Benefits of talking to yourself

Is It Normal? – Cleveland Clinic

The ideal person for you to talk with while working through life’s many challenges might be closer than you think. (Hint: Just look in a mirror.)

Self-talk is a healthy way to build motivation, calm nerves or analyze a tricky situation. “It’s a useful way to check in with yourself and organize thoughts and feelings,” says health psychologist Grace Tworek, PsyD.

So, let’s get a conversation started on the topic.

Is self-talk healthy?

The practice of talking to yourself goes by many names. Some call it self-talk. Others refer to it as inner dialogue, inner monologue or inner speech. “There are so many terms for it because it really is just that normal,” notes Dr. Tworek.

So know that it’s OK to sit back and process things through an internal conversation. Taking the time to self-talk can decrease anxiety, boost self-esteem and increase productivity.

“It can be the pep talk you need at the time you need it most,” says Dr. Tworek.

Benefits of talking to yourself

So, what can you get out of a one-on-one chat with yourself? Here are some five potential benefits of self-talk, with sample conversation starters.

Critical thinking

Situational self-talk conversation starter: “How can the day get scheduled to get this to-do list done?”

This type of self-talk can help you break a situation down and organize your thoughts. Dr. Tworek explains it as “internal problem solving,” or a way to make a plan and stay on task moving forward.

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Increased focus

Situational self-talk conversation starter: “Keep an eye out for deer on this road.”

An internal conversation engages more areas of your brain, allowing you to better pay attention to what’s happening around you. “Self-talk can be a powerful tool during a situation that requires more concentration,” explains Dr. Tworek.

Stress reduction

Situational self-talk conversation starter: “Take a deep breath. It’s going to be OK.”

An internal monologue can be used to regulate your emotions when a day takes a tough and unexpected turn. Conversations in your head can be calming and help you keep things together. “It’s about telling yourself that everything will be all right.”


Situational self-talk conversation starter: “A five-mile run? That’s nothing. Let’s do it!”

Difficult tasks can feel daunting. Giving yourself a little encouragement can build confidence before taking on a challenging task. Studies show that self-talk can help athletes increase performance while in the cauldron of competition.

A personal check-in

Situational self-talk conversation starter: “What are you doing to yourself here?”

Ever lie in bed with your mind racing? Well, you’re the best person to step in and quiet the chatter in your head. “Tell yourself it’s time to take a break or get up and go in the other room for a few minutes,” suggests Dr. Tworek. “Give yourself permission to step away and relax.”

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Tips for productive self-talk

To get the most out of your personal chat with yourself, try these tips:

  1. Refer to yourself by name. Using your name instead of a pronoun allows you to self-distance to better process the conversation. “It gives you a little bit of emotional space,” says Dr. Tworek.
  2. Stay positive. “If you’re negatively talking to yourself, it’s not really going to increase or help your performance,” notes Dr. Tworek. “So don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, try to make the conversation uplifting and productive.”
  3. Emphasize your strengths. You know what you do best, right? Focus on your personal superpowers when you talk to yourself to build confidence and courage in whatever job awaits.

Is it OK to talk to yourself out loud?

There’s no rule that says your “inner dialogue” has to stay inside of your head. Talking to yourself out loud is perfectly normal. In some cases — such as when you’re trying to increase focus — it may even be more beneficial.

Be mindful of your setting, however. Talking to yourself might be ideal when you’re alone in your car or out on a hike, but it’s not as fitting if you’re on a crowded elevator.

“Make sure it’s appropriate for the moment,” says Dr. Tworek.

Can self-talk become a concern?

If self-talk is being driven by hallucinations — meaning you think you’re talking to another source — it’s best to seek out mental health services. Hallucinations could be a sign of conditions like schizophrenia.

“Self-talk needs to come with an awareness that you’re engaging with yourself,” explains Dr. Tworek.

Should you try talking to yourself?

If you’re comfortable doing it, absolutely. There’s something to gain by taking a few minutes to conduct an internal assessment. Think of it as a form of meditation where you gather your thoughts.

“In today’s hectic world, we often don’t take the time to literally just engage with ourselves,” says Dr. Tworek. “Don’t be afraid to get into your own head.”

The surprising benefits of talking to yourself

Story highlights

Inner talk helps us organize our thoughts, plan actions, and consolidate memory

Now, researchers find that talking out loud improves your control over a task

Being caught talking to yourself, especially if using your own name in the conversation, is beyond embarrassing. And it’s no wonder – it makes you look like you are hallucinating.

Clearly, this is because the entire purpose of talking aloud is to communicate with others. But given that so many of us do talk to ourselves, could it be normal after all – or perhaps even healthy?

We actually talk to ourselves silently all the time. I don’t just mean the odd “where are my keys?” comment – we actually often engage in deep, transcendental conversations at 3am with nobody else but our own thoughts to answer back.

This inner talk is very healthy indeed, having a special role in keeping our minds fit. It helps us organise our thoughts, plan actions, consolidate memory and modulate emotions. In other words, it helps us control ourselves.

Talking out loud can be an extension of this silent inner talk, caused when a certain motor command is triggered involuntarily. The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget observed that toddlers begin to control their actions as soon as they start developing language. When approaching a hot surface, the toddler will typically say “hot, hot” out loud and move away. This kind of behaviour can continue into adulthood.

It feels instantaneous, but how long does it really take to think a thought?

Non-human primates obviously don’t talk to themselves but have been found to control their actions by activating goals in a type of memory that is specific to the task. If the task is visual, such as matching bananas, a monkey activates a different area of the prefrontal cortex than when matching voices in an auditory task.

But when humans are tested in a similar manner, they seem to activate the same areas regardless of the type of task.

Pictured here is an MRI image of a human brain.


How language is processed by your brain

In a fascinating study, researchers found that our brains can operate much like those of monkeys if we just stop talking to ourselves – whether it is silently or out loud.

In the experiment, the researchers asked participants to repeat meaningless sounds out loud (“blah-blah-blah”) while performing visual and sound tasks. Because we cannot say two things at the same time, muttering these sounds made participants unable to tell themselves what to do in each task. Under these circumstances, humans behaved like monkeys do, activating separate visual and sound areas of the brain for each task.

This study elegantly showed that talking to ourselves is probably not the only way to control our behaviour, but it is the one that we prefer and use by default. But this doesn’t mean that we can always control what we say.

Indeed, there are many situations in which our inner talk can become problematic. When talking to ourselves at 3am, we typically really try to stop thinking so we can go back to sleep. But telling yourself not to think only sends your mind wandering, activating all kinds of thoughts – including inner talk – in an almost random way.

Why you shouldn’t blame lying on the brain

This kind of mental activation is very difficult to control, but seems to be suppressed when we focus on something with a purpose. Reading a book, for example, should be able to suppress inner talk in a quite efficient way, making it a favourite activity to relax our minds before falling asleep.

The Dalai Lama presides over the Emory-Tibet symposium of Scholars and Scientists held at the Drepung Monastic University in December.

Jen Christensen/CNN

Meaningful mindfulness: How it could help you be happier, healthier and more successful

But researchers have found that patients suffering from anxiety or depression activate these “random” thoughts even when they are trying to perform some unrelated task. Our mental health seems to depend on both our ability to activate thoughts relevant to the current task and to suppress the irrelevant ones – mental noise.

Not surprisingly, several clinical techniques, such as mindfulness, aim to declutter the mind and reduce stress. When mind wandering becomes completely out of control, we enter a dreamlike state displaying incoherent and context-inappropriate talk that could be described as mental illness.

So your inner talk helps to organise your thoughts and flexibly adapt them to changing demands, but is there anything special about talking out loud? Why not just keep it to yourself, if there is nobody else to hear your words?

In a recent experiment in our laboratory at Bangor University, Alexander Kirkham and I demonstrated that talking out loud actually improves control over a task, above and beyond what is achieved by inner speech.

We gave 28 participants a set of written instructions, and asked to read them either silently or out loud. We measured participants’ concentration and performance on the tasks, and both were improved when task instructions had been read aloud.

‘Anumeric’ people: What happens when a language has no words for numbers?

Much of this benefit appears to come from simply hearing oneself, as auditory commands seem to be better controllers of behaviour than written ones. Our results demonstrated that, even if we talk to ourselves to gain control during challenging tasks, performance substantially improves when we do it out loud.

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    • This can probably help explain why so many sports professionals, such as tennis players, frequently talk to themselves during competitions, often at crucial points in a game, saying things like “Come on!” to help them stay focused. Our ability to generate explicit self instructions is actually one of the best tools we have for cognitive control, and it simply works better when said aloud.

      So there you have it. Talking out loud, when the mind is not wandering, could actually be a sign of high cognitive functioning. Rather than being mentally ill, it can make you intellectually more competent.

      The stereotype of the mad scientist talking to themselves, lost in their own inner world, might reflect the reality of a genius who uses all the means at their disposal to increase their brain power.

      Paloma Mari-Beffa is a senior lecturer in neuropsychology and cognitive psychology at Bangor University.

      Grool The Benefits of Talking to Yourself (and How to Do It Right)



      The Benefits of Talking to Yourself - Overcoming Stage Fright

      Everyone has their favorite tricks to deal with anxiety. But I think talking to myself is the most effective way to prepare for an upcoming performance.

      Getting ready for a presentation?

      Stand in front of a mirror and watch the presentation as many times as necessary to make it a brilliant performance. Who knows? Perhaps you will like it so much that you will join the toastmasters.

      Going for an interview?

      Make a list of the 20-30 most frequently asked questions and rehearse them!

      Want to openly talk to your boss about a long-awaited promotion?

      Make a list of the 20-30 most frequently asked questions and rehearse them! List all the possible questions that might come up during this conversation and prepare your answers. By doing so, you will be in a much better position when the critical moment arrives.

      And so on. Well, you get the idea.

      Proper preparation relieves stress and anxiety.

      Benefits of talking to yourself - practicing languages ​​

      What if I told you that you can learn a language without saying a word to anyone but yourself? You probably think I'm crazy. And of course I am. After all, I'm writing an article about talking to myself.
      But that doesn't change the fact that I learned Swedish (level B2) to get a job in less than four months without speaking Swedish to anyone (except myself). And all this during his main job, which takes 50+ hours a week.
      Talking to yourself is one of the best (and cheapest!) ways to improve your language skills. Conversations with other people always impose various restrictions on you. This is quite understandable - it is much more important to keep the conversation going than to experiment with different grammatical structures or a new vocabulary.
      Talking to yourself allows you to focus on your weaknesses. This early practice can greatly improve your language level.

      How to overcome the feeling of strangeness of talking to yourself?

      It's only weird when you yourself think it's weird. You don't have to rush to your friends to brag about it, and you don't have to write an article about it. It's just a tool that will make you better.
      This is perfectly normal. Did you know that computer scientists do this too?

      Rubber duck debugging is an informal term used in software engineering for a method of debugging code. The title is a reference to a story in The Pragmatic Programmer in which a programmer wore a rubber duck and debugged his code by forcing himself to explain it line by line to the duck. There are many other terms for this technique, often including various inanimate objects.

      So don't be weird and feel free to talk to yourself!

      Other benefits of talking to yourself

      You can use talking to yourself for a variety of situations, such as:

      • Energize and motivate yourself - you can pull yourself together: "Come on!" "Let's go to!" "You can do it!" Martial artists have been using screaming for hundreds of years to give themselves extra energy. I am sure that there is absolutely every reason for this.
      • Play "devil's advocate" - find weaknesses in your argument. Try to debunk your theories. Saying your options out loud and detailing the pros and cons will help illuminate the right choice, and you may be surprised at the unexpected direction of your thoughts when they are voiced.
      • Steam release - do not keep everything inside. If your colleague is a huge jerk, say it out loud and scold him (alone, of course). Scientists have found that swearing can relieve pain and reduce stress.
      • Cheer yourself up - sometimes it happens that others do not appreciate you enough. So what? You can pat yourself on the back and say you are a great guy!

      What are the benefits of talking to yourself?


      • What is self-talk?
      • How does self-talk work?
        • Positive self-talk
        • Rumination: negative self-talk
      • Language matters
      • Where to start
        • Listen and study
        • Think about this
      • Transfiguration Transfall
        • Example 2
        • Example 3
      • You can only win
        • Q:
        • Q:
        • Q:
        • Q:
        • Q:
        • Q:
        • Q:
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        • q:

      Understanding Self Talk

      Take a moment and think about what you said to yourself today. Was it critical? Or was it kind and helpful? How did you feel after you entered into this internal discussion?

      Your thoughts are the source of your emotions and moods. The conversations you have with yourself can be destructive or helpful. They affect how you feel about yourself and how you react to events in your life.

      What is self-talk?

      Talking to yourself is something you do naturally during your waking hours. People are increasingly realizing that positive self-talk is a powerful tool to increase self-confidence and contain negative emotions. It is believed that people who are able to conduct a positive internal dialogue are more confident, motivated and productive.

      How does self-talk work?

      While positive self-talk comes naturally to some, most people need to learn how to cultivate positive thoughts and dispel negative ones. With practice, it may become more natural to think of good thoughts rather than bad ones.

      Positive self-talk

      Positive self-talk supports and confirms. Consider the following two inner statements:

      • "I'm going to speak at the meeting today because I have something important to contribute." It sounds like a positive plan and attitude.
      • "I don't think I want to speak in the meeting today because I'll look stupid if I say the wrong thing." Compare this negative comment with the statement above.

      Rumination: negative self-talk

      Rumination is the other side of positive self-talk. It happens when you replay upsetting or embarrassing thoughts or events over and over in your head. Thinking about a problem can be helpful, but if you spend a lot of time thinking, small problems tend to snowball. Constant rumination can make you more prone to depression or anxiety.

      This statement shows that negative thoughts can grow and become self-destructive:

      “I look so fat in this dress. I'm really fat. Look at those thighs. No wonder I can't find a date. Why can't I lose weight? It's impossible. "

      Language matters

      Researchers have found that it's not just what you say to yourself that matters, but what language you say it in. One 2014 report describes the role of language in self-talk. What is the key? When practicing self-talk, do not refer to yourself in the first person, such as "I" or "I." Instead, refer to yourself in the third person using "he" or "she" or refer to yourself by your first name.

      Brené Brown, University of Houston Graduate College professor and motivational speaker, calls the negative voices in his head his gremlins. By giving her negative thoughts a name, she both moves away from them and ridicules them.

      The report goes on to say that using a third person when talking to yourself can help you take a step back and think more objectively about your reactions and emotions, whether you're thinking about a past event or looking to the future. It can also help you reduce stress and anxiety.

      Getting Started

      Listening and Learning

      Spend a few days listening carefully to your inner dialogues. Are you supporting yourself? Are you critical or negative? Would you be comfortable speaking these thoughts and words to your loved one? Are common themes or themes recurring? Write down important or frequent negative thoughts.

      Think about it

      Ask yourself the following questions about each of the thoughts you listed:

      • Am I overreacting? Is it really that important? Does it matter in the long run?
      • Am I generalizing too much? Am I coming to a conclusion based more on opinion or experience than on facts?
      • Do I read minds? Do I assume that others have certain beliefs or feelings? I wonder how they will react?
      • Am I labeling myself harshly? Do you refer to yourself using words like "stupid", "hopeless" or "fat"?
      • Is this an all-or-nothing thought? Do I consider one incident to be good or bad, regardless of the fact that reality is rarely black or white? The answer usually lies in the gray area between them.
      • How true and accurate is this thought? Take a step back and think about the accuracy of your thought, as a friend would.

      Gear Shifter

      Now that you have a better understanding of how your inner thoughts are distorted, it's time to switch and explore a new approach to talking to yourself. Look back at the thoughts on your list and reframe them in a kinder, more positive light.

      Example 1

      • “What an idiot! I really ruined this presentation. Well, this is the end of my career."
      • Alternative: “I can do better. I will prepare and rehearse more next time. Maybe I'll take a public speaking course. It would be good for my career."

      Example 2

      • “I can't do this in just one week. It's impossible."
      • Alternative: “There is much to be done, but I will do it one step at a time. I guess I'll see if my friends can help too."

      Example 3

      • “How funny! I can't train myself to think more positively."
      • Alternative: “Learning to think positively can help me in many ways. I'm going to try."

      Check out: Top 5 mental health telemedicine companies »

      You can only win

      Casting out your inner critic and teaching productive, positive inner conversations has no downside.

      Learn more