The Ways in which we Talk to Ourselves is Meaningful
Do you talk to yourself? Of course you do, most people have some sort of internal dialogue, whether it comes in the form of helping you remember a sequence of numbers, talking-out a big meeting presentation or motivating yourself, etc.
There is usually some sort of self-talk in-motion within our brains. Some have even gone as far to say that people who frequently talk to themselves have a higher IQ, and could even be considered geniuses.
In an interview, in WSJ magazine, neuroscientist and experimental psychologist, Ethan Kross, who specializes in regulated emotions, provided some additional insight into how we can practice replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones:
“There is a lot of research that shows we are much better at advising other people than ourselves. So it can help to think of yourself as if you are someone else. One way to do this is to use ‘distanced self talk’ and coach yourself as if you were advising a friend. Use your own name. ‘Ethan, here is how you do this.’ Many people do this intuitively without knowing why.”-Ethan Kross
If you are like me, I self-talk aloud (literally) a lot, which may sometimes get strange looks from others, but it can also be just to yourself, like a whisper. However, when you have a dialogue with yourself, the ways in which we do it is actually really important.
“When we experience chatter we narrowly focus on our problem. What we want to do is zoom out. Think about our experience as something that many people deal with. Think about other people who have experienced something similar and have endured it.”-Ethan Kross
Experts in psychology have found that people that have more positive and helpful talks, rather than negative or self-sabotaging chatter, have a higher quality of mental health, generally more satisfaction towards life and even have physical benefits like better cardiovascular health.
There can certainly be times where our thoughts and the ways we speak to our inner self could be negative and damaging. Like you make a mistake at work, said something embarrassing to a crush, dropped your eggs as you were about to make an omelet, the list goes on.
“We experience awe when we are in the presence of something vast that we have trouble explaining. When we experience chatter we are narrowly focused on our problems. Experiencing awe shows us how much broader the universe is. And that puts things into perspective pretty significantly.”-Ethan Kross
There could be a tendency to want to judge ourselves too harshly for not being “better”. Furthermore, our world has experienced some very real instability lately, with the pandemic, which could easily push our propensity for negative self-talk or chatter downhill towards more anxiety and be more “worry driven”.
The negativity we internalize when we self-talk, based on research, makes problems worse, causes stress and is ultimately toxic. Stepping back and trying to see something bigger than ourselves could be one way shift our perspective.
We should instead learn to curb or greatly reduce and replace any negativity with more helpful talks.
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