Talking to yourself Out Loud: what does it mean?

A women dressed in blue with glasses on who is carefully starring at herself in the mirror and thinking deeply 

We are all guilty of talking to ourselves from time to time!

Yet talking aloud is typically how we interact with other people. So, it is easy to contemplate whether or not it is actually bad to talk to ourselves.

But, talking to yourself can uncover many things about you, some of which you may not even realise!

Talking to yourself out loud can mean many things, both good and bad. Determining the meaning of this is not whether you talk to yourself or not, but more so, how you talk to yourself. 
The key word here is ‘how’. 
The way in which you talk to yourself out loud is massively influential due to its deeper meanings and how it may impact you on a regular basis.

What does it mean if you talk to yourself out loud?

Talking to ourselves out loud is an introspective process (or in other words a way in which we comprehend our own emotional and mental processes).
We typically talk to ourselves out loud in order to increase the recognition that we have for something. This is because through discussing your thoughts out loud, you are reinforcing what you're thinking about which ultimately helps to boost your cognition.

Typically, if you talk to yourself out loud it implies that you are likely to be very creative and intelligent. 

This is supported through the addition of an auditory stimulus which creates a further method of learning and processing information.

What are the benefits of talking to yourself out loud?

Talking to yourself out loud proves to be very effective at improving information processing capabilities, as well as your situational awareness and understanding. 
There have been lots of psychological studies that identify these benefits. 
One particular study even dates back to 1982 which identified that saying newly learnt information out loud to yourself can help you to remember nearly three times more information compared to not saying             the information out loud (Berry, 1983).

Also, more recent studies come to similar conclusions.
A 2012 study conducted by the university of Bangor identified that talking to yourself out loud enhances your control over your actions compared to keeping your thoughts in your head (Kirkham, Breeze and Marί-Beffa, 2012).

Then, another study from the same year also comes to a similar conclusion through suggesting that when we are searching for familiar objects, speaking to yourself out loud by simply saying the name of the object can help you find objects in less time (Lupyan and Swingley, 2012).

From these studies we can clearly see the benefits of talking to yourself out loud. To put these benefits into perspective, imagine that you couldn’t find your phone. So you began to look for it. If you repeat the word ‘phone’ to yourself out loud, you would find your phone more quickly. This is because talking to yourself out loud acts as a retrieval cue , thereby improving your attentiveness towards finding your phone. 

The Key benefits of talking to yourself out loud:

  • Enhances task concentration
  • Enhances task performance
  • Improves information retention
  • Greater alertness

What is Self-Talk?

Self-talk is where you directly talk to yourself either as a form of internal dialogue or speaking out loud. It has a surprisingly large influence on your actions and the way in 
which you view yourself as a person. 

There are both negative and positive forms of self-talk. So, it is vital that you pay attention to the type of self-talk that you regularly use in order to influence your actions and thought processes in the desired way that you chose. 


The difference between positive and negative self-talk

Positive self-talk

Using positive self-talk is a great way to develop a very optimistic and transparent approach to life. Therefore, effectively utilizing positive self-talk is seen as a good way to develop and progress as an individual.

Due to the optimistic nature of positive self-talk, people who frequently engage in positive self-talk are proven to be more effective at problem solving. 

But, also they are able to cope better with negative situations (Holland, 2020) .Therefore, they perceive the challenges that life presents in a more deterministic and positive manner.

A joyful and happy person lying in a field of beautiful yellow flowers


Negative self-talk

Having negative self-talk is a very pessimistic and fixed approach mindset and is therefore not good for your development and progress as an individual. 

Due to the self-critical nature of negative self-talk, constantly engaging in negative self-talk can increase your chances of developing anxiety or depression. 

This is because it causes you to develop automatic thoughts that lead to negative emotional reactions (Morris, 2016). 
So, although you can’t eliminate negative self-talk completely, taking steady steps to understand your thought processes and making them more positive is vital in order to live a happier life.

It is easier to eliminate negative self-talk when we:

  • Realize that our emotions are temporary and don't define who we are as a person
  • Consider the cause of our negative thoughts
  • Face our fears and directly combat them
  • Stop expecting everything to be perfect and good all of the time
  • Acknowledge our struggles and take a moment to breathe and relax 
  • Practice positive affirmations
  • Focus on the positives and what you can learn to improve your mindset 
  • Understand that not everything can always go the way that you want it to
A man sitting in a slouched position against a wall with his hands covering his face


The Importance of Third-person self-talk

You may talk to yourself, but do you talk to yourself in third-person?

Talking to yourself in third-person (or in other words as if you are someone else) improves self control and makes you think with greater clarity. 
So, instead of saying to yourself “Why am I feeling sad?”, it is more beneficial to say “Why are you sad?” (or even substituting “you” with your name instead).

“Why am I feeling sad?” > “Why are you/*name feeling sad?”

A 2017 psychological study (Moser et al., 2017) illustrates the benefits of Third-Person Self-Talk. 
They observed that using third-person self-talk when you are feeling stressed gives you greater control over your emotions. 
This is because you’re effectively processing your thoughts like you would think about other people. 
So, this makes you more psychologically distant from your emotions meaning that you view your thoughts as if you are seeing them from the perspective of an outsider. 
This is also expressed through third-person self-talk involving less brain activity in the region that we use to reflect upon our negative emotions.

Also, a study from 2015 in the Harvard Business Review (Ayduk and Kross, 2015) discovered that third-person self-talk when compared to first-person self-talk increases your confidence, makes you calmer and overall significantly increases your performance of a task.


Conclusion

Overall, talking to ourselves (whether it be out loud or in our heads) is a crucial way in determining how we perceive our lives. 
This becomes particularly beneficial via the adoption of a positive mindset and talking to ourselves in an optimistic way because of its involvement in the development of a growth mindset. 
Yet, if we happen to talk use self talk in a self-critical and destructive way, then talking to ourselves can also create a significant barrier upon our lives in the form of a fixed mindset. 

A professional man in a suit with his left hand on his chin while carefully thinking about something


References

Ayduk, O. and Kross, E., 2015. Pronouns Matter When Psyching Yourself Up. [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: <https://hbr.org/2015/02/pronouns-matter-when-psyching-yourself-up> [Accessed 1 July 2020].

Berry, D., 1983. Metacognitive Experience and Transfer of Logical Reasoning. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 35(1), pp.39-49.

Holland, K., 2020. Positive Self-Talk: How Talking To Yourself Is A Good Thing. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/positive-self-talk> [Accessed           1 July 2020].

Kirkham, A., Breeze, J. and Marί-Beffa, P., 2012. The impact of verbal instructions on goal-directed behaviour. Acta Psychologica, 139(1), pp.212-219.

Lupyan, G. and Swingley, D., 2012. Self-Directed Speech Affects Visual Search Performance. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65(6), pp.1068-1085.

Morris, S., 2016. Self-Talk: Why It Matters. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/self-talk#selftalk> [Accessed 30 June 2020].

Moser, J., Dougherty, A., Mattson, W., Katz, B., Moran, T., Guevarra, D., Shablack, H., Ayduk, O., Jonides, J., Berman, M. and Kross, E., 2017. Third-person self-talk facilitates emotion regulation without engaging cognitive control: Converging evidence from ERP and fMRI. Scientific Reports, 7(1).

 

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