My mother always says if she didn’t talk to herself, no one would listen to her. While her sentiment is comically cynical, there is some truth to it. Talking through your thoughts can be incredibly beneficial to your memory and cognitive functioning, as well as your mental and physical health. While you may catch some odd looks from people if you get caught talking to yourself at length in public, just take comfort in knowing that doing so is keeping you well-adjusted to the hectic day and age we live in. Talking to yourself helps:
1. Your brain work more efficiently
I hate grocery shopping, mostly because I can never find what I’m looking for. I find myself muttering “cilantro, cilantro, cilantro…” as I sort through various herbs and spices in search of the only one I’ll ever be able to recognize without a label. I’m glad to find I’m not the only one. A study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that people who repeat the name of an item they’re looking for were able to find it much quicker than those who silently lurched through the store. The hypothesis is that repeating words aloud sparks memory recall of known objects, making them more tangible and likely to stick out to an observer.
2. Children learn
If you have or work with children, you know they almost never shut up! But that’s a good thing. As children grow, they use their voice to mimic adult conversation (okay, that’s not always good). But they learn vocal inflection, vocabulary, and syntax by listening to and repeating what their parents say. It also helps them work through problems and processes, as they put operations in sequential order. If you’ve ever sung the Peanut Butter and Jelly song with a kid, you’ve seen how well this works first-hand.
3. Organize thoughts
In today’s busy world, we have a million thoughts running through our heads at all times. Our thoughts get jumbled up in our minds and can become incredibly overwhelming if left unchecked. Talking through your thoughts, much like children do, helps you prioritize the “big things” affecting you. It also helps us realize the “small stuff” is fairly insignificant, and we had been making mountains out of molehills. By talking out our thoughts, we’re able to make much more sense of the world around us.
4. Achieve goals
Making a to-do list sounds like a great idea, but if the list gets too long it can be overwhelming. Not only does talking through your list of obligations help prioritize them, but it also makes your goals seem attainable. Much like repeating “corn flakes” over and over at the store subconsciously jogs your recall and makes “corn flakes” a tangible item in your mind, talking through your to-do list allows you to visualize yourself completing the tasks you’ve written down. Psychologist Linda Sapadin reports that saying your goals out loud “focuses your attention, reinforces the message, controls your runaway emotions and screens out distractions.”
5. Relieve stress
Since talking to yourself allows you to organize your thoughts and prioritize your obligations, your mind isn’t constantly racing, wondering when you’re going to have enough time to get it all done. In turn, you’ll become more relaxed and able to go with the flow. Furthermore, talking to yourself helps you prepare for difficult times in life, such as a conversation with a loved one, colleague, or boss. Whether giving yourself a simple pep talk or rehearsing what you’re going to say, hearing the words come out of your mouth make the action doable, and allowing you to face tough situations with courage and confidence.
6. Foster self-reliance
Those that talk to themselves look inward when they need help solving a problem. While others may automatically go to a colleague or supervisor when in need of assistance, people who talk to themselves are able to analyze situations and come to conclusions independently without any outside guidance. Also, by talking to ourselves, we listen to our inner voice, and discover what it is we truly want to get out an experience. Simply put, those that spend the time talking and listening to themselves, know themselves best.
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