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Benefits of talking to yourself and when to worry

Darvin Nelson, News Editor

Let’s face it, whether we’re in the shower or home alone for a while, we sometimes exchange a few words with ourselves. So, if you’ve been wondering if it’s normal to talk to yourself and crack up at your own jokes in the shower, don’t worry, it’s quite natural. 

“In general most people do talk to themselves — at least occasionally,” said Associate Director of the UNF Counseling Center Dr. Michael Malec. “For the vast majority of the time that they do that, it’s not a bad thing, in fact sometimes it could be beneficial, even healthy.”

Quarantine, or just having a lot of free time from not having on-campus duties, might’ve allowed you to get reacquainted with yourself, leading to some pretty interesting inner dialogue. Some of us even have the habit of enduring full length conversations by our lonesome before abruptly noticing that we were doing so.

Photo by Ladislav Bona via Unsplashed.

We understand a lot about ourselves, so we often become our own therapists — and talking to yourself can be very therapeutic. 

“Talking to yourself can be a powerful tool for boosting mental health and one’s cognitive functioning […],” Dr. Malec explained. “Talking to yourself can somewhat help you stay focused, it can validate what you’re thinking about by saying it out loud, and it can make your emotions — in regards of what youre talking about — more manageable. Sometimes just venting and just talking about it can relieve emotions.”

Dr. Malec also says that self-talk can sometimes help a person get through the difficult parts of doing a difficult task. 

“When focusing on a difficult project, sometimes it helps by explaining the process out loud to yourself — it can help you see solutions better,” Dr. Malec explained. “Self-talk can be a motivating thing, for example you can encourage yourself out loud — kind of work through the process.”

Asking yourself questions about the process also helps you with the task. 

When you do ask yourself questions, or speak to yourself in any manner, you might want to refer to yourself as “you” instead of “I.” 

“Talking to yourself can be better if you do it in second or third person because that kind of provides you with an emotional distance: ‘You are strong’” Dr. Malec noted.

If you want to scale down your daily dose of self conversation, there are some alternatives. Keeping a journal is a great way to clear your mind. It can be quite healing and sanative. Journaling helps pour out your rowdy thoughts, complaints, strong opinions and emotional baggage — leaving you feeling lighter and more at peace. 

“Journaling instead of talking out loud can be helpful in terms of ventilating, Dr. Malec said. “Putting it on paper sometimes serves the purpose of talking out loud.”

Talking to your friends is another alternative to talking with yourself. It can be hard to trust others with our thoughts, so choose reliable people to speak with.

What you speak to yourself about can affect your mental health. If you find yourself talking down on yourself often, or degrading yourself to the point of emotional distress, you may want to tell a trusted friend or family member, or seek professional counseling.

“In terms of making the most out of talking to yourself, it is probably better to use positive words as opposed to being self-critical and degrading yourself,” Dr. Malec stated. “Blaming yourself or speaking to yourself harshly negatively affects motivation and self-confidence.”

Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider via Unsplashed.

“Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative,” the Mayo Clinic reported. “If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.”

It’s important to talk nicely to yourself, but some people may be too afraid to even begin self-talk.

In many areas, there is a stigma that surrounds self-talk, and people sometimes associate it with “insanity,” or “being crazy.” 

There is a big difference between self-talk and losing touch with reality. Dr. Malec explained that people with underlying mental conditions, such as schizophrenia, don’t necessarily talk to themselves, but are responding to auditory illusions. So, talking to yourself doesn’t make you “crazy.”

Though, you should also seek professional support right away if you hear voices or experience any auditory hallucinations.  UNF’s CounselingCenter provides  Psychiatric Services that are available to the UNF community. The center provides psychiatric consultation and medication management to students who present issues suggesting that evaluation by a psychiatric professional would be appropriate or helpful. 

The Counseling Center also has an emergency support system by phone to students with urgent mental health concerns. Call (904) 620-2602 and select option 2 — the line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

A lot of people talk to themselves for so many different reasons, especially in times of lonesome. So next time you’re congratulating yourself, predicting a future conversation, or telling yourself a killer joke, remember that it’s okay. Your self-talk may just go from inner speech to inner peace.

___

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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