I talk to myself. Oh sure we all do it from time to time but me, I do it all the time. In the house, outside, at work, in the supermarket (which usually gets me an odd look or giggle) just everywhere. My mother–in-law laughs at me and my daughter calls me a mutterer. Whenever someone speaks up about it I always tell them “hey, I’m the only one who listens”. Talking out loud to myself keeps me focused, it allows me to seek the advice of someone who knows me, knows how I react to things and knows what I am feeling about things deep down. I find it extremely helpful. So after years of having to say “Oh, I was just talking to myself” I decided to do a bit of research. It seems that talking to yourself can actually make you smarter. So here are 4 types of self-talk taken from her article “Talking to Yourself: A Sign of Sanity” written by Linda Sapadin, Ph.D, to get you and your best friend (yourself) on the same page.
1. Complimentary. Why wait to get compliments from another? If you deserve them, (and who doesn’t) give them to yourself. Besides, most people aren’t going to have the foggiest notion about the little actions you take that serve you well. Like the time you were tempted but decided to bypass the ice cream shop because you honored your commitment to yourself to lose five pounds. Doesn’t that deserve a shout-out compliment such as, “I’m proud of you”? Or the time you finally accomplished a bunch of things that you’ve been meaning to do — doesn’t that deserve a shout-out “good job!”? Kids hear that phrase incessantly while most adults never hear it. Let’s fix that right now!
(I have to admit, I do a victory dance when I beat a hard level in Candy Crush Saga)
2. Motivational. You may not feel like doing boring or difficult tasks. Live with others and they’ll give you a swift kick in the pants as a reminder to clean up your mess or tend to that tough task. But you can motivate yourself to get going with a much kinder voice. “Hey, sweetie-pie (that’s you you’re talking to). You’ve got time this morning to tidy up; how about it?” Or, “Hey, big guy, time to call your accountant before the IRS comes knockin’ at your door.”
(This is where I usually excel at telling me what to do)
3. Outer dialogue. Having trouble with making a decision? Should you stay or should you go? Speak up or stay silent? Buy this gift or that gift? Choices aren’t easy. Indeed, because they’re so difficult, we often don’t really make a choice; we respond impulsively from habit or anxiety. It’s much more effective, however, to create a dialogue with yourself so that you can hear what you think. “I want to stay because of xxxx but I want to go because of yyyy. I’m clearly ambivalent. Nevertheless, l need to figure out which decision to make. Time to have an interesting dialogue with myself and see which way the wind is blowing.” Having such a dialogue can assist you in making a commendable compromise or a workable conciliation between your wants, your needs and others’ expectations.
4. Goal-setting. Let’s say you’re trying to be better organized so the holidays are not so frenzied. Setting a goal and making a plan (i.e. what to do, when to do it, how to do it) can be a big help. Sure, you can just make a list, but saying it out loud focuses your attention, reinforces the message, controls your runaway emotions and screens out distractions. Top athletes do this all the time by telling themselves to “keep your head down. Keep your eye on the ball. Breathe.” It works well for them, why not for you? (My list is of course a vocal one, “Get the laundry put away and then let’s get started on the kitchen oh and don’t forget to make the phone calls you’ve been putting off.”)
One thing about talking to yourself, never, never put yourself down. You are your own best friend, No one knows you better. And deep down your own opinion is the one you will respect the most. So if you go about calling yourself a dumbass you’re not helping your friend at all. Instead when you’ve found yourself in a head-slappping situation, tell yourself it’s okay, we will do better next time. You and yourself will appreciate the support.