You know that little noisy voice in your head that comments on your life, whether that is what is going on around you, or what you are thinking consciously or subconsciously is popularly known as self-talk or your internal dialogue- to state it simply they are your thoughts!
All of us have an internal dialogue, and it runs automatically. Some of us, however, may pay more attention to it than others, and some are more skilled at controlling and manipulating it. It is the way in which you apply logic to what is happening.
Talking to yourself, internal dialogue, or sometimes called internal monologue is the result of certain brain mechanisms that cause you to “hear” yourself talk in your head without actually verbally speaking. It is thought to be partially controlled by corollary discharge, a type of brain signal. Which helps you distinguish between different types of sensory experiences, like those that are created internally or externally.
How we do it?
- The most common form of internal dialogue is verbal, this is when you essentially “talk” to yourself. For example, you may talk to yourself about issues that are on your mind.
- Internal dialogue may also come in the form of a conversation with yourself. For example, you might play out a scene in your mind about certain situations- may it be your dreams or failures.
- Some can even be an effect of daydreaming, storytelling, or pretend play.
Is talking to yourself healthy?
Self-talk is normal behavior. It causes no significant health risks unless a person experiences other symptoms of a mental health condition such as schizophrenia which 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.
But beyond that, it is perfectly normal behavior. In fact, a private or self-directed speech (scientific terms for talking to yourself) can actually benefit you in a number of ways.
For example, when self-talking in a motivational or instructional way one could improve performance. Depending on the situation, inner dialogues can help improve control over tasks and enhance problem-solving skills. Equally, it produces comfort in trying times, reduces anxiety, and develops belief in oneself.
On the other hand, negative self-talk will do just the opposite. It may decrease motivation, enhance fear and anxiety, promote negative feelings which then affect your actions.
If you look closely you will find that our inner dialogues, monologues, and self-talk are controlled by our thinking and therefore these are matters that we can control if we choose to.
Types of Self-Talk
3 Categories of self-talk:
- Positive self-talk – Encourages and reinforces positive beliefs about a person.
- Negative self-talk – This usually involves critical and discouraging dialog.
- Neutral self-talk – This type of self-talk is not significantly positive or negative. People may use it to give instructions themselves rather than discouraging or encouraging a particular belief or emotion.
How to control and manipulate your self talk
1. Awareness is the Key
Be Aware of Your Internal Dialogues. Before you can manage your internal dialogue, you first need to become more aware of it.
2. Changing your Internal Dialogue
Once you are aware of your thought patterns- your triggers (Positive or Negative) like thoughts of your achievements, thoughts of your goals, thoughts of past pain, hatred, etc. You can then do something about changing them.
Think Positively, not Negatively. It is easy to fall into the trap of ‘beating yourself up’ internally and criticizing yourself all the time. The voice within is a driving force for success and failure in life. So be mindful of your inner dialogues. control, and avoid negative thoughts at all times.
3. Regulate your Emotions
Although your feelings and emotions towards a situation can be a strong force, you still have your willpower. For example, if a person self-talks about feeling nervous or angry, you can help regulate and process your emotions by:
- Finding ways to re-direct your focus to control your emotions
- Thinking about how to respond to your feelings at that moment
- Thinking about problem-solving solutions
4. Practice makes Perfect
Like any other mental or physical exercise. It takes time to learn how to listen, weigh-in, and control that inner voice. It can be challenging but the more you practice, the easier it gets. Consistency and Persistence will help make this challenging yet important goal a habit.
Making the most out of it
- Practice Affirmations – Builds a positive and healthy mindset
- Question Yourself – Find solutions and solve problems by asking yourself questions
- Visualize to Manifest – Imagine a scene that makes you happy
- Envision your Goals – Develop belief in oneself and self-encouragement
Internal dialogue and Intelligence
Have you experienced being caught talking to yourself out loud, using your own name in a sentence? Then someone asks you, “Who are you talking to?” And you responded, “Myself.” It’s truly embarrassing, isn’t it? It makes you look like you’re crazy. But given that so many of us do talk to ourselves, you can relax and know that talking to yourself is very normal behavior. In fact here’s some good news, according to a recent study, talking to yourself may indicate a higher level of intelligence.
According to scientists at Bangor University, speaking out loud to yourself was found to be a trait of higher cognitive function. In a UK-based school study, 28 participants were given instructions to either read out loud or read quietly. The researchers then measured how the participants performed the tasks.
It was found that the participants who read the instructions out loud were more concentrated and performed the task more efficiently. There’s a psychological reason for this and no, it’s not a sign of mental illness.
Paloma Mari-Beffa, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Bangor said that most of us talk to ourselves, silently, all the time – “and by ‘all the time’ I mean even when you sleep”, she says. She added that “The brain is always active, It is always generating images or words. 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.”
By now, you probably feel a little better about talking to yourself. And self-talk certainly can be a powerful tool for boosting mental health and cognitive function. So don’t forget to use it to your advantage.
If you are ready to start this journey you might want to read HOW TO STAY AHEAD OF YOUR QUITTING MIND & WHY LIFE BAGGAGE CAN RUIN YOUR FUTURE: TIME TO DECLUTTER