I was at a local event when a person approached me and asked me if I needed anything. First, I was confused, but then it hit me. I realized that I was talking to myself again. This time, I was in public uttering words with no one present, just me, myself and I.
This is normal for people that talk to themselves. They grow so comfortable that they don’t realize where they do it anymore.
But psychologists consider this a fairly beneficial trait. They have labeled a term to it, too – external self-talk. Even though talking to yourself is considered outlandish by many, psychologists say that it increases our cognitive abilities and the way we perform things.
University of Michigan professor, Ethan Kross, says that language offers us a unique perspective on our lives when we’re distancing ourselves from our experiences. Through external self-talk, people take an objective view on what ever they’re talking about.
How you talk to yourself matters, too.
2 Types of self-talk
Experts say that there are two different types of self-talk. You’re probably used to the first type, which is instructional self-talk. This is when we instruct ourselves to complete a certain task.
“Come on, you can do this!” is a great example of motivational self-talk which we use to inspire ourselves. It may sound cliché, but trying to motivate yourself through self-talk works significantly.
Research published in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences tested how instructional and motivational self-talk has an effect on a team of basketball players. Their findings were pretty impressive.
Players that instructed themselves to finish a task out loud (example pass the ball) showed better performance rates. The study also went on to say that how we refer to ourselves when we talk to ourselves matters, too. Experts also studied the effects on internal self-talk, when you talk to yourself in your head.
Again, the results were impressive. The players who talked to themselves internally things like “You got this” or “You can do this” showed better performance rates as well. This is because they distance themselves, and take the position of a third person.
A good way to understand this is by thinking about how we offer awesome advice to friends or family. By having a third person perspective, you avoid being sucked in by tension and anxiety, resulting in an objective decision, not emotional.
So if you’re overwhelmed and need advice, try talking to yourself in third person.
Instructional self-talk raises our cognitive abilities. So the next time you’re searching for an item at your house, try to talk to yourself out loud and you’ll find it faster.
The study found that when you say a word out loud, you become aware of its physical characteristics. Scientists asked a group of participants to say the word “banana” out loud. The ones that said “banana” found a picture of a banana much faster than those who didn’t.
When basketball players instructed themselves out loud on how to shoot the ball, they ended up performing more accurately. The key takeaway is that we remained more focused when we instruct ourselves in third person when pursuing multi-step tasks. It keeps you grounded on where you exactly are and guide you to a higher performance rate by keeping away from distractions.
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