Talking out loud to yourself doesn’t mean you’re losing your mind. Current psychological research shows it to be quite a common habit, and one that can be healthy.
Dr. Thomas Meyer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at McGovern Medical School at UT Health, agrees with these findings. “I think actually what it really helps with is keeping people more focused,” he says. “For example, I use it quite a lot in psychotherapy where I make people write down what they have to do, and to read it to them as kind of self-instructions.”
Dr. Meyer says hearing a voice telling you what to do can help guide your steps efficiently. “A lot of thoughts are going through our minds. We’re in a constant [state of], you could almost say, auto-pilot,” he notes. “And if you speak aloud, you’re actually concentrating more. I think you’re more organized.”
Dr. Meyer also notes the value of self-affirmation, which many athletes use. “Sometimes it also helps to be, like, more positive, almost like praising yourself,” he says. “Like self-motivation as well, to keep going.”
Interestingly, he says speaking to yourself in the second person seems to be more effective. “We always thought it’s better if people talk in the ‘I’ version, like ‘I will do this,’” Dr. Meyer points out. “But there was some research that even showed it might be even better to talk to yourself in the ‘you’ version, so ‘You’re going to do it. You will succeed.’”
Dr. Meyer says he’s not aware of any physical health benefits, except perhaps indirect ones that come from talking yourself into walking a second mile.