AUG 22, 2017 4:08 PM PDT

Is talking to yourself normal?


Don't deny that every once and a while you give yourself a little pep talk, be it in the mirror or right before stepping into that important meeting. Sometimes that pep talk takes place inside your head, but other times you find yourself actually talking out loud...to no one but yourself. But because we are capable of hearing our own voices in our heads and are able to have an internal dialogue with ourselves through what's called "inner speech," why do we sometimes talk aloud to ourselves?

Although talking to yourself has historically had a stigma of mental illness, in most cases, it is quite normal. A Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky proposed that we talk to ourselves (psychologists call this private speech) because when we first learned to talk our thoughts and speech aren't really connected. He hypothesized that at around age three we start talking to ourselves in order to connect our inner thoughts to our outer speech because it's at that age that inner speech emerges and our thoughts become more like verbal sentences. And although that habit of practicing our words out loud curbs shortly after, anyone who's ever learned a second language knows that verbalizing your thoughts is a critical step in mastering a language.

Using speech to direct your actions is another way that talking to yourself can be helpful. I know I'm not the only one who has ever dozed off while reading a textbook, and sometimes reading to yourself out loud can help focus your concentration. But sometimes talking to yourself, depending on what you're saying, can actually be more of a distraction than a help. Have you ever been caught up in a text conversation and person-to-person conversation at the same time and found yourself texting what you meant to say aloud? Happens to the best of us. Want to understand more about why we talk to ourselves? Watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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