The misunderstood benefits of talking to ourselves

Maybe it’s my age but I’m noticing an increasing tendency to talk to myself. I hear myself giving instructions about the next chore, keeping myself on track with the little things I need to do to make sure the kids have clean laundry, or a nourishing evening meal. This is a trait that I recognise from my Mum. She always laughs when I point out that she’s talking to herself again – and here am I doing the same thing.

I’m curious about it. When I tell myself to go and get the dirty washing from upstairs, or remind myself to take the chicken out of the freezer, it’s as if I’m persuading myself, or at least I’m ensuring that the things I need to do don’t get lost in the creative chaos of my brain. Verbalising the tasks that are required to keep family life ticking over helps in the doing of them. And when I’ve done them I sometimes congratulate myself, which makes me smile.

Such is the case with writing a journal. Although thankfully I don’t spend too much time writing about my chores in there! Instead I verbalise the creative stuff, the ideas I have, the intuitions and the hunches. This is a different type of dialogue with myself – less directive, more exploratory. And it gives me much more cause to celebrate.

There is tremendous value in talking to ourselves. Hearing our own voice anchors us, either in the day-to-day reality of living, or in the imagining of what our reality could be. Verbalisation, either spoken or written, enables us to give form to our thoughts and to make them real. And this is the place from which real choices can be made.

So if you find things aren’t quite going the way you’d planned them this week – have a word with yourself!



Filed under Journal Writing

6 responses to “The misunderstood benefits of talking to ourselves

  1. Sophie Boyce

    When I was learning to drive my instructor actively encouraged me to talk to myself. When I was talking myself through things I found difficult or scary I was much less likely to panic or do something stupid.

  2. I do it too. More often I’m giving myself a good talking to about not being dim/neurotic/intolerant/overtly rude! This is why I carry a note book around though (or at least leave them in strategic places), because there are times when I talk myself into an idea for a poem or a nice metaphor or a good word. It’s a healthy habit. Keep it up!

    • I agree it is a healthy habit – and know this because of how talking to myself makes me feel – somehow more purposeful and “with it”. So how come it’s got such a bad rap?

  3. I have been a self-talker for as long as I can remember. I think that I think and process thing better because of it. Thank you for the great post and have a great Monday!

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