Are you talking to yourself?
Let's face it, at some point in my adult life, I’ve talked to myself — in my head, or even out loud. We all have. Some people do it on the regular and even find it helpful.
One friend of mine, Sophia Caroline, uses Facebook to say beautiful things to herself.
“The truth is that we all talk to ourselves,” said Vironika Tugaleva, the author of The Art of Talking to Yourself. It might look strange if you do it out loud in public, but we all have intricate multi-level conversations in our heads, Tugaleva said, as a way to give meaning to and explain to ourselves the things that happen during our days.
Talking to yourself has benefits
Fostering a habit of having conversations with yourself can be both healthy and helpful, says Sheri McGregor, a life coach and the author of Done With The Crying.
McGregor works with parents dealing with estrangement from a child, but she said that talking to yourself in positive ways can help anyone going through a similarly tough time.
“I tell my clients and readers that talking to themselves in a caring manner can be a way to mother themselves.” It’s a way to soothe yourself and focus on the positives instead of worries and stressors.
These hard times are when people often have conversations with themselves. For example, when trying to make a difficult decision in an emotional situation, or working to cope with strong emotions, said Itamar Shatz, a linguistics PhD candidate at U.K.’s Cambridge University.
Talk yourself through everyday problems
Talking to yourself can also function as a way to remind ourselves of things on our to-do lists, or as a means to deal with smaller or more situational problems, life coach McGregor said.
The next time you’re nervous about a presentation, have a conversation with yourself to go over your fears and present constructive solutions, or to remind yourself how prepared you are. Avoid self-talk that is sabotaging or allows you to spiral into worries.
You can make this kind of talk more productive by using self-distancing methods where you refer to yourself in the second or third person, said Shatz, who has done research on the technique.
“For example, if you are anxious before giving a public presentation, instead of saying to yourself ‘why am I so nervous?’ you could say ‘why are you so nervous?’ or ‘why is Jane so nervous?,’” he explained.
“Research shows that doing this allows you to view the situation in a more emotionally-neutral manner, which improves your ability to cope with your emotions and make rational decisions.”
Make talking to yourself a habit
In fact, talking to yourself is tied to mindfulness — a practice that is becoming increasingly popular.
“Mindfulness comes first because it brings awareness not only to one’s thoughts, but the words people mutter to themselves,” McGregor said.
During hard times, our minds can take us to dark places, which is why — just as with meditation — making positive self-talk a habit takes some work, but is a good practice to foster.
There is no downside to encouraging self-talk. Make it a habit. Pick a time or place for a self-talk session. Try using self-talk after a stressful event during your day, for instance, and seeing what does and doesn’t help you cope or feel better.
Consider keeping a journal for a week to take note on its effectiveness for you. You may talk yourself into some wonderful things.