As I grow older, I find I’m talking to myself more often. I’ve always had rich conversations using my inner voice and, as a former social worker, I know this is perfectly normal. Thankfully, most of my conversations are in my head and nobody can hear what I’m saying.
Recently, I’ve begun speaking out loud when I talk to myself! Instead of an inner torrent of reminders, warnings, admonishments, and suggestions, I’m saying these out loud! Sometimes I stop myself when I consider how odd this must sound.
The self-talk begins in the morning when I plan my day. I tell myself what I have to do. Sometimes my husband thinks I’m speaking to him, which I may be, but mostly I’m talking to myself. As an aside, my husband has always talked aloud to himself. Sometimes this has been annoying as I’ve answered his comments only to hear, “I was talking to myself!”
Now, after almost 60 years of marriage, I’ve picked up this habit! Perhaps it’s true that couples become more alike as time passes because they occupy the same environments and mimic each other’s expressions. This may be especially true since, in the past months, we’ve spent much more time together due to the pandemic.
When I talk out loud I remind myself where I need to go for appointments and when I need to leave the house. I sometimes wonder (aloud) what I should wear for the day! Sometimes I’ll muse about having another cup of coffee before leaving the house. It seems that speaking my thoughts reinforces the association between intention and action.
Positive Self Talk
Self talk whether with one’s inner voice or when spoken aloud can be positive or negative.
Confidence-building messages with phrases like, ‘you’ve got this’ or ‘you can do this’ give encouragement. Such messages can serve as reminders that I’ve done this before or that I’m skilled at a specific task.
Encouraging messages help me through difficult or complex situations. I’ll say something like ‘one step at a time’ or ‘slow down’ to finish a task successfully.
And, Negative Self-Talk
When I’m in a funk or having a bad day, I use negative self-talk. I’ll scold myself with words like ‘you’ve done it wrong’ or ‘this was dumb’ or ‘why didn’t you….’ or ‘how could you forget…”
When the negatives get critical, I’m discouraged although I know that admonishing myself for mistakes doesn’t change what’s happened. Interestingly, I haven’t caught myself using negative self-talk out loud!
Controlling negative self-talk requires recognition of it and re-framing. It’s usually a signal that self-care, rather than self-talk is needed! Or, it may be a signal that I need help doing something!
Working Out Problems
Self-talk — whether it’s talking out loud or using the inner voice — can help in problem-solving. It’s a valuable strategy for formulating thoughts related to an issue. It’s also means of processing information or processing emotions.
When faced with a decision, talking it through with oneself can help to establish and weigh the pros and cons involved. It helps when analyzing tricky situations.
As former mental health professionals, both my husband and I know that talking out loud to oneself is quite normal. Many people do this. We joke with each other that if the self-talk deteriorates to arguing with oneself, there may be a problem!
Thanks for reading this post. As a caution, readers should know that for some people, talking out loud to themselves can be a sign of a serious mental health disorder. If you think this is an issue in your life, a medical consultation may be necessary.