Psychologists refer to the habit of talking to yourself out loud as internal external dialogue. If you sometimes talk to yourself, you are not alone. Far from being an occasional trend, it's actually quite common.
Some evidence suggests that talking to yourself may have a number of psychological benefits. Research suggests that this type of self-talk is linked to a variety of different mental functions, includingProblem solving, reasoning, planning,Motivationand attention.
While this can sometimes cause problems or be a sign of mental illness, in most cases you can talk to yourself without it being a cause for concern.
This article looks at some of the reasons people talk to themselves and some of the potential benefits of doing so. It also covers what to do if you want to stop talking to yourself and some of the signs that doing so might be cause for concern.
Does everyone have an internal monologue?
Why do people talk to themselves?
Children begin to speak to themselves at the age of two or three, but at this age it usually does not differ much from other social language. Around the age of five, children become more reticent of their self-directed speech. They still talk to themselves, but often speak shorter, lower, or in private to avoid being overheard by others.
And while it often becomes less obvious to others, self-talk rarely disappears entirely. Most people talk to themselves at least occasionally, while others do it much more frequently.
While external self-talk is relatively common, there hasn't been much research into why some people talk out loud to themselves and others don't. A 2019 article published in the magazinefrontiers of psychologyHe examined a few different explanations that came up.
One theory is that people who spend moretime aloneprobably more likely to talk to himself. Because they have fewer interactions with others, their internal dialogue can serve as a form of social communication.
There is a lot of research that supports this theory. Studies have shown that adults who were only children are more likely to engage in external internal conversations.
Another study found that people whosoloand have a strong need to belong are also more likely to talk to themselves. Soliloquy, in this case, serves to satisfy a need that is not being met by limited or unfulfilled social relationships.
This theory suggests that people may talk to themselves loudly due to cognitive impairments, often caused by stress or other similar events. For example, feelings of fear.obsessionsThe tendencies can produce cognitive alterations associated with an increase in internal dialogue.
For example, one study found that when preparing for a speech, people tend to talk more to themselves when they expect to speak in public.
The study also showed the effects of positive and negative self-talk. Those who spoke negatively or self-critically about themselves tended to be more afraid of public speaking.
Loneliness: causes and consequences for health
There are different ways to talk to yourself. Self-talk tends to be positive or negative, but it can also differ in terms of its intended purpose.
- positive and negative self-talk: Positive self-talk can include devotionself affirmationsor statements designed to help keep you motivated and inspired. Negative self-talk often focuses on self-critical or blame statements.
- instructional soliloquy: This form of self-directed speech focuses on talking about the steps you need to take to solve a problem or accomplish a task.
- motivational self dialogue: This type of speech focuses on providing an incentive to complete a task. For example, you can congratulate yourself on your efforts or remind yourself that you can be successful.
Studies suggest that having a positive, educational, or motivational conversation with yourself can help you improve your performance.
Surprisingly, the researchers found that negative self-talk doesn't always affect performance. On the contrary, it can sometimes provide useful and realistic feedback that can help you improve your performance in the future. A lot ofnegative self-talk, but it can erode your confidence in the long run, so it's important not to make it a habit.
Talking alone can have several benefits. Some of them include:
Self-talk can be helpful in distancing yourself from your own experiences. It allows you to reflect on the things that are happening in your life. By giving him some distance, it can be a great way to see things more objectively.
This can minimize the immediate emotions and gut feelings you may be having at the moment, allowing you to see things more clearly and rationally.
Talking to yourself can also be motivating. Consider times when you have expected a challenge and said to yourself, "I can do this" or "You can do it." These thoughts can be helpful if you keep them inside, but getting those thoughts out in the open can be even more motivating.
One study found whenbasket playerSelf-talk with instructional or motivational statements showed significant improvements over a control group.
Those who used prompts showed higher performance accuracy, and those who used motivational prompts completed tasks much faster.
If you've ever found yourself talking to yourself while walking the aisles of a supermarket, don't worry: research has shown that it can actually help you better remember the items on your list.
In one experiment, participants had to search for items in a store without saying anything.However, during the experiment phase, the participants were instructed to repeat the names of the items searched for during the search. The results showed that the self-talkers found it easier to find what they were looking for.
According to the researchers, the participants improved their memory by talking to themselves and made a stronger association between the words they spoke and the visual targets they were looking for.
Talking to yourself can also be a way to resolve any issues you may be facing. Known for being self-explanatory, this tactic can help people monitor their progress and improve their performance while solving a problem.
Talking to yourself for a few moments can really help you focus and think about the problem and all your options.
Clearly there are benefits to self-talk, but there are also things you can do to make sure you're getting the most out of your self-talk. Strategies that can help are listed below.
Negative self-talk, whether in your head or out loud, can be very detrimental to your well-being. If you tend to ponder or reflect on negativity, find ways to do it.rephrase your wordsCan be beneficial
That's not to say too positive or unrealistic things. For example, don't replace a negative statement like "I'm bad at it" with "I'm the best at it."
Instead, focus on positive but realistic affirmations that encourage a more optimistic attitude.mentality. For example, you could say, "This is hard, but you're learning. You're getting better every day."
Press play for self-talk tips
This episode of is hosted by Editor-in-Chief and Therapist Amy Morin, LCSWThe Mind Very Well Podcast, with bestselling author Kindra Hall, shows how you can tell more useful stories for yourself. Click below to listen now.
Asking yourself questions about what you've learned or what something means can be a powerful tool for improving memory. Since you are essentially learning something and then learning something, it helps to reinforce and tie the information together.long term memorymore effective.
watch what you say
Self-talk is most beneficial when you really pay attention and listen to what you are saying.
While you can sometimes be more aware of what's going on without really paying attention to the content of your words, listening to and reflecting on your self-talk can help you learn more.self awareness.
Use second or third persona
Instead of speaking to yourself in the first person, try switching to a second or even third person perspective.
In one study, researchers found that people were better able to regulate their own emotions when they spoke to themselves in the third person.This can be especially helpful when dealing with difficult or distressing feelings.
Using the third person can help you distance yourself from these feelings, which can help you assess them more objectively, almost as if you are observing someone else's thoughts instead of your own.
The way you talk to yourself can have a huge impact on you.Self esteem, learning and self-awareness. Treating yourself kindly, asking yourself questions, and watching your words can help you make the most of your self-talk.
how to control
There's usually nothing wrong with talking to yourself, but that doesn't mean there aren't times when you want to keep your thoughts to yourself instead of verbalizing them. For example, others may be distracted by your self-talk, especially if you share a workspace.
So what can you do to control your tendency to talk to yourself? Some strategies that can help with this are:
- chat with other people: When talking to yourself to reflect on a problem or to motivate yourself, it can be helpful to talk to the people around you. They can ask questions or ask if they want to provide feedback on their ideas.
- get distracted: Finding other ways to keep yourself busy can help reduce the urge to speak loudly. For example, you can chew gum, take a sip of water, or suck on a mint or piece of candy.
- scribe: Journaling can be a useful practice that can help you process emotions, find solutions, and evenrelieve stress symptoms.
when to worry
Self-talk is not always a positive force. When you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, it can affect your confidence, self-esteem, and mental well-being.
Sometimes you can participate in an internal dialogueugly, or talking about the same sad, negative, and dark thoughts over and over again. This type of internal dialogue can be a sign of mental illness, such asDepression.
Self-talk can also be a problem if it occurs as a resulthallucinations. In this case, a person would be speaking out loud to a non-existent external source instead of starting a conversation with themselves.
Hallucinations can be associated with a number of different conditions, includingschizophrenia,Bipolar disorder, substance use, metabolic conditions andpost traumatic stress disorder(PTSD).
Self-talk that is illogical, incoherent, and accompanied by disturbed thoughts may be a sign of schizophrenia or a related condition.
In most cases, self-talk is not a sign of an underlying mental health issue. However, if this self-talk is extremely negative, difficult to control, or is accompanied by auditory or visual hallucinations, you should talk to your doctor.
A doctor or therapist can help determine if you may have a mental illness and recommend appropriate treatments. They can also help you control behavior and avoid negative self-talk.
A word from Verywell
While self-talk is sometimes considered eccentric, quirky, or even pathological, it's important to remember that it's actually incredibly common. Additionally, it can have a number of important benefits, includingregulate emotionsand memory improvement.
So go ahead and talk to yourself as you walk down the aisle at the grocery store or as you prepare to give a big speech. While it may sound silly, it actually works.
When people talk to themselves, they may be working problems out in their minds and speaking them out loud. This is also known as “self-explaining.” Talking out loud helps people work through their thoughts. Self-talk refers to the way that you talk to yourself, whether positively or negatively.What mental disorder causes you to talk to yourself? ›
Some people with schizophrenia appear to talk to themselves as they respond to the voices. People with schizophrenia believe that the hallucinations are real. Disordered thoughts. Thoughts may become jumbled or blocked.Is it normal to speak alone? ›
It's Totally Normal (and Healthy) to Talk to Yourself. Do you talk to yourself? We mean out loud, not just under your breath or in your head — pretty much everyone does that. This habit often begins in childhood, and it can become second nature pretty easily.Is talking alone a mental disorder? ›
For most people, talking to yourself is a normal behavior that is not a symptom of a mental health condition. Self-talk may have some benefits, especially in improving performance in visual search tasks.Is talking to yourself a symptom of ADHD? ›
In his own investigation, he found that others with ADHD tend to get carried away in their hyper self-talk, while those without ADHD sometimes report not even being aware of any self-talk or internal dialogue (what he refers to as being hypo-neuro-vocal).Do highly intelligent people talk to themselves? ›
For what can now be considered a brilliant news for your social stature, talking to yourself may indicate a higher level of intelligence. According to scientists at the Bangor University, speaking out loud to yourself was “found to be a trait of higher cognitive function”.Is talking to yourself a part of depression? ›
Sometimes you might find yourself engaging in self-talk centered on rumination, or continuously talking about the same sad, negative, dark thoughts. This type of self-talk may be a sign of a mental health condition such as depression.Can anxiety cause self-talk? ›
Negative self-talk is often experienced by people who have depression or anxiety. The constant negative chatter can be overwhelming and difficult to break out of. Negative self-talk can make it more difficult to deal with chronic pain. It can also affect a person's sexual confidence and body image.What are signs of being schizophrenic? ›
Symptoms may include:
- Delusions. ...
- Hallucinations. ...
- Disorganized thinking (speech). ...
- Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior. ...
- Negative symptoms.
- Try listening to music. ...
- Read a book. ...
- Watch TV.
soliloquy. / (səˈlɪləkwɪ) / noun plural -quies. the act of speaking alone or to oneself, esp as a theatrical device.Are people who talk too much lonely? ›
The conversation is a monologue, not a dialogue. Sometimes people talk too much because they are lonely. When someone is willing to listen, they go on and on in an attempt to assuage their loneliness – as well as assuage the aloneness of their self-abandonment.What is excessive talking a symptom of? ›
Hyperverbal speech may show up as a symptom of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or anxiety . If you have anxiety, you might talk more than usual or speak very quickly when you feel most nervous.What does undiagnosed ADHD look like in adults? ›
Adults with ADHD may find it difficult to focus and prioritize, leading to missed deadlines and forgotten meetings or social plans. The inability to control impulses can range from impatience waiting in line or driving in traffic to mood swings and outbursts of anger. Adult ADHD symptoms may include: Impulsiveness.What it feels like to have ADHD? ›
People with ADHD will have at least two or three of the following challenges: difficulty staying on task, paying attention, daydreaming or tuning out, organizational issues, and hyper-focus, which causes us to lose track of time. ADHD-ers are often highly sensitive and empathic.How do you know if you have ADHD as an adult? ›
- You're often late. Time management is an ongoing challenge when you have ADHD. ...
- You have trouble concentrating. ...
- You leave things undone. ...
- You had behavior issues as a child. ...
- You lack impulse control. ...
- You can't get organized. ...
- You're fidgety. ...
- You can't control your emotions.
Signs of intelligence include better rhythm, liking dark humour, being prone to worry, sleeping late, high self-control and new ideas. Signs of intelligence are many and varied and go way beyond a standard IQ test.Is talking to yourself a trauma response? ›
People talk to themselves out loud for many reasons. It could come from loneliness, stress, anxiety, or even trauma. Usually, though, talking to yourself is a healthy, normal, and even beneficial way to process thoughts and experiences.How can you tell if someone is extremely intelligent? ›
- They demonstrate a curiosity to learn more information.
- They can openly admit when they don't know something. ...
- They can break down complex problems and cut straight to a solution.
- They have an acute awareness of their own thought process.
Schizophrenia can usually be diagnosed if: you've experienced 1 or more of the following symptoms most of the time for a month: delusions, hallucinations, hearing voices, incoherent speech, or negative symptoms, such as a flattening of emotions.
- Personalizing. You blame yourself for everything.
- Magnifying. You focus on the negative aspects of a situation, ignoring any and all of the positive.
- Catastrophizing. ...
Some people feel that self-talk creates a “presence” around them that makes them feel better. This can help with loneliness. But in some cases, when people talk to themselves in an erratic or muttering way, it could indicate a mental health disorder.Is talking a lot a form of anxiety? ›
One symptom of anxiety is nervous chatter or, simply put, talking too much.How does schizophrenia start off? ›
The exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Research suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors can make a person more likely to develop the condition. Some people may be prone to schizophrenia, and a stressful or emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode.Can you be slightly schizophrenic? ›
Residual schizophrenia is the mildest form of schizophrenia characteristic when positive symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia (hallucinations, delusional thinking) are not actively displayed in a patient although they will still be displaying negative symptoms (no expression of emotions, strange speech).How does a schizophrenic person act? ›
Schizophrenia usually involves delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that don't exist), unusual physical behavior, and disorganized thinking and speech. It is common for people with schizophrenia to have paranoid thoughts or hear voices.What do you call a person who talks a lot but says nothing? ›
A loquacious person talks a lot, often about stuff that only they think is interesting. You can also call them chatty or gabby, but either way, they're loquacious.What is a one sided talk? ›
(disapproving) (of an argument, opinion, etc.) showing only one side of the situation; not balanced synonym biased.At what age is loneliness most common? ›
A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) points out that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.Which age group is the most lonely? ›
Young people feel loneliness the most
The BBC Loneliness Experiment surveyed 55,000 people and showed that 16–24-year-olds feel loneliness the most.
What Is a Loner Personality? Loners are people who actively try to stay as far away as possible from social interactions. They prefer solitude over the company of others and tend to enjoy being preoccupied with their thoughts. Loners usually don't mind sitting idly or waiting, so long as they are alone when doing it.What causes non stop talking? ›
Compulsive talking can and often is connected to mental health issues. Researchers at the University if Arizona found that those who talk excessively about themselves are less likely to be narcissists (no research has proven this concept) and more likely to be suffering from distress, depression or anxiety.What is it called when a person can't stop talking? ›
logorrhea Add to list Share. If someone's always mouthing off and just can't shut up, they've got logorrhea, a pathological inability to stop talking. Sounds better than "loudmouth."Why do some people talk non stop? ›
There are several reasons why someone might talk excessively. It might be due to nerves, excitement, a desire to connect with others, or simply because he is the only person familiar with a subject at a social gathering. Sometimes, someone takes over the conversation and prevents others from speaking.What is a person called when they only talk about themselves? ›
You know those people who always seem to talk about themselves and never let other people speak in conversation? There's actually a word for that: a conversational narcissist. To better understand this type of narcissism and how to know if you're talking to one, mbg spoke with psychologists and clinical therapists.What are the two types of self-talk? ›
Self-talk can be both negative and positive.How do I stop being so talkative? ›
- Meditate to calm yourself.
- Visualize yourself staying calm and allowing others to speak.
- Spend some time sitting with your emotions. Consider how you're feeling, accept those feelings, and then release them.
- Journal to help you work through your thoughts.
The term “conversational narcissist” was coined by sociologist Charles Derber who describes the trait of consistently turning a conversation back to yourself. A balanced conversation involves both sides, but conversational narcissists tend to keep the focus on themselves.Why do some people talk so much about themselves? ›
Some people talk about themselves because they genuinely think they're more interesting than anyone else they know. But many people, like Max, are overwhelmed by their own feelings and push them away by talking.How do you deal with people who only talk about themselves? ›
- Consider why. Ask yourself why they might be preoccupied with their own stuff. ...
- Focus on common interests. As friends, it's likely you have at least one shared interest you can dive into. ...
- Get personal. ...
- Ask for their opinion. ...
- Tell them how you're feeling.