Have you ever felt like your mind was so overwhelmed with a lot of different thoughts, and you need a break from everything to organize your thoughts? If your answer is yes, then this article will help you realize the benefits of speaking to yourself when alone and how you can do this effectively to get the desired results.
The urge to talk to oneself can arise for several reasons. It can arise out of anger at a colleague’s behavior, frustration because you are late for a meeting and can’t find your car keys, or anxiety because of a big presentation you have to make to your boss. It can sometimes be a subconscious act which sometimes can cause us embarrassment if done in public.
Although it may be regarded as a possible symptom of mania or at the very least an unusual trait, research has shown that talking to oneself can have extensive benefits. From helping with the trivial things like finding your keys to getting ready for an interview for a big promotion, talking to yourself could be a useful tool in navigating through everyday activities.
The same way we share our problems with friends and colleagues for the purpose of receiving advice or to bounce our ideas off them, we can speak to ourselves about our challenges, using the instrumentality of language to more deliberately construct the problem and attempt to proffer a solution for it. Speaking to yourself forces you to concentrate your attention on one problem at a time; instead of thinking about a myriad of issues all at once, you are compelled to slow down your thought process and become more systematic in dealing with those issues.
When ideas or thoughts are conceived for the first time, before deliberately meditating on them, they are still majorly abstract ideas not fully formed and not adequately grasped or comprehended. However, when you think deliberately about them, you attach words to those ideas, crystallizing them and giving them form or structure which allows you to approach the ideas systemically.
The expression used in psychology to refer to talking to oneself is called “self-talk.” Self-talk can be either instructional or motivational. An instructional self-talk borders mainly on figuring out the methodology of achieving a goal or set objective while motivational self-talk is putting yourself in the right state of mind to undertake a task or event.
The benefits of talking to yourself are tremendous—here are some which will inspire you to action:
Talking to yourself while trying to accomplish a task increases your attention and focus. It brings back your attention to the task and helps to ignore possible distractions. Therefore, whether you are overwhelmed with life’s usual concerns or you are in a crowded room with a lot of noise, speaking to yourself about the task might help with the distraction. Speaking out the words you want to concentrate has the effect of drowning out other distractions and helps you focus on the task at hand.
Better decision making
By explaining a problem or challenge to yourself out loud, your thoughts are better organized. As a result, the problem is more clearly defined, and ultimately, the decision-making is better. Speaking out loud increases objectivity as each idea can be evaluated in its actual form and not in an abstract or indefinite form. Organizing your thoughts by speaking them yourself allows you to consider all the options individually and evaluate each alternative by considering its pros and cons.
Anyone who has been a student can probably attest to this. You learn and retain information not just by receiving information but by repeating the information. The information need not be repeated in the exact original form in which it was received but repeating the information in your own words contextualizes the information by prompting a visual perception of the concept and makes the absorption more efficient. This is the reason teaching is one of the most efficient ways of learning. Therefore, instead of teaching another person, you can teach yourself about a concept, explaining it aloud to yourself in your own words.
Learn more about yourself
Every human being is a deeply complex and exciting individual with extensive idiosyncrasies and peculiarities and one of the best ways to get to know a person is by having intense and deep conversations with them. Therefore in the quest for self-discovery or self-realization, speaking to yourself alone is certain to reveal dimensions of yourself to you that will amaze and excite you. It will reveal the attributes that you would like to improve on or get rid of and those you want to make more noticeable to others.
Reminding yourself of your strengths and abilities through “motivational self-talk” is an effective way of facing difficult tasks with the right attitude. While telling yourself your strong points may sound immodest or cheeky at the very least, it is very effective in approaching a difficult assignment or goal with the right mindset.
Increases commitment to achieving your goals
Whether it’s the goal of losing a few pounds, learning a new language, or reaching some professional milestone, speaking to yourself about your goals and how you will achieve them makes them more real as you subconsciously prioritize them and work towards them.
How to speak to yourself
While speaking to yourself is immensely beneficial, it is equally important to understand the effective ways of talking to yourself. The mere fact that you are speaking to yourself doesn’t matter as much as what you are saying and how you say it. Below are some tips on how to talk to yourself:
1. Address yourself in the second person
You know how it seems everybody always knows (or at least they feel they do) the best solution to other people’s problems but never seem to have a handle on theirs? It’s because it is easier to evaluate a situation and proffer solutions when an emotional distance is maintained. Using the second person pronoun “You” instead of the first person “I” creates an impression of a psychological distance on the brain, reducing the emotional pressure on our thought processes. Consequently, emotions are somewhat detached from your thought processes and your decisions are more rational.
2. Stop negative thoughts
Although it is important to be truthful, as the aim of speaking to yourself is not for self-deceit but self-development, you must be careful to avoid negativity. Harboring negative thoughts about yourself creates negative results which in turn reinforces the negative thoughts, thereby creating a vicious cycle of negativity. Therefore, it is okay to sometimes say “Stop” and start all over again. Admittedly, outright prevention of negative thoughts might be impossible as you cannot stop the initial thought, but you can always stop a negative thought before it grows and becomes a problem.
3. Speak out loud
Although, it’s not compulsory to speak to yourself aloud while alone, speaking out loud has some benefits. This is most useful when alone. Merely thinking thoughts is not necessarily bad but while they are still in the deep recesses of your mind, they are just thoughts, and you probably have thousands of them every day. However, when you speak those thoughts out, you have deliberately given them a higher level of importance, separating them from the myriad of other thoughts you have. You have also defined them by actual words, conceptualizing them.
4. Ask yourself questions
It is more effective to ask yourself questions while talking to yourself rather than merely making affirmative statements. This is probably because asking yourself questions raises your curiosity and your mind is automatically engaged in looking for answers. This is particularly helpful when you are engaged in unfamiliar undertakings because it will be difficult to reassure yourself of your abilities where they have never been tested. So ask yourself some questions when alone.
5. Give yourself instructions
Basketball players have been known to tell themselves what to do before acting. Telling yourself what to do increases your attention and enhances self-control. Therefore, instead of telling yourself to do well, tell yourself what to do. You can also go further and think of how to do it.
6. Use invigorating language
What you say to yourself is important; however, also equally important is how you say it. In conversations between people, while what is said is important, how it is said matters a great deal. For example, a football team down by two goals at halftime will go out firing on all cylinders in the second half after a pep talk by the coach, which depends on what is said and how it is said. While it might be difficult to get enthusiastic while talking to yourself, mustering sufficient excitement to talk to yourself about a task ensures that you’re excited about the task itself. So when talking to yourself use an upbeat tone or language.