Speaking your mind: Is it normal to talk to yourself?

August 27, 2019

When was the last time that somebody talked some sense into you in a stressful or unnerving situation? And was that person actually you?

Just about all of us talk to ourselves—either mentally or out loud. In fact, some of us do it frequently—and it can be a good thing, the Huffington Post Canada reports.

“It is very normal to talk to yourself and thus very common,” Dr. Laura F. Dabney, a psychotherapist based in Virginia Beach, recently told the online news outlet in an email.

“It’s not a trait we necessarily outgrow after childhood,” she said, “or a sign of mental illness; and it’s more common than you might realize.”

“The truth is that we all talk to ourselves,” Vironika Tugaleva, the author of The Art of Talking to Yourself (Soulux Press, 2017), said, also in an email, adding, “It might look strange if you do it out loud in public, but we all have intricate multi-level conversations in our heads, as a way to give meaning to and explain to ourselves the things that happen during our days.”

Think of everyday scenarios where you might talk to yourself. For example, as you’re leaving the house you might recite your essential item —keys, coat, bag, lunch—out loud to yourself as a checklist, Dabney said. Or on the way home from work, you might go over a stressful conversation you had with a boss, venting about it to yourself.

“It is not only normal, it’s crucial, and becoming aware of the quality of this inner discourse is a path to happiness and fulfillment,” Tugaleva said.

In fact, it can be an effective way in which to soothe yourself and focus on the positives instead of worries and stressors. “I tell my clients and readers that talking to themselves in a caring manner can be a way to mother themselves,” Sheri McGregor, a life coach, emailed to HuffPost.

Talking to yourself can also function as a way to deal with small or situational problems, McGregor said. She advised that, the next time you’re nervous about a presentation, you try having a conversation with yourself to go over your fears and present constructive solutions, or to remind yourself how prepared you are. Avoid self-talk that is self-sabotaging or allows you to spiral into your worries.

During hard times, our minds can take us to dark places, which is why — just as with meditation — making positive self-talk a habit takes some work, but is a good practice to foster.

In fact, talking to yourself is tied to mindfulness — a practice that is becoming increasingly popular. “Mindfulness comes first because it brings awareness [to] not only one’s thoughts, but the words [people] mutter to themselves,” McGregor said.

Finally, of course, there are some situations in which self-talk may be an indication of a psychological problem. If you are engaging in self-talk that involves repetitive phrases, mantras, or numbers, and this type of self-talk is disruptive to you or difficult to stop, that can be also be an indicator of an emotional problem. Speak to a qualified medical professional for a proper assessment.

Research contact: @HuffPostCanada

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