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Is it normal to talk to yourself?

that inner voice will stay with you

By Shelby AndersonPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
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Is it normal to talk to yourself?
Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

As the blaring sound of your morning alarm pierces the silence, you find yourself muttering, "Why did I set it so early?" This thought continues to linger as you go about your morning routine, contemplating the need for a haircut while diligently brushing your teeth. In the haste of rushing out the front door, the realization strikes—you've misplaced your keys. Frustration builds, and you exclaim, "I can't do anything right!" Only then do you notice your neighbor, witnessing this moment of self-dialogue.

The act of talking to oneself can carry a stigma, with some individuals associating it with signs of mental instability. However, a wealth of psychological research spanning decades affirms that engaging in self-talk is not only common but entirely normal. Indeed, most, if not all, individuals partake in some form of self-dialogue on a daily basis. The questions that arise from this phenomenon are: Why do we talk to ourselves, and does the content of our internal conversations matter?

Self-talk, also known as inner speech, refers to the narrative that unfolds within one's mind. It goes beyond mental imagery or the recollection of facts and figures. Psychologists specifically define self-talk as the verbalized thoughts directed towards oneself or aspects of one's life. This encompasses personal conversations such as "I need to work on my free throw," as well as reflections on daily occurrences, like "The gym is crowded tonight; I'll come back tomorrow." While much of adult self-talk tends to be silent, speaking out loud also falls within the spectrum of this phenomenon.

The roots of self-talk can be traced back to childhood, where vocalized self-dialogue is often observed as children play. In the 1930s, Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky proposed that this outward speech played a pivotal role in development. By repeating conversations with adults, children practice managing their behaviors and emotions independently. As individuals age, this outward self-talk tends to transition into an internalized, private inner dialogue.

Understanding the significance of internal self-talk is crucial, as it aids in planning, navigating challenging situations, and serving as a motivator throughout the day. However, studying self-talk poses challenges, relying on subjects to consciously track a spontaneous behavior often executed without explicit control. Scientists are still grappling with fundamental questions, including why some individuals engage in self-talk more frequently, which areas of the brain are activated during such moments, and how this activation differs from typical conversations.

Nevertheless, the impact of self-talk on attitude and performance is indisputable. Engaging in instructional or motivational self-talk has been shown to enhance focus, boost self-esteem, and facilitate the completion of everyday tasks. For instance, a study on collegiate tennis players demonstrated that incorporating instructional self-talk into practice heightened concentration and accuracy.

Interestingly, the nature of self-talk can be categorized into different forms. Distanced self-talk involves addressing oneself as if in conversation with another person, providing a unique perspective. This approach has proven particularly beneficial in reducing stress during anxiety-inducing tasks, such as meeting new people or public speaking.

While positive self-talk can be a powerful ally, negative self-talk poses potential harm. Occasional self-criticism is common, but a pervasive and excessively negative internal dialogue can become toxic. High levels of negative self-talk often predict anxiety in both children and adults, contributing to more intense feelings of depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a prominent psychological treatment, has a focus on regulating the tone of self-talk. Therapists employing CBT often teach strategies to identify cycles of negative thoughts, replacing them with neutral or compassionate reflections. Over time, these tools can contribute significantly to improved mental health.

In light of this, the next time you find yourself engaged in a conversation with yourself, remember the importance of kindness. That inner voice is a lifelong companion, and fostering a positive and compassionate internal dialogue is an investment in your mental well-being for the years to come.

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About the Creator

Shelby Anderson

I like writing about many things

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