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The Pros and Cons of Talking to Yourself

Do you talk to yourself? It’s okay to admit it, it is perfectly normal and research says it can even be helpful. Talking to yourself can help you focus.  For example, if you are looking for your keys and you keep repeating “keys” “keys” you are more likely to find them than if you did not say anything.  Talking to yourself can help you slow down your thoughts so that you are able to process them more completely and come up with better solutions to problems. It can also help you process strong emotions and lessen their impact. Of course, listening to what you are saying to yourself is important too. That inner voice pulls from a knowledge base that is often hindered by the noise of everyday life. Used in a positive way talking to yourself can be your cheerleader, motivator, problem solver, self-esteem booster or devil’s advocate.

However, if that voice is negative, it can eat away at your self-esteem and actually have more of a negative impact on whatever it is that went wrong and on your feelings about yourself. We may not think that it has an impact but when your brain hears it, it cannot discern whether it is true or not, so it tries to justify it -often making the real solutions difficult to see.

So, listen to the words you use and how you communicate with yourself. Keep it in the positive and the results will be positive. Let it go negative and you may need several positives to cancel out the effects of that one negative. Don’t let others impact that voice that you hear and help your children learn how to best talk to themselves.

Use this information to guide your child/teen into thinking about what they are saying to themselves and pay attention to the tone and words they are using.

  • If they are talking in a negative way their brain is listening to what they are saying and it often seems that it tries to “justify or make” it true
  • Negative talk can interfere with their growth mindset by taking away that focus on effort and learning and focusing on what they can’t do or on failure instead
  • Negative self-talk impacts your child’s self-esteem and can have long lasting effects on how they feel about themselves and their abilities.

Instead, help them listen to themselves and redirect those negative voices.

  • Name that negative voice. Maybe Negative Nelly or Disappointing Dan will help them recognize when that voice shows up.
  • Have a mantra or saying they can use to rid the voice of its influence.
  • Teach them the power of the word “yet”. I am not good at math….yet, but with more effort I can be.
  • Encourage them to speak positively to themselves and to use that inner voice as their own cheerleader.

Self-talk can help us become more creative, it can solidify memories, and it can help us problem solve. Of course, if you are talking out loud and there are others around you, it may also cause people to look at you strangely:-). Do not worry about them, they probably haven’t experienced the positives that can come from talking to themselves – but if they call the “white coats” – run:-)