Talking to Yourself Is Not Crazy, It’s Actually Beneficial

'External self-talk' improves one's focus and problem-solving abilities, say psychologists.

June 11, 2017 5:00 am

If you’re the kind of person who talks to themselves a lot, it’s not all that weird.

In fact, you should take the opportunity to tell yourself that there are behavioral and cognitive benefits to the practice.

According to University of Michigan psychology professor Ethan Kross, “external self-talk” is a reflective act fueled by people trying to see things objectively. Self-talk is split into two broad categories—instructional and motivational—and the practice can actually boost one’s problem-solving and task performance capabilities.

Kross likened the benefits of self-talk to advising a friend about a problem. It’s often easier to counsel others because we’re not as invested in the problem ourselves, and can approach it from an objective distance. Self-talk is how we replicate that distance to talk ourselves through difficult tasks or situations.

Similarly, a study published in Procedia measured the effects of instructional self-talk on basketball players, and found that each players’ performance improved when they talked themselves through various tasks. Their focus also improved, suggesting that talking themselves through each task cut out external distractions.

In other words, don’t feel bad about reading this article out loud when you’re alone.

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