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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you overcome the habit of talking to yourself out loud. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
Do you find that you talk to yourself too much?
This concern may be rooted in a person’s self-consciousness or anxiety.
It’s easy to think that talking to yourself may be unhealthy or strange. But, in fact, it’s not!
Talking to yourself is a perfectly normal and legitimate way to be. Many people talk to themselves whether they notice it or not.
It’s common for people to sort through life’s challenges because it helps you direct your stream of thoughts and solve problems. And conversationally sorting through your thoughts is essentially talking to yourself. People do that all the time.
There is one significantly important time when talking to yourself is something you should be concerned about. If you are talking to yourself because you feel you are responding to external speech from someone not there, you should seek mental health help. That may be a symptom of mental illness that needs to be addressed by a mental health professional.
That said, there are good and bad ways to talk to yourself. For example, talking to yourself can serve as a way to better work through problems and improve your peace of mind, or it can be used to unfairly tear yourself down. And, even still, you may find that you are talking to yourself out loud in situations that might be troubling or embarrassing.
In this article, we will reveal some tips and strategies to help you stop talking to yourself. We will also discuss some ways to make your self-talk healthier and more productive, which may help reduce your need to talk to yourself.
How do I stop talking to myself?
Talking to oneself can be an unwanted behavior when you find that you’re doing it in embarrassing or harmful ways.
For example, talking to oneself is fine under many circumstances, but it may not be fine if you’re at work or in a personal situation where it may not be appropriate.
The big issue is that anything you do often can easily become a subconscious habit—something you just do because that’s what you do. Talking to yourself can easily become a bad habit if it’s something you do too often.
So, how do you stop talking to yourself?
1. Become aware of your behavior in the present moment.
Many of us are swept along in our lives by the responsibilities that we must accomplish. We are constantly thinking about what comes next, what comes next, what do I need to do next? And because of that mentality, we often find ourselves not really focused on the present.
A person who is talking to themselves often enough may not be aware of their behavior in the present because their thoughts aren’t in the present.
That’s where practices like mindfulness can help to ground you and make you aware of your present actions. Instead of being swept along by your thoughts and the pressure of everything else you must do, mindfulness allows you to stop and notice what you’re actually doing right now.
Try to monitor your thoughts and figure out when you are talking to yourself most often. Is it a conscious choice you are making? Probably not since you’re here looking for informal advice on how to stop doing it.
You may find that it’s when you’re otherwise occupied with work or your thoughts aren’t in the present moment, allowing you to default to that habit.
2. Redirect your self-talk.
It’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to identify and stop talking to yourself every time. Instead, you may find that you periodically pick up on certain situations or circumstances where it happens.
Perhaps you do it mostly when you’re running around, stressed out, and anxious. Well, if you know you’re going to be in a situation where you’re stressed out and anxious, you can pay closer to attention to your actions then.
For example, let’s say you mostly talk to yourself at work when you are running around with a lot to do. You’ve identified that you talk to yourself mostly at work, so you can keep a closer eye on yourself during these times. Then, when you identify situations when you will talk to yourself, you can bring the conversation back into your head to think about instead of talking out loud.
3. Occupy your mouth so you can’t speak out loud.
You may find that occupying your mouth with something to do can help you stop talking to yourself out loud.
A light bite on the lip when you catch yourself doing it, chewing gum, or taking a drink can help you shift your thoughts and behavior.
You may also want to try mouthing the words without actually saying anything out loud. This is helpful for people that work out problems by talking the problem through to themselves.
4. Allow certain situations to talk to yourself.
We’ve already established that talking to yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it mostly depends on the context of when you’re talking to yourself or how often it is. That means that you don’t need to eliminate it as a habit.
Give yourself permission and space to talk to yourself in specific circumstances. Maybe you talk to yourself when you’re doing a hobby and just thinking to yourself in some personal time.
It could also be that you need to sequester yourself away in a private place at work to verbally sort out a problem you’re trying to navigate.
Heck, even talking to yourself in your car while you’re driving to and from wherever you need to be can be a good option.
Any circumstance where you can have privacy to sort out your thoughts without being disturbed or disturbing other people is optimal. After all, you don’t want your talking out loud to disrupt the people around you which will just call attention to yourself and make it that much harder to figure out what you are trying to figure out.
5. Occupy your mind if you are bored.
Maybe the problem isn’t that you have too much to do and you’re falling into a bad habit. It could be that you don’t have enough to do to keep your mind occupied. It may be that you’re just bored and talking to yourself has become a way for you to provide yourself with some intellectual stimulation.
You may be able to redirect this behavior through activities that will more actively engage your mind. Try reading books, doing puzzles, or playing games that require focus. They will help you ground your thoughts into the present where you can better pay attention to your actions.
You may also want to consider jumping on YouTube or any of the number of sites that offer free classes to learn something new.
6. Socialize more.
Sometimes people talk to themselves because they don’t feel like they have anyone to talk to. The truth is that some people just don’t have anyone that they can talk to. They may not have friends or may have a difficult time getting out there to socialize. Sure, it’s easy enough to say, “Well go make a friend or two!” But it’s not typically that easy.
Still, there are options. If you’re having a hard time in life, you may find that counseling or a warmline can help. A warmline is a mental health line where people who are having a hard time, but not in crisis, can reach out to talk to someone.
You may also want to try picking up a hobby or class that will give you an opportunity to socialize with and meet other people. If you have a local art center, they typically offer painting or crafting classes where you can meet other people. There are also meet up websites where you may be able to find activities where you can meet other like-minded people.
Take a look at your interests. Might any of them allow you to socialize more with other people? If so, lean into them. If not, maybe it’s time to push your boundaries to explore life a little bit more to try to forge some connections.
7. Journal to get it out of your head.
There is a style of journaling that encourages you to get what’s going on in your head out onto a page. It’s less structured than journaling often is. The whole idea is just to write out your stream of consciousness, ask questions of yourself in the flow of the writing, and then answer them to yourself.
This kind of practice is helpful because it mimics the same processes that are going into talking to yourself, but is quietly put onto a page. You essentially accomplish the same goal with the added benefit of having a written record to go back to and look over when you want to.
In essence, you can stop talking to yourself by writing to yourself instead.
Journaling is a powerful tool for self-improvement, mental health management, and habit building. Stream of consciousness writing can be a fantastic tool for sorting out your thoughts and problem-solving.
How do I healthily talk to myself?
The brain is an interesting thing. The way it processes information can be changed based on how you consume and evaluate it. Different methods of consumption and evaluation fire off different parts of the brain, which can improve problem-solving capabilities.
In the context of talking to yourself, speaking to yourself out loud engages the brain’s language centers. This forces you to slow down your thoughts in such a way as to organize them to effectively speak them. The benefit of slowing these thoughts down is a better ability to sort through them meaningfully.
People with anxiety or who find themselves overwhelmed easily may find themselves drowning in excessive thoughts. They may not be able to figure something out or form a coherent plan to deal with a problem because there is just too much going on in their head.
On the other hand, talking to yourself about the issue forces you to stop and focus on how to articulate the problem and potential solutions to yourself. That can improve the chances of actually working through it.
There are some things to consider when talking to yourself constructively.
1. Be kind.
The way you talk to yourself matters.
Negative self-talk is an effective way to tear your self-esteem and worth to pieces in no time.
Furthermore, negative self-talk often leads to negative outcomes. If you tell yourself that you’re worthless, unable, or incapable of doing the thing, that’s what you’ll believe and how you’ll act.
You can’t tell yourself, “What’s the point of trying when I’ll just fail?” If you do, you’re just setting yourself up to fail.
Positive self-talk is more likely to lead to positive self-esteem and good outcomes. And if you can’t be positive, just try to be neutral in your speech.
For example, don’t insult yourself or tell yourself that you are incompetent or unable. Instead, try focusing on a problem-solving mentality. For example, “How can I do what I need to do?”
Unfortunately, anyone can fall into this trap, even generally positive people. Fear, doubt, and worry can creep into your self-talk if you don’t stay aware of your thoughts.
2. Use self-talk for motivation.
A great way to use self-talk is to get yourself hyped up for success. You may find that cheering or hyping yourself up can put you in the right mental space to achieve your goal.
A great example is athletes who talk to themselves to get amped up to compete. First, some may cheer themselves on to get their adrenaline going. Then others may talk to themselves to focus their thoughts on the challenge ahead of them.
Think about other times in your life when you may have done this inadvertently. Maybe you were getting ready to ask that attractive person out and needed to hype yourself up to take action. It could be that you were nervous heading into a job interview, and you needed to remind yourself about why you’re going to succeed. Maybe you were just struggling with something hard and needed to sort out a method of creating success that you found through talking to yourself.
Self-talk is a helpful way to succeed at what you’re doing. Sometimes you’re the best cheerleader for yourself.
3. Talk yourself through extreme emotions.
Life brings many challenges. Sometimes those challenges are overwhelming and intense. There can be a lot of emotional turmoil in the things we face. That can be difficult to work through in the quiet of your mind. Some people spend time twisting and turning those thoughts over and over in their heads, getting overwhelmed because they can’t string them together coherently.
That is where talking to yourself can be really helpful. Talking about the emotions that are going on in your head helps you to organize them, which assists in processing them. This is why the common mental health advice is to “talk about it” or journal your emotions. These two acts force you to sort through the thoughts and emotions healthily instead of ruminating.
Talking to yourself about your extreme emotions can provide a valuable counterbalance that keeps you from being carried away by the emotion. It’s easy to get swept up in the momentum of an extreme emotion if you are not aware of how and why you are feeling. By talking to yourself, you can help reground yourself in the present moment instead of being carried along.
4. Remember to listen to yourself.
Effective self-communication comes down to both talking and listening. Self-listening is just another way to say self-awareness. And self-awareness is to examine your thoughts and emotions, understand why you’re thinking the way you are, and then correct your course when necessary.
You don’t want to fall into the habit of mindlessly chattering to yourself through important things. That is not to say that every moment of self-talk needs to be some deep and insightful thing that addresses the most extreme and difficult problems in your life. No, you can talk to yourself about anything, and it’s perfectly okay.
But when you’re working through deep emotions or problems that you’re experiencing, you need to ensure that you’re actually considering what your brain is kicking back out at you.
For example, let’s say you’re in a relationship that isn’t going so well. You may sit and talk to yourself about what you’re experiencing, how it’s going, and how you think you can improve it. But your brain keeps kicking back doubts about why it will not improve.
That may be anxiety or depression introducing fatalism to the equation. It may also be that your brain is raising legitimate reasons why this relationship isn’t working out. Certain nagging doubts can have strong validity.
Maybe one of you wants kids, and the other doesn’t. It could be that there is a significant difference between religious, political, or cultural beliefs. There may also be major differences in how you handle finances and spending. Unfortunately, these things are considered common relationship breakers because they’re not really something you can compromise on for the most part.
5. Self-talk as an instructional tool.
Sometimes we have a specific goal we want to accomplish. It can be helpful to talk yourself through it to stay on task and follow the necessary process.
Consider the example of putting together a bookcase you bought from a furniture store. It will come with a booklet of instructions that walks you through the assembly process step-by-step. They tell you what hardware is included, when and where to use it, and how to put it together, so you end up with the bookshelf you wanted.
The same kind of methodology can be applied to any problem that you’re trying to solve or the goal you’re trying to accomplish.
For example, you may know the process but have difficulty remembering the steps. Speaking them out loud can help you commit them to memory, so you know the next steps. For some people, repeatedly saying the same thing can help it sink in and stick.
When is self-talk a problem?
As previously touched upon, a certain kind of self-talk can point to a potential mental health problem. Certain mental illnesses include impulsiveness and disordered thoughts. People struggling with impulsiveness may be saying too much of their internal monologue. They may also express thoughts that are out of the ordinary, concerning, or even dangerous.
A person with a mental illness like schizophrenia may have jumbled thoughts that come out in ways that don’t make sense. They may talk to themselves but cannot piece together or follow their own train of thought. This may be difficult, if not impossible, for the person to pick up on themselves. It may require an outside person to point out if the person is in a good position to understand what’s happening.
Should you find that you are concerned or scared about your self-talk and what you’re thinking, the best thing you can do is talk to a mental health professional about what you’re experiencing.
However, beyond that, there’s nothing wrong with appropriate self-talk. Not only is it healthy for you, but pretty much everyone does it from the time they are old enough to start talking.
Still not sure how to avoid talking to yourself so much?
We really recommend you speak to an experienced therapist. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can provide tools and advice that allow you to identify inappropriate self-talk and stop it in its tracks.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
You may also like:
- How To Stop Talking Too Much: 11 Highly Effective Tips!
- 8 No Bullsh*t Steps To Silencing Your Inner Critic
- How To Shift Your Inner Monologue Towards Something A Little More Upbeat