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The Art of Talking To Yourself » Why It Does Not Always Mean You Are Crazy

I maybe having the first sign of madness, but talking to myself actually helps me in making sound decisions. Yes, I may sound crazy, but this is not a statement of paranormal; it is a statement of truth. We all have an inner voice…and I consider mine as an ally.

Most of the time I am telling myself things I would never let anyone else say to me. This way I am not letting my inner voice tear down and strip away my confidence. This is the beauty of self-talk and I think I am not crazy. Self-talk is not bad, or wrong, or a sign of psychological problems. It is, I think, normal. Here’s a quick research I did on this topic.

What the hell is self talk?

In psychological terms, the talking is referred to as self-talk (wow, not a very complicated term, eh?). It’s also known as verbal persuasion, an important component of self-efficacy conceptualized by psychologist Albert Bandura presented in his social cognitive theory. Self-talk is a way of describing all the things we say to ourselves all day long as we confront obstacles, make decisions, and resolve problems. Self-talk is not "talking to yourself" in a literal sense, although it sometimes does involve talking out loud (I know a lot of person who do that – thinking out loud as they say.)

Why talking to yourself does not always mean you are crazy

Yodz talking, shouting, cursing....TO HIMSELF
 Usually, it is part of our thinking process, or what we call "stream of consciousness." As we are presented with problems, or decisions, we might think, "Okay, how do I handle this?' or "This looks like it is difficult, I better ask for help." or "I know how to fix this!" Self Talk is how you talk to yourself through out the day. It may be comprised of either positive or negative statements.

As a general rule, negative self talk is anything that puts us down or limits our actions, on the other hand positive self talk makes us feel good or motivates our actions. Positive self talk is extremely beneficial and will enhance the effects of future programming techniques. Once mastered, it will result in an attitude that anything is possible.

It is not madness, and it’s good for you, say scientists
Okay, Sir Yodz this is how we will handle this...
There has been a wealth of research in psychology that supports the advantages and usefulness of self-talk, especially when combined with other peak performance strategies. It is not madness, and it’s good for you, scientists have found.

According to researchers, it can even strengthen dieters’ willpower, help defuse arguments and improve decision-making.
Psychologists from the University of Toronto in Canada asked volunteers to complete several challenges to test their self-control. In some, they were prevented from talking to themselves by being forced to recite one word repeatedly.

Researcher Professor Michael Inzlicht said: "Through a series of tests, we found that people acted more impulsively when they couldn’t use their inner voice or talk themselves through the tasks."

In one challenge, the volunteers performed a test on a computer. If they saw a particular symbol appear on the screen, they were told to press a button.

If they saw a different symbol, they were told they must refrain from pushing the button. The majority of the symbols required the volunteers to press the button, making this become an impulsive response.

Their self-control could be measured by how well they resisted pressing it when an alternative symbol did appear. The second phase of the study included measures to prevent participants from exercising their inner voice while performing the tests, to see whether blocking this dialogue had any effect on their powers of restraint.

In order to stop the volunteers talking to themselves, they were instructed to repeat one word over and over as they performed each test.

Professor Inzlicht said: “Without being able to verbalise messages to themselves, they were not able to exercise the same amount of self-control as when they could talk themselves through the process. It’s always been known that people have internal dialogues with themselves, but until now, we’ve never known what an important function they serve. This study shows that talking to ourselves in this “inner voice” actually helps us exercise self control and prevents us from making impulsive decisions.

Alexa Tullett, author of the study, added: “We give ourselves messages all the time with the intent of controlling ourselves – whether that’s telling ourselves to keep running when we’re tired, to stop eating even though we want one more slice of cake, or to refrain from blowing up on someone in an argument. We wanted to find out whether talking to ourselves in this “inner voice” actually helps.

The team’s research has been published in the science journal Acta Psychologica.

CAUTION: Talk to yourself instead of allowing “yourself” talk to you

According to David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, author of the book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, it is important that we must talk to ourselves, instead of allowing “ourselves” to talk to us. He suggested that the main trouble in this whole matter of depression in a sense is that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. He further stressed that most of our unhappiness in life is due to the fact that we are listening to ourselves instead of talking to ourselves.

Be good at being yourself

We can now safely conclude that outward success first starts with inward success. The trick is we have to learn the secret strategies to winning communication with ourselves. Everyday we talk to ourselves and about ourselves.

We affirm our beliefs, explain our behaviour, and predict our future. We persuade, cajole, order and suggest stuff constantly and consistently. For this reason alone we can be very good at being the person we really want to be.

The lesson? Learn self talk the right way -- it's a valuable performance tool.
At the very least, I tell myself that.

Photo Credit:
» Yodz Doube Trouble by Aldan Reposo January 2011
» Talk to the hand by cold-wind-of-death [Retrieved 28 January 2011] { Category: Digital Art / Photomanipulation / Surreal

» Bandura, A. (1992) Exercise of personal agency through the self-efficacy mechanisms. In R. Schwarzer (Ed.), Self-efficacy: Thought control of action. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.
» Franklin, Donald J., Ph.D., “Self-talk”. Psychology Information Online [28 January 2011]
» Daily Mail Reporter. “Is talking to yourself a sign of madness? No it's good for you, say scientists” 23rd September 2010 [28 January 2011]
» University of Toronto. "Inner voice plays role in self control." ScienceDaily 22 September 2010. 31 January 2011 .
» Tullett, Alexa. The voice of self-control: Blocking the inner voice increases impulsive responding. Acta Psychologica, 2010
» Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn, 1965. Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans

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