From better confidence to better memory, talking to yourself has many benefits.
Whether we're driving a car or just standing in front of a mirror or standing on the other side of a door before stepping into a stressful situation, we could be talking to ourselves. Out loud or in our heads, we are almost constantly talking to ourselves. It's quite common for adults and children to speak to themselves and there are actually many benefits to this practice, contrary to what people might say.
Usually, we are told through pop culture that the people who talk to themselves out loud are mentally unsound. While there are some mental health disorders of which self-talk is a symptom, there are plenty of neurotypical folks who speak to themselves as well.
"Talking out loud can be an extension of [one's] silent inner talk, caused when a certain motor command is triggered involuntarily," Paloma Mari-Beffa, senior lecturer in psychology at Bangor University, told the Bigthink, "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."
If you have been stopping yourself when you engage in self-talk, you would want to know the benefits of it:
Talking aloud to ourselves can help us take better control of our emotions. For most people, when we verbalize self-directed thoughts in the second or third person it helps us gain objectivity, especially in stressful situations, according to The Swaddle. Doing so helps us gain distance from ourselves, according to Jason Moser, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University. "Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the brain,” said he.
When we talk to ourselves, it helps our brain perform better, according to a study published in Acta Psychologica. Participants were asked to read instructions and perform the tasks mentioned in them. While some participants were told to read silently others had to do it aloud. Researchers found that those who read aloud had sustained concentration and enhanced performance. Mari-Beffa, one of the study's authors, was quoted as saying by Bigthink, "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."
When we are engaging in positive self-talk it can be affirming and motivating. Similarly, when we indulge in negative self-talk and ruminating, we are likely to lead ourselves to negative outcomes. So, when giving yourself a pep talk, it's better to do so in the second or third person because that is more likely to stick. "One of the key reasons why we’re so able to advise others on a problem is because we’re not sucked into those problems. We can think more clearly because we have distance from the experience," said Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, to the New York Times.
Talking to yourself in the third person is also the best way to calm down, as per a study published in Scientific Reports. When we gain psychological distance, as mentioned by Moser previously, we are able to extricate ourselves from the situation emotionally. "That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions," he added in a statement.
When we read things out loud, we are most likely to remember it, as per a study published in Memory. Participants were given four different methods of remembering information and it was found that they were most likely to remember when they read it out. "This study confirms that learning and memory benefit from active involvement," Colin M. MacLeod, chair of the Department of Psychology at Waterloo and co-author of the study, said in a release. "When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable."