Is Talking To Yourself Bad? 16 Scientific Reasons Why It Isn’t (2021)

7 min read

If you’re worried that you’ve been talking out loud to yourself and feel this habit is a little strange, you can rest easy – you’re not going crazy.

Private or self-directed speech (scientific terms for talking to yourself) can actually benefit your mental health as well as in a number of other benefits.

Here’s how:

Is Talking To Yourself Bad
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1. Motivate You

Words of encouragement are usually much more effective when you say them out loud rather than simply think them.

Hearing your own positive self-talk often helps reinforce a motivational energy you might sometimes require.

2. Stay Focused

In the middle of a difficult task, think about it, do you ever talk yourself through it?

Explaining processes or written instructions to yourself aloud can help you see solutions when working through problems or on tasks like assembling furniture or something more complex.

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3. Find Things

According to 2012 research, saying the name of whatever you’re looking for out loud can help you find it more easily than simply thinking about the item.

The authors of the study suggest this works because hearing the name of the item reminds your brain what you’re looking for.

4. Process Difficult Feelings 

Taking time to sit with difficult emotions can help you unpack them and separate potential worries from more realistic concerns.

While this can be internal dialogue, in your head or on paper, saying things aloud can help ground them in reality and make them seem less upsetting.

5. Find Answers 

Ask yourself “What might help here to get this done?” or “What does this mean?” try answering your own question (this can have particular benefit if you’re trying to grasp new material).

It can help you take a second look at whatever you’re trying to do or want to understand. Then you can figure out your next step.

6. Reduce Anxiety 

A 2014 study suggests that people with anxiety, including social anxiety, benefit from engaging in self-talk.

Having people refer to themselves in second or third-person could give them enough distance to help reduce anxiety from distressing feelings and process, regulate, and analyze these emotions to their benefit. Engaging in self-talk may also decrease anxiety after stressful events.

7. More Conscious

Sorting through your thoughts by speaking them aloud can help you be more conscious about what goes through your mind.

Speaking out loud forces us to slow down our thoughts and process them differently. You can purposely turn them around to reflect something positive you can believe.

8. Boost Self Esteem or Self Worth

Here, the focus is on the content or quality of the self-talk. It can go either way. If you find your self talk is negative, the results in your sense of self and behavior will also be negative.

Probably not what you really want. Whereas, positive self talk will boost your self esteem and give you the results you want.

9. Boost Confidence

Talking out loud with positive words, hearing oneself, as auditory commands that are inspiring and supportive will help to boost confidence in yourself, your abilities and your performance.

This is especially true if spoken in second or third person.

Talking To Yourself
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10. Calms The Nerves

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.

11. Mothering Oneself 

Self-talk in a caring manner can be a way to mother yourself. It’s a way to soothe yourself and focus on the positives instead of worries and stressors.

12. Children Learn 

Children use their voice to learn vocal inflection, vocabulary, and syntax by listening to and repeating what their parents say.

It also helps them work through problems and processes, as they put operations in sequential order.

13. Fosters Self Reliance

People who engage in self talk are able to analyze situations and come to conclusions independently without any outside guidance. They’re more self directed.

Also, by using self talk, you listen to your inner voice, and discover what it is you truly want to get out of an experience.

14. Talk Yourself Down 

First, remove yourself from a bad situation then talk yourself down in third person. 

It’s many people’s go-to strategy for dealing with negative emotions, and anecdotal evidence suggests it works to a near-miraculous degree.

15. Emotional Self Control 

Talking to yourself does more than put the lid back on negative motions; it can keep that lid from coming off in the first place. People who self talk are better controllers of their emotions.

16. Reinforces Memory 

Researchers tested four methods for retaining written information. They found that the best way to retain information could come from simply hearing oneself read it out loud.

This study confirms that your performance with learning and memory benefit from active involvement.

Is It Unhealthy To Talk To Yourself?

Talking through your thoughts can be incredibly beneficial to your memory and cognitive functioning, as well as your mental and physical health.

While you may catch some odd looks from people if you’re caught talking to yourself at length in public, take comfort in knowing that doing so is keeping you well-adjusted to the hectic day and age we live in.

  • Talking to yourself is a healthy, widespread tendency among children and adults.
  • Research suggests the practice supplies a bevy of benefits, from improved brain performance to greater emotional control.
  • Self-talk is most beneficial when it combines thought and action or reinforces an instructional framework.
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Is It Normal To Talk To Yourself?

Not only is talking to yourself out loud perfectly normal, it’s actually beneficial in a variety of ways — as well as potentially being “a sign of high cognitive functioning,” according to Paloma Mari-Beffa, PhD, a neuropsychologist, cognitive psychologist and lecturer at Bangor University, who is one of the prominent researchers on the phenomenon of self-talk.

We all talk to ourselves, whether it’s aloud or silent inner speech. Science suggests it’s actually a sign of intelligence, not mental illness. So you’re not crazy.

Our culture views talking to yourself as a habit for eccentrics. Movies depict unhinged characters through herky-jerky self-mutterings.

For example, when people see an approaching pedestrian disagreeing with himself, they cross the street. And when a friend catches you in a solo performance of your thoughts, you clam up with an expression of sheepish guilt.

So, It’s not only normal, it can be crucial. Becoming aware of the quality of this inner speech is a path to happiness and fulfillment.

Is Self Talking A Disorder?

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 behavior can continue into adulthood.

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 activated separate visual and sound areas of the brain for each task.

This research elegantly showed that talking to ourselves is probably not the only way to control our behavior, but it is the one that we prefer and use by default.

“Inner talk is very healthy indeed,” according to Paloma Mari-Beffa, “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, as long as it’s positive and supportive.

It causes no significant health risks unless a person also experiences other symptoms of a mental health condition, such as hallucinations.

Self-Directed Speech
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What Mental Illness Causes You To Talk To Yourself?

Some mental disorders do manifest the symptom of self-talk, such as schizophrenia. Some people wonder if frequently talking to themselves suggests they have an underlying mental health condition like this, but this usually isn’t the case.

The habit is extensive among the mentally sound, too.

While people with conditions that affect psychosis such as schizophrenia may appear to talk to themselves, this generally happens as a result of auditory hallucinations. In other words, they often aren’t talking to themselves, but replying to a voice only they can hear.

If you hear voices or experience other hallucinations, it’s best to seek professional support right away.

Further, if you find yourself engaging in self-talk that involves repetitive numbers, phrases, or mantras and it’s becoming disruptive or hard to stop, this could be an emotional issue that’s worth exploring with a qualified medical professional.

A trained therapist can offer compassionate guidance and help you explore potential causes of these symptoms.

A therapist can also offer support if you:

  • want to stop talking to yourself but can’t break the habit on your own
  • feel distressed or uncomfortable about talking to yourself
  • experience bullying or another stigma because you talk to yourself
  • notice you mostly talk down to yourself

Talking To Yourself In Private

Think of everyday scenarios where you might talk to yourself.

For example, as you’re leaving the house, to make sure you have what you require, you might say out loud, keys, coat, bag, lunch, to yourself as a checklist.

Or on the way home from work, you might go over a stressful conversation you had with a boss, venting about it to yourself.

Also, anytime you have a task to finish. Auditory commands seem to be better accomplished when you say it out loud to yourself rather than written ones. So your tasks can get done more efficiently by self talk. 

Is Talking To Yourself A Sign Of Loneliness?

Though we live in a noisy world, many people struggle with too much silence in their lives. Especially recently, many people are feeling lonely.

When you’re feeling lonely, chances are you’re neglecting to give enough attention to a very special person. One who is always there with you.

Who is that person? Why, you, of course. So, talk to yourself. Not just in your head, out loud. Make it something motivational.

Talking to yourself not only relieves loneliness, it may also make your brain smarter.

Give your body the instructions to:

  • clarify your thoughts
  • tend to important tasks
  • firm up any decisions you’re contemplating
  • improve your performance for your own sake

There’s just one proviso: You become smarter only if you speak respectfully to that one special person – that’s you.

Self-talk is not only completely normal, but has many benefits in the long run for your life — and it may just help you with that task of finding your keys.

If self-talk inconveniences you or causes other problems, a therapist can help you explore strategies to get more comfortable with it or even break the habit, if you choose.

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Just know that you can make your internal or external dialogue a very positive thing for yourself. 

If you’ve related well to this article ✅, share it with anyone else you know who wonders if talking to yourself is bad and they could benefit from it too.

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