You may find it strange when someone in your neighborhood wanders and talks out loud to himself. Yes, it may feel strange but this phenomenon of talking out loud is completely normal. Many mental health professionals even consider the habit a healthy one.
Is talking out loud Normal?
We start to talk loud to ourselves in our childhood. When a child touches a hot object then he screams ‘hot hot’ and runs away from the place. From our childhood, our brains learn the technique of talking out loud to ourselves and it gets incorporated into our neural pathways. Therefore in our adult life, we frequently resort to talking out loud, whenever we find ourselves in challenging situations.
Many research studies have proved that talking out loud is within the norm. Lev Vygotsky, a developmental psychologist, claimed that self-talk has an active mental role. In a research study, he observed children performing certain tasks while talking out loud. In the study, he found that talking out loud had a critical impact on the children’s mental development.
As we age, this loud self-talk is replaced by muted inner-speech. The inner speech also facilitates several cognitive functions and we prefer silent inner-speech over loud self-talk in our adulthood. In certain intense situations, we resort to loud self-talk that at times feel awkward. But, in fact, self-talk is a normal phenomenon that we practice in our early years.
A New York-based clinical psychologist, Dr. Jessica Nicolosi, asserts that talking out loud is normal and we talk to ourselves constantly. Dr. Jessica further added that talking out loud is also a healthy habit that has many benefits.
Benefits of talking out loud
Talking out loud in both normal and distressing situations may accrue many benefits. Some of the benefits of talking out loud are;
Improves Learning: Loud self-talk improves our learning capabilities. The effective technique for improving learning is to ask self-explanatory questions. When you ask a question like what I have read? Or what is the purpose of the text? Or how does this particular lesson fits in the whole story? then you are focusing all of your energies on the particular text. These sort of self-explanatory questions and the ensuing self-talk improve our learning and memory functioning.
Increases Creativity: Talking out loud also increases creativity. Loud self-talk not only helps in retrieving pre-existing ideas from the memory centers of your brain but also creates new ideas in the process. When we speak out loud, each word and sentence brings forth existing ideas and the process also triggers new neural connections that help in arriving at new ideas.
Enhances Motivation: Talking out loud also increases your motivation level. When you talk out loud about something then you focus all of your energies on it. Psychologists called it ‘selective attention’ which essentially means focusing on one thing at a time. When you focus on a goal then nothing can hold you back from achieving it. Research studies have shown that athletes who reaffirm themselves about their success are more likely to succeed than those who don’t.
Relieves Stress: When we are caught in a distressing situation then talking out loud helps us relieving our stress. While engaging in loud self-talk, we connect with the language center of our brain that slows down our thought processes. When distressing thoughts are slowed down then we can check our stressors and can come up with better stress management strategies.
Processes Difficult Emotions: Besides relieving stress, talking out loud also helps process our difficult emotions and feelings. If you are facing difficulty in managing a difficult emotion or feeling then take some time and talk out loud. In the process, you will unpack your deep emotions and can come to terms with them. Thus their harmful impact will be significantly diminished.
When and How to talk out loud?
While talking out loud can happen at any time as it is a spontaneous phenomenon but practicing loud self-talk at night in a quiet and serene environment will do wonders for you.
- Find a Quiet Space: Whenever you feel down then find out a quiet space like your bedroom either at night or in the morning. After finding your space, just unpack all of the disturbing emotions and you will see that they are no more pinching as intense as they were. You can also unpack those deep emotions and feelings with yourself which you can never share with your closest family member or friend.
The dedicated space will ensure that you are completely comfortable with saying out loud those deep emotions that are only confined to you.
- Saying the Right Things: While talking out loud, you have to pay attention to your words and themes. You must say positive things and deal with one theme at a time. Avoid the use of negative words and instead use positive and assertive words like hardworking, creative, assertive, etc. When you use negative words then they reflect in your daily communication and thus will affect your confidence and self-identity. On the contrary, saying positive words will enhance your confidence and performance.
Also, our unconscious mind doesn’t process negative words. For instance, when you say, “I will not think of this distressing event”. Then your unconscious mind takes it as, “think about this distressing event” and in consequence, you can’t stop thinking about the particular distressing event of your life.
Likewise the choice of words, it is equally important to discuss one theme at a time. For instance, you should talk about loneliness in one session and about your job performance in the other. When you choose one theme in a sitting and explore it in-depth then you will readily come up with a workable strategy for dealing with the problem.
- Discuss the theme in its Entirety: When you are talking out loud about a certain issue like your loneliness then you have to discuss it in its entirety. For instance, you must consider both positive and negative aspects of your loneliness. By discussing both good and bad aspects of the theme, you will arrive at an informed decision.
- Listen to Your Thoughts: Like other conversations, loud self-talk is also a two-part process as it involves both talking and listening. When you talk out loud then also pay attention to the response of your mind. When we ask a question, our mind responds with a thought. Listen to that thought as well; if you want to master the art of loud self-talk.
- Take notes of your Self-talk: Taking notes while talking out loud is the best way to monitor your self-talk session. By taking notes, you will monitor your vocabulary used during the session. This habit will also keep you on the one theme in the entire sitting. Finally, your notes will improve your consequent self-talk sessions.
- Practice it until it becomes a habit: Finally, practicing loud self-talk consistently will yield results in long term. It will improve your emotional control and guide your behaviour in demanding situations. If you practice it one day and leave it for a week then you may not get the desired results.
Last but not the least, if you are in the habit of loud self-talk but still are bothered by imagined anxieties and worries then it is high time to consider a professional therapy or counselling session. Professional counselling and therapy can eliminate all of your imagined anxieties and worries.
When Talking out loud becomes Abnormal
Though talking out loud is perfectly normal but there are instances when you may require professional intervention. You may need professional counseling or therapy when you talk to yourself most of the time and are unable to break this habit on your own. A professional therapist can also help you when you are feeling awkward about talking to yourself loudly.
Your therapist will assure you of the benefits of talking out loud and you will be able to see the positive impacts of the habit after undergoing the therapy. In many instances, you will feel a social stigma because of your self-talk habit as many around us still consider self-talk as a manifestation of an underlying mental health issue. So, if you are facing any social stigma then it is time to take an appointment with your psychologist.
Finally, in certain mental health conditions like schizophrenia, the patients talk out loud. In these cases, the patients are not talking to themselves. Rather they respond to auditory hallucinations. They respond to the imagined voices. If you are also experiencing some hallucinations then immediately contact your mental health professional.
Speaking out loud is generally considered abnormal in our societies but in fact, it is a good habit to keep. You can reap many benefits by sticking to this great habit. Talking to yourself loudly will not only relieves your stress but will also improve your performance by igniting creativity and guiding your behavior in demanding situations.
However, if you are indulging in excessive self-talk or responding to some auditory hallucinations, then it is the right time to seek professional help. If you are up to booking an appointment with a professional mental health expert then our friendly and experienced professionals can help you overcome your uncontrollable self-talk habit. Generally, only one counseling and therapy session is enough for tackling the problem but more sittings may be required if the problem has a long history. So, don’t wait and grab an appointment today.