Mrs. Animal, our kids and grandkids, as well as many of my professional colleagues, are all fond of pointing out that I talk to myself. I always reply that I find it the best way of being assured of intelligent conversation.
I do talk to myself; for me it’s a tool in the toolbox of thought processes. As for the intelligent conversation: Turns out I was right all along. Excerpt:
Research suggests self-talk may help your brain perform better. A study published in Acta Psychologica asked participants to read instructions and then carry out the corresponding task. Some participants had to read their instructions silently, others out loud.
Researchers then measured concentration and task performance. Their results showed that reading aloud helped sustain concentration and enhance performance.
Mari-Beffa, one of the study’s authors, notes: “Talking out loud, when the mind is not wandering, could actually be a sign of high cognitive functioning. Rather than being mentally ill, it can make you intellectually more competent. The stereotype of the mad scientist talking to themselves, lost in their own inner world, might reflect the reality of a genius who uses all the means at their disposal to increase their brainpower.”
Additional research backs up those results. In one study, participants completed item-finding tasks faster when talking themselves through it, suggesting an improvement in visual processing. Others have observed children using self-talk to master complex tasks, such as tying shoelaces.
I found myself doing this just the other day, as I was removing the mower deck from the tractor in preparation for winter. For me, though, it’s not normally task-related. Sometimes it’s directed. I tend to shout at the computer screen when some new outrage pisses me off. Mrs. Animal, who shares our little office building with me during the day, has learned to ignore my outbursts.
So, sure, go ahead and externalize that internal dialogue. Just be a little judicious about it. Talking to yourself while in a crowded elevator, for example, may draw you some odd looks.