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Talking to yourself: A sign of sanity and good mental health

Posted on 04-13-15 in Mental Health

Talking to yourself: A sign of sanity and good mental health

Have you ever caught yourself talking to yourself when you are alone? Or have you done it when you are around others? Maybe you were trying to focus, remember or decide on something. Individuals who have been caught e muttering things out loud to themselves may  react by being embarrassed or worried that others around them may think they are losing their mental capabilities. In truth though, vocalizing  thoughts and feelings is a good form of expression. Talking to oneself has been scientifically proven to offer multiple benefits for  good mental health.

The science

In 2012, psychologists Gary Lupyan and Daniel Swingley published a study in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology that looked at the cognitive benefits of talking to oneself. The study mainly focused on how talking to oneself while trying to locate something may help the object turn up quickert. Participants in a study were asked to look at 20 pictures and then find these images later on among other images. Researchers found that those who were allowed to talk out loud to themselves performed better than those who were asked to stay silent during this task. These results were confirmed in a follow-up experiment.

The benefits

The act of talking to oneself doesn’t just increase the ability to focus and find a lost object, but provides other advantages as well. Talking to oneself out loud can also help with:

  • Focusing: As seen in the study, talking to oneself can improve attention span and memory. It allows someone to ignore distractions, organize  thoughts and help improve the ability to focus on certain tasks and memorize material
  • Lowering Stress: According to a poll taken at Nottingham Trent University, many subjects felt it was okay to speak to others but not to talk to themselves though, when they were asked to talk to themselves, these individuals seemed to have noticeably decreased levels of stress. This indicates that taking the time to say what is on one’s mind has a similar effect to journaling in that it allows venting and processing thoughts
  • Freeing emotions: Talking out loud to oneself allows for venting thoughts and  emotions. Freeing any pent up feelings directs them a new course, which is another form of processing that also increases self-awareness or inspiration.
  • Making better decisions: Talking to oneself allows the chance to really think about and plan out the decisions.
  • Improving motivation and self-esteem: Reciting positive affirmations can improve  chances of accomplishing goals and  boosting self confidence.

Guidelines for talking to oneself

Most individuals wouldn’t talk down to others but think talking to themselves in a degrading manner isn’t a problem when it is actually very harmful. While picking up on mistakes and learning from them can be a good thing, putting oneself down is actually damaging. This won’t accomplish anything and will take a toll on mood and mental health, bringing about consequences such as anxiety and depression.

There are four main beneficial forms of self-talk: motivational, complimentary, outer dialogue and goal-setting self-talk.

Motivational self-talk can help someone complete tasks that he or she may not really feel like doing. For example, reminding oneself that it may be a good idea to clean up the kitchen because sharing his or her home with a lot of ants may not be the most pleasant situation.

Complimentary self-talk gives someone those compliments and recognition that he or she deserves, but may not be able to get from others. It is good to give oneself a pat on the back every now and then for doing the right thing.

Engaging in outer dialogue can help in pondering actions and making important decisions. This increases the chance of making good choices and decreases the chance of acting on impulses that one may regret later.

Finally, goal-setting self-talk helps with ensuring goals are actually met. It can help one stay organized and focused, reinforcing a plan of attack, controlling  emotions and blocking distractions.

With these guidelines in mind, remember that self-talk is actually a good thing. It marks good mental health and sanity and can prove beneficial to one’s daily routine. For those individuals  who may have developed anxiety, depression or another mental health disorder as a result of bad self-talk or other problems, please seek treatment and try practicing better self-talk. To learn more about treatment for mental health disorders, visit or call 866-524-5504 for more information.

Written by Sovereign Health Group writer Brianna Gibbons