug their code by forcing themselves to explain it, line-by-line, to the duck. Many other terms exist for this technique, often involving different inanimate objects.
So don’t be a weirdo and don’t feel ashamed to talk to yourself!
That’s right. You might use the self-talk for various things, such as:
- Energizing and motivating yourself – you can definitely psych yourself up with: “Come on!” “Let’s go!” “You can do this!”. Martial artists have been using screams for hundreds of years to give them some extra energy. I’m pretty sure there is a good reason for that.
- Playing devil’s advocate – find the weaknesses in your argumentation. Try to debunk your own theories. Saying your options out loud and elaborating on the pros and cons can help bring the right choice to light, and you might be surprised at the unexpected direction your thoughts take when they’re audible.
- Blowing off steam – don’t keep it all inside. If your colleague is a massive w*nker, say it out loud and berate him. Scientists actually found out that swearing can alleviate pain and decrease stress.
- Cheering yourself up – sometimes it just happens that others don’t appreciate you enough. So what? You can give yourself a pat on the back for being a great human being!
My spouse/brother/friend is talking to himself/herself a bit too much? Should I be worried?
Generally no. Unless you notice any of the two following symptoms.
- The self-talk is accompanied by general hostility towards others, cupping some object and calling it “my precious”
- It turns out that they are actually talking to the invisible friend called Jimmy
Remember, it’s not weird until you make it weird!