Hey! Are You Actually Talking to Yourself?
Do you ever find yourself talking to yourself? Either out loud or quietly in your mind? A lot of people associate talking to yourself as more than a little strange. Some even say that if you talk to yourself, you’re just a lonely person with no real friends and that you may need to seek psychiatric counseling. But I don’t agree with that. I don’t even agree with anyone who has really anything negative to say about talking to yourself. The reason being that anyone who has a healthy mind will find themselves talking to themselves more often than not. But what does that really say about a person?
It’s been discovered that talking to yourself is not only normal, but may in fact help a person to become a better problem solver as well as have a more enjoyable life. The very tactic of talking to yourself has been seen by scientist to help people find solace amid life’s pain points whenever they occur. Instead of calling it “talking to yourself”, I prefer calling it “Thinking Out Loud” because it is really much more accurate of a statement.
One of the earlier studies that involved the significance of talking to yourself (or thinking out loud ) was done by Dr. Paul Horton, psychoanalyst and co-author of “The Solace Paradigm”. His study, which was done by surveying 160 adults between the ages of 22 and 78, showed that “being with someone” was ranked number one on the list of things people needed and wanted in order to feel solace. The very act of talking to yourself give people the feeling that they are not really alone in facing an issue. That same study showed “going for a walk” as tenth in ranking. Below is the full ranking from that study:
10 MOST POPULAR SOURCES OF SOLACE
1. Being with someone else.
2. Listening to music.
3. Watching TV.
6. Talking to oneself.
8. A special book, such as the Bible.
9. Recalling pleasant memories.
10. Going for a walk.
The study showed that private behaviors, such as talking to yourself, actually lifted people out of many states of depression. Dr. Horton, who was also a psychiatrist at Child Guidance Center in Meriden, CT when the study was conducted, said “psychoanalysis has focused too much on sexuality and aggression, but the ability to give solace to oneself is the basis of such major positive feelings as joy, awe, forgiveness, and generosity.” (New York Times article from February 4, 1988)
In another study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly by Professor Adam Winsler, an associate professor of psychology at George Mason University, 5 year olds were noted to do better on motor tasks when they talk to themselves out loud than when they were silent. The same study showed that 78% of children performed either the same or better on a routine task when talking to themselves than when they were silent.
So What Does It All Mean?
When I read these studies, I’m not really surprised. When I ask a question out loud, it sounds differently and registers differently in my mind than when I simply “think” the same question internally. Have you ever heard yourself asking a friend or colleague a question only to find out that you figured out the answer to your question once you finish asking it? Many times, the very act of saying it out loud is what causes the mind to think in a different way.
So when was the last time you talked to yourself?