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Why Talking to Yourself Can Be a Good Thing

Thinking is great, but sometimes you need to have a direct conversation with the person in the mirror.

Positive self-talk
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Talking to ourselves—it’s one of those things sometimes discussed in earnest tones about mental well-being. Or it’s sometimes used as a self-deprecating quip that we should find someone else to talk to.

But I believe in self-talk. I always did, but during the pandemic it feels more important than ever. As my access to a broad group of other people to chat with has been so limited, talking to myself is one way I meet myself where I am and encourage myself to walk a positive path through each day. Self-talk doesn’t substitute for relationships. But it is a tool to cultivate a positive relationship with ourselves.

Let me be specific about what I mean by self-talk. Sometimes it’s repeating a list of ingredients I am on my way to grab from the pantry as I walk over. Sometimes it’s a question that crosses my mind. And sometimes it’s a literal long look in the mirror to meet my own gaze and speak words I need and want to hear.

I also mean self-talk as an out-loud thing, different from the inner monologue we all have. Speaking out loud (or quietly) to myself brings a kind of energy into my self-talk that thinking just can’t do. I’ve also found that my vocal mutterings tend to reflect—and be reflected in—my internal thoughts.

This is important, because we must observe our self-talk for signs that it’s skewing into the realm of “rumination” or circular, self-defeating negativity. If you feel you have slipped into a negative self-talk habit, keep count for one day of how many times you’ve talked down to yourself by making a note on your phone or a pad of paper. The next day, set a goal to decrease the number of negative comments by a set amount. Continue until you have at least halved this draining habit.

Have you noticed you’re talking to yourself more during the pandemic? How does that serve your positive lifestyle?

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