I have the odd habit of carrying on a conversation with myself. This happens when I’m alone, and especially when I’m feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s just a few words, and sometimes it’s whole sentences – but I’m sure it all would look insane if someone were to drop in undetected. It could be a side effect of narrating so much of my life to my toddler. It could be a sign that I just love to hear my own voice. I’m not sure, but I might discuss this with myself later.
Strangely, there are some benefits to choosing to talk to yourself like a crazy person. Here they are:
1. Talking to yourself helps to manage your thought process.
Sometimes we need to put our whirlwind of thoughts in order, and words can help us to do just that. In fact, the smarter you are, the more likely your brain is prone to chaos. Our thinking can become confusing and worrisome when confined to an intangible form. This is especially true when our thoughts have emotional undertones. Creating a verbal manifestation of our worries, frustrations, and concerns can help them to become more manageable. The structure that language provides can help us to focus and put things into perspective. Just about anything sounds less intimidating in a verbal format than it does lurking in the depths of the human mind. By organizing our thoughts and emotions with words, we can process them more easily and effectively.
2. Self-talk is an important part of our learning process.
Human beings, as it turns out, don’t only love the sound of our own voices – we need to hear it. As explains,“self-directed speech can help guide children’s behavior, with kids often taking themselves step-by-step through tasks such as tying their shoelaces, as if reminding themselves to focus on the job at hand.” It would seem that as children, we inherently understand the value of self-talk as it relates to brain processing. It is only as we grow older and become more self-aware that we learn to curtail this behavior. Society teaches us that there is no point in talking to oneself because speech is a social construct. However, language has much more value than that. It is also a way that our brains process information and solve problems.
3. Walking yourself through a process in a verbal way can help you to complete it more efficiently.
Consider that you are on your way to the grocery store with your young children. This is an everyday task with thousands of small parts – tying shoes, refereeing arguments, buckling car seats, packing a diaper bag…the list goes on. How many of us, in the midst of this activity, have forgotten to grab the grocery list? By talking yourself through this task, you not only focus your energy as described above, but also connect the visual part of your brain to your physical activity. By saying “grocery list” to yourself, even before it is in sight, you are reminding your brain to be on the lookout for the green notebook that contains it. Self-talk does not only help you to organize your thoughts – it helps you to hold on to them.
“One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody’s listening,” said author Franklin P. Jones. While he was absolutely correct, it would seem that there are other benefits as well. Talking to oneself may not be a sign of madness after all, but rather a process undertaken by geniuses and high achievers. Try it for a day. See how much smarter (or crazier) you feel!