Being caught talking to yourself can be one of the most mortifying experiences. Whether you’re encouraging yourself to get a task done or chastising yourself for making a mistake, it’s a nightmare to be called out on it, especially considering the stigma that people who talk to themselves are “crazy.” But if anyone’s ever laughed at you for talking to yourself, the joke’s on them.
According to a new study, talking to yourself is not only totally normal, it might actually be healthy. Researchers at Bangor University asked participants to read written instructions either silently or out loud. They then measured each participant’s concentration and performance of each task. As it turned out, they improved greatly when those instructions were read aloud.
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This isn’t the first study to point to benefits of talking to yourself, either. Back in 2001, researchers found that humans’ brains act more like monkeys’ brains when we stop talking to ourselves—whether it’s silently or out loud.
Apart from talking to yourself being a sign of high cognitive functioning, more researchers are beginning to say that “self-talk” can also help with recalling memories as well as improving your confidence level and sharpening your focus.
“It’s not an irrational thing to do,” said Gary Lupyan, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin. “You don’t know everything you’re going to say—you can even surprise yourself.”
Lupyan, who has studied how hearing ourselves speak can impact our memories, added that saying a name—any name—out loud can be incredibly powerful in recalling memories.
He said, “Think of it as a pointer to a chunk of information in your mind. Hearing the name exaggerates what might normally happen if you just bring something to mind. Language boosts that process.”
And this news gives us a big boost for the next time someone give us a hard time for talking to ourselves! As it turns out, we were doing it right all along.