Talking to yourself: game-changer or deal-breaker?

We all talk to ourselves, and those conversations are probably the most private ones we will ever have during our lives. Besides being incredibly intimate, the way you talk to yourself influences your perceptions, thinking, and the way you’ll eventually act. In the following lines, let’s take a look at how talking to yourself can be a game-changer or a deal-breaker in the way you decide to act and behave and live your life.  

Before we start, though, one thing to clarify. Talking to yourself is normal, and it’s good for you. Despite some old beliefs that this is a disease, it’s not, even if sometimes we find ourselves talking out loud, and people might not get who we’re talking to. Even this has become more normal nowadays, as people appear to be talking into headphones, so even if you’re not, it won’t really show. Talking to yourself is one of those things that you should cherish and make the most of. You won’t have a closer and more faithful partner in this life than yourself, so enjoy the ride!  

Why talking to yourself is so beneficial?  

The first thing this self-talk allows you to do is to take some distance and see things from a slightly different perspective. Positive affirmations and reminders are some of the best ways to talk to yourself. “Yes, this is what I decided to do because of all these reasons; now I just need to do it despite all these nervousness and overwhelming feelings I have right now.” Or just “You are doing great, keep going, you’re amazing.”  

Talking out loud to yourself can be a great motivator. Also, talking to yourself in your head can have the same effect, particularly if you refer to yourself in the third person. “You can do this” or “Teodora, you are strong; this is no obstacle for you.” I must admit I love talking to myself and calling myself Teodora, mostly when joking about something I messed up. It eases the burden.  

You might as well know how brilliant we all are at giving advice to others. That’s why talking to ourselves in the 3rd person is like giving advice to someone, keeping a psychological distance from yourself, and being the most effective in influencing our behavior and cognition.   

For some people, talking to themselves can be instructional; it’s how they learn and guide themselves. For others, it can be a way to keep focus by repeating the task at hand or visualize what they’re looking for. And it can be beneficial in keeping yourself undistracted when there are a lot of distractions around.  

So, in many ways, self-talk, be it out loud or internally in your head, can be a game-changer, the best friend to talk with. That companion helping you stay on track, focused, overcoming challenges, and keeping ahead. Still, what happens in our heads and gets reflected in the way we talk to ourselves is very much dependent on how we’re feeling at the time. So, let’s explore when and how talking to yourself can be a deal-breaker.   

How we turn talking to ourselves into a deal-breaker?  

Of course, when we do something wrong, when we’re down or feel anxiety and depression, it is hard for us to self-talk ourselves out of it. We can easily make a mountain out of a molehill, put ourselves down, invoke all the past mistakes, call ourselves names, and so on. This is not necessarily wrong, and most of all, it is a very well encountered reaction to what happens to us.  

But what if this kind of self-talk is not just an initial reaction, as it should be? What if we put ourselves so down, abandon the will to continue and try harder, learn from the mistakes, and go a different route? “You can’t do that, move on to something else” or “I knew you cannot possibly compare yourself with this lady; she’s so experienced.” And this becomes your deal-breaker; you lose confidence in yourself. With one failure and dismissal at a time, you slowly build this way of thinking about yourself, that you are not what you can be. This may lead in the future to talking yourself out of even trying. And that’s where it all becomes too dangerous.   

Lao Tzu put this into such nice words: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”  

Turning talking to yourself into a game-changer  

Regardless of what others say about you, you are your best friend and the biggest fan even in hard times. “You fucked up big time, but it’s not the end of the world. You are just so much more experienced now. Let’s find a way out” or “My God, you can be such a wonk somedays, but that’s your charm. Let’s apologize now and do the right thing.”  

Trust how you are, your strengths, and your qualities. Nobody is perfect, don’t put yourself down because you want to be perfect. Don’t overkill it by overthinking the small things. Make a joke, move on, focus on the day ahead. Spend some time thinking about what you can learn, and move on. Most often than not, you will realize the devil is not that black, and your worst fears were not fully substantiated.  

Learn to be kind to yourself, joke about the fuck-ups, put aside what you heard others say about you (unless it’s good!), learn as much as possible. Every time a new opportunity arises, be your biggest cheerleader and push yourself towards making the most of it. That’s how you and your inner voice buddy will make the best team to succeed!