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Science Explains How Talking To Yourself Improves Your Brain Functions

Science Explains How Talking To Yourself Improves Your Brain Functions

Many of us start talking to ourselves when we are children. Speaking out loud and directing internal conversation at yourself is more intelligent (and less crazy) than you might think.

Why do people talk to themselves in the first place? If you imagine speaking to someone else to provide them with direction, speaking to yourself works in the same way. There are many reasons for self-directed speech, though most are reminding yourself to focus on what you’re doing. From looking for a pair of keys to shopping for a particular item in the supermarket, self-talk is all over the place.

Science explains self-talk

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    Directed internal (or external) thinking processes are significant because this behavior allows people to find things quicker, according to a study conducted by Gary Lupyan and Daniel Swingley. They found that you can enhance your visual system to detect an item by hearing the name of the item. Thus, when you talk out loud, you’re essentially cueing your system to get ready to perform better.

    The goal of the study was to see if self-directed talk has an effect on what you visually process. This was done by giving 26 undergraduates (50% male, 50% female) search tasks in a complex supermarket display. Lupyan concluded that hearing the name of the items actually assists with visual perception. Simply hearing the name of the item helped participants find the items better as opposed to only thinking about them.

    It was found that you can cue your visual system to detect items better. Participants in the study had to look for common objects. The more the word was spoken aloud differentiated from the object the participant was looking for, performance worsened. If precise labels were given, the participant’s performance improved.

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    Those little conversations you’ve had with yourself have been helping you all along. Next time you’re looking for something, speak out loud and test if you found it faster than normal. Want to increase your brain function? Make your brain perform better and do your bidding more easily by simply talking to yourself. The research suggests that doing it until it comes naturally to you will help you complete goals and tasks.

    The positive results of self-talk

    You’ve heard it before. There are so many benefits to visualizing what you’re looking to achieve. Things tend to go more according to plan if you’ve mapped out the plan in your mind beforehand. Seeing the goal accomplished in the mind’s eye actually helps you manifest it in daily life. Now you have more reasoning behind your daydreaming, it’s an early stage of the creation process.

    Visualize objects so you can actually see them better through your eyes. Being able to visualize an object helps you physically see it better.

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    The previous study summarized, “Speaking facilitated search, particularly when there was a strong association between the name and the visual target. As the discrepancy between the name and the target increased, speaking began to impair performance.”

    This indicates that if you’re searching for coffee online, for example, and you begin thinking about cell phones, this is going to render your search much more ineffective. You may think, “Of course, think about what you’re looking for while you’re looking.” However, you know how the mind can drift to other thoughts. Having internal focus can be a challenge for anyone. Luckily, simply speaking out loud will help you perform better.

    How can you best use self-talk in your life?

    Start talking to yourself! Are you having the most important conversations in life with yourself first? Talk to yourself through an interview, sales call, or conversation with your significant other. Science is on your side. Going through this simple exercise is worth your while. Though it may seem elementary, self-talk is actually high-level preparation and focus.

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    Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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