Sane or insane? Is it normal to talk to yourself in your head?

Talking to yourself isn’t just normal but is also important for your mental health.

Okay, so here’s a check, do you talk to yourself? Well, if are saying no, you must be lying. We all talk to ourselves, and that’s totally fine. I believe it is important to talk to yourself, but have you ever been caught in a situation where you were caught talking to yourself and that too taking your own name in the conversation; I understand that is beyond embarrassing and people think you are probably hallucinating.

We actually talk to ourselves silently all the time. But sometimes unknowingly it becomes loud and forces you to think, is it abnormal to talk to yourself? Not at all. Talking to yourself is normal, even if you do it often. Many people do regularly and find it helpful. Talking to yourself is not only absolutely normal but is also beneficial in a lot many ways – It helps in increasing concentration, improves focus, and surges the process of creativity.

self-talk is normal and good for you

Many clinical psychologists believe, “Talking to ourselves is completely within the norm. In fact, talking to ourselves is even good for mental health.” Talking to self also forces us to slow down our thoughts and helps in processing them differently. By talking to ourselves we become more deliberate, and this creates a slower process to think, feel, and act, instead of being bombarded by our thoughts.

In a fascinating study, researchers found that our brains can operate much like those of monkeys if we just stop talking to ourselves – whether it is silently or out loud. This study elegantly showed that talking to ourselves is probably not the only way to control our behaviour, but it is the one that we prefer and use by default.

Self-talk certainly can be a powerful tool for boosting mental health and cognitive function. Talking to yourself is the best and positive way to self-criticise which eventually helps to stay on track. It is highly important to speak positive words to yourself, especially when you are talking to yourself as more speaking harsh words to self often affects the motivation of a person.

In an experiment conducted at Bangor University, it was observed that talking out loud actually improves control over a task,  above and beyond what is achieved by inner speech. In the experiment, 28 participants were given a set of written instructions, and they were asked to read them either silently or out loud. It was measured that participant’s concentration and performance on the tasks, were improved when task instructions had been read aloud.

It is believed that 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. 

Talk to yourself it will improve your performance

Talking to yourself out loud translates to improved performance. A 2017 study found that internal motivational self-talk in the second or third person reduced an individual’s anxiety over a task and boosted their peer’s perception of their performance. Another study proved that asking oneself out loud what a piece of information means significantly improves the learning process. A hypothesized explanation for this phenomenon is that the process of answering a question improves the consolidation of information from working memory into long term memory.

Talking out loud can be an extension of a silent inner talk, caused when a certain motor command is triggered involuntarily.  These inner talks improve our control over a particular thought and help to increase our focus.

Why talking to yourself not a bad thing?

Talking to yourself can be both healthy and normal. Talking through your thoughts can be incredibly beneficial to your memory and cognitive functioning, as well as your mental and physical health. Beyond being a perfectly normal habit, private or self-directed speech (scientific terms for talking to yourself) can actually benefit you in a number of ways:

1. Helps in organising thoughts:

We live in a noisy world and it’s important to take time for yourself in order to give some time to you. There are millions of thoughts that run through our minds during the day. A new study has found the average person has more than 6000 thoughts every day. Talking to yourself can help you prioritise the important things that matter to you the most.

2. Helps you relieve the stress:

Since talking to yourself allows you to organize your thoughts and prioritize your obligations, your mind isn’t constantly racing, wondering when you’re going to have enough time to get it all done. This, in turn, helps to lessen the stress indirectly assisting us towards better mental health.

3. Stimulates your memory:

When you are talking to yourself, your sensory mechanism gets activated. Talking to yourself improves your visual ability which in turn gets easier on your memory to remember things efficiently. Repeating words aloud often sparks memory recall and makes us comfortable with remembering things.

4. Helps in achieving goals:

Making a to-do list sounds like a great idea, but if the list gets too long it can be overwhelming. Not only does talking through your list of obligations help prioritize them, but it also makes your goals seem attainable. When you say a particular thing out loud, it becomes easier for you to focus on your goals and achieve them in a time framework.

5. Foster self-reliance:

It is often seen that people who talk to themselves when they need help in solving a problem are better at analysing situations and come to conclusions independently without any outside guidance. Also, it is sometimes important to listen to our inner voice and discover what truly we want.

Is talking to yourself ever harmful

We intentionally talk to ourselves, but this doesn’t mean that we can always control what we say. Indeed, there are many situations in which our inner talk can become problematic. When talking to ourselves at 3 am, we typically really try to stop thinking so we can go back to sleep. But telling yourself not to think only keeps your mind wandering, activating all kinds of thoughts and inner talks – in most random ways.

But researchers have found that patients suffering from anxiety or depression activate these “random thoughts” even when they are trying to perform some unrelated task. Our mental health seems to depend on both our ability to activate thoughts relevant to the current task and to suppress the irrelevant ones.

Talking to yourself is often associated with mental illness, but that is rarely the reason for or cause of self-talk. However, there are some situations where self-talk may be an indication of a psychological problem.

Author: Mahima Joshi

Mahima Joshi is a writer at The Wonk. She is a postgraduate in Journalism, who is just curious about everything that is happening around. She is an enthusiastic reader especially concerning gender dynamics in mythological stories.

Leave a Reply