Talking out loud to yourself, also known as self-talk, external self-talk or private speech, has been a subject of interest in psychological research. There are several potential benefits associated with positive and motivational self-talk. Here are a few insights based on scientific findings:
Enhanced cognitive functioning: Self-talk can improve cognitive performance and problem-solving abilities. By verbalizing thoughts and ideas, individuals can organize their thinking, clarify their understanding and generate new insights. It can help in tasks that involve planning, decision-making and goal-setting. Gary Lupyan, a researcher and psychologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted an experiment during which some subjects looked through a stack of photographs saying out loud the name of an object they were looking for. Others remained quiet. Those who verbalized what they were looking for tended to find the object faster, reports the New York Times.
Emotional regulation: Expressing emotions through self-talk can facilitate emotional regulation and self-control. By expressing feelings and thoughts aloud, individuals can gain better awareness and understanding of their emotions, which can help them manage and regulate their emotional states effectively. Research has shown that talking to yourself in the third person can be effective in calming yourself down, according to Psychology Today.
Improved focus and attention: Talking to oneself can help maintain focus and sustain attention on a particular task. Verbalizing instructions, reminders or key points can enhance concentration and reduce distractions, especially in complex or demanding activities. A study from Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, shared in Science Direct, showed that basketball players who repeated motivational affirmations while they played performed better than those who didn’t.
Self-reflection and self-awareness: Engaging in self-talk provides an opportunity for self-reflection and self-evaluation. By speaking aloud, individuals can analyze their behaviors, thoughts and beliefs, gaining insights into their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. This process can contribute to personal growth and self-awareness, writes Courtney E. Ackerman, who has a master’s degree in positive psychology and program evaluation, in Positive Psychology.
Skill acquisition and learning: Self-talk can be particularly beneficial for learning and skill acquisition. By talking through steps, processes or concepts, individuals can reinforce their understanding and retention of information. This is especially useful in tasks that require memorization, comprehension or practice. Brian Ross, a psychologist from the University of Illinois, questioned everything he read — a tactic known as self-explaining — to get through a computer science course, reports the Harvard Business Review.
Learn more about the benefits of self-talk in the Blue Cross Virtual Well-Being℠ webinar, “The Many Benefits Behind Talking Out Loud to Yourself.” You can also sign up for future employer-focused and individual well-being webinars and meditations here, where you’ll find past webinars and meditations on demand.
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