Some of the best conversations you can have in life are with yourself. No kidding.
You learn so much about yourself – the why behind your actions, the inner workings of your brain, you name it – while having one-way conversations.
I do it all the time, sometimes even out loud, particularly when I am writing. In fact, as I write this very article I am mumbling phrases before I type them, trying to make them sound just right.
But does that make me crazy?
Researchers Gary Lupyan and Daniel Swingley say no – in fact, they say it actually makes me smarter! Through their research, Lupyan and Swingley have discovered that self-directed speech stimulates the brain and makes it work more efficiently.
As a result, you learn much faster – and better remember what you’ve learned – if you speak to yourself often. The act also ‘exercises’ your brain, boosting self-reliance, creativity and organization.
Rather unsurprisingly, some of history’s smartest individuals – including Albert Einstein – spoke to themselves regularly.
Want to learn more about what makes self-directed speech so awesome? Read on!
1. It helps you locate things.
Twenty people were given the name of an object and told to find it in a supermarket. First, they were ordered to keep silent while searching for the item. In the next test, they were told to repeat the object’s name aloud as they hunted for it.
Surprise, surprise! Subjects were able to find the desired objects much more quickly when they spoke to themselves.
Lupyan mentions one caveat to this in the report:
Speaking to yourself only helps you find an item if you know what it looks like. If you have no idea what exactly you’re looking for, saying its name aloud can actually slow you down. However, if you know the properties of an object, repeating its name will activate the part of your brain where that information is stored.
2. It helps you organize your mind.
The second benefit of talking to yourself is the increased organization of thoughts that comes with it.
Psychologist, Linda Sapadin said in a Psych Central article:
“It [speaking to yourself] helps you clarify your thoughts, tend to what’s necessary and firm up any decisions you’re contemplating.”
You can think of it as being your very own therapist by expressing things aloud.
3. It helps you achieve your goals.
Thirdly, talking to yourself can help you achieve goals. As you talk yourself through the steps required to accomplish a given task, it becomes less difficult.
Sapadin puts it like this:
“Sure, you can just make a list, but saying it out loud focuses your attention, reinforces the message, controls your runaway emotions and screens out distractions. Top athletes do this all the time by telling themselves to “keep your head down. Keep your eye on the ball. Breathe.” It works well for them, why not for you?”
The important thing to remember here is that the dialogue you have with yourself needs to be positive. Saying self-defeating things to yourself will get you nowhere, but being positive, whether you’re looking for a banana or trying to make it to the finish line of a marathon, can work wonders for you mentally and physically.