You might be in the midst of a trivial task like picking up the keys you have accidentally dropped, or deciding between coffee or tea. Or maybe you are second away from the biggest event in your life, like walking down the wedding aisle, or a presentation opportunity for a potentially huge client. At any of these given time, you might find that you start talking to yourself, be it in your head or even out loud.
If you do start feeling the need to have a conversation with yourself, please do not hesitate to do so because it is not strange and it does not mean that something is wrong with you.
The Science Behind Speaking to Yourself
According to Dr Laura F. Dabney, a psychotherapist from Virginia Beach, VA, talking to yourself is very common. In fact, more than half of us have active conversations with ourselves, be it quiet mutters or even soundless mouthing of words. “Öur brain triggers a conversation with ourselves when we feel a certain depth of emotion,” she adds. When an individual experiences deep emotions like anger, nervousness, excitement or even extreme focus, we tend to talk to ourselves.
By conversing with ourselves, we are forced to slow down our thoughts and we even end up processing our thoughts differently because we engage a different language centre in our brain. We become more conscious of what goes through our head and we take more time processing each information rather than being overwhelmed by the myriad of thoughts. This, in turn, lets us be better prepared for the incoming event.
Why should you talk to yourself?
In hard times, talking to yourself can give you some much-needed encouragement. According to Sheri McGregor, a life coach and author who works with parents dealing with estrangement from their children said that she uses this technique to help the parents first ‘mother themselves’ before they try to reconnect with their children. By talking to themselves in a positive and caring manner, the parents become less stressed, enabling them to think clearly and thereby, making it easier for these parents to bring across their feelings to their children.
Moreover, speaking to yourself functions as a way to remind yourself of your to-do lists, giving that systematic advantage than when you simply record them in your head. To make this even more effective, use self-distancing methods, such as referring to yourself as a second or third person like saying “Have you switched the air-conditioning off Amanda?” instead of “Did I switch off the air-conditioning?” This is because we become more emotionally-neutral towards the situation, improving rationality and ordered thinking.
Finally, self-talking is a great method of practising mindfulness. In mindfulness, we are taught to think in the present and be more aware of our surroundings. As speaking to yourself increases your focus to the particular topic in mind and gives a higher level of processing, we give ourselves a full revelation of the situation in a more objective manner.
So do not be wary the next time you find yourself having conversations with your mind for it just means that you are taking the effort to help you better manage and rationalise the situation you are in at that moment.