Why you should start talking to yourself, according to science

Talking to yourself can help you achieve your goals -- if you do it right.

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Sometimes the person you need to talk to the most is yourself. But some kinds of self-talk is better than others — basically, you need to put in the effort.

In August, Inverse spoke to the experts to get the low-down on how talking to yourself can benefit you in unexpected ways. They revealed that engaging in effortful self-talk, more of a mental conversation than an audible one, can hold big benefits — and even if you don’t habitually talk to yourself now, you can train yourself to capitalize on them, too.

This is #7 on Inverse’s list of the 25 biggest stories of human potential of 2019.*

Engaging in this kind of positive self-talk could help you set goals and achieve them. That’s in part because self-talk allows us to monitor ourselves.

In August Judy Van Raalte, a professor at Springfield College, explained to Inverse that even if self-talk doesn’t come naturally, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on its benefits. Effortful self-talk — in other words, not spontaneous self-talk is “a lot like practicing a sport skill,” Van Raalte said.

“Over time, it can be automatic and effortless to use.”

Talking to yourself in a positive way is a skill that you can learn. 


It’s a skill that you can practice — but beware: you can get it wrong, too. Thomas Brinthaupt, a Middle Tennessee State professor who studies the psychology of the self, explained to Inverse that positive self-talk can encourage and reinforce behavioral, cognitive, and emotional goals.

But “We can also criticize ourselves with our negative self-talk; replay or rehearse what we’re saying to other people, and engage in self-managing self-talk,” he said.

So how should you do it? A 2017 study suggests that the best way to engage in positive self-talk is to refer to yourself by your first name, or “you,” instead of relying on pronouns like “I,” or “me.” Using the third-person during self-talk prompts people to think about themselves like they would other people — providing the psychological distance needed to facilitate self-control.

Similarly, a 2010 study from the University of Toronto indicated that focusing on a positive inner-voice can help people exercise self-control and prevent them from making impulsive decisions.

As 2019 draws to a close, Inverse is revisiting 25 striking lessons for humans to help maximize our potential. This is #7. Some are awe-inspiring, some offer practical tips, and some give a glimpse of the future. Read the original article here.

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