People Who Talk to Themselves Have a Captive Audience

How many people talk to themselves? As you’re reading this, you might even be saying to yourself, “Who me? I don’t talk to myself.”

There are those who think people who talk to themselves are crazy, but nothing could be further from the truth. People who talk to themselves are competitive and they are often trying to better themselves.

I’m constantly talking to myself because when you do this you are coaching yourself. It’s an opportunity to give yourself some constant, immediate, unfiltered feedback. You have access to yourself 24 hours a day. And the price is right.

Years ago, when I was building Mackay Envelope Company, I had a lot of pep talks with myself. I had to, in order to keep my dream of owning my own company alive. I had plenty of ups, many downs, and needed all the encouragement I could get. And it wasn’t always coming from other sources! So I kept telling myself that things would work out… that I could pull this off… that I was the right person for the job. Forty-plus years and a few zillion envelopes later, I’m glad I listened.

In doing some research on this subject, I discovered that “private speech,” as psychologists call it, starts as soon as kids learn to talk, typically between 18-24 months. It serves two purposes: It (1) helps kids practice language skills and (2) allows them to reflect on daytime experiences. (And let’s not forget how it entertains eavesdropping parents.) In elementary school, kids begin to transition to self-talk or intra-personal communication.

“A lot of parents think that it’s socially unacceptable or weird if a child talks to himself,” says Laura Berk, distinguished professor of psychology at Illinois State University and author of Awakening Children’s Minds. “But in fact it’s normal and typical, and we find that children who engage in task-relevant private speech generally perform better over time.”

I agree 1,000 percent.

Unfortunately, as kids become adults, I’m afraid they grow out of talking to themselves. Maybe it’s because society frowns on it. But the self-talk I’m referring to is not a sign of insecurity, insanity, or schizophrenia.

I talk to myself to help me think and map out my thoughts, to provide feedback, and, probably most important of all, to motivate myself.

Jack Canfield, co-creator of the wildly successful “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books, tells us that research shows that the average person talks to him/herself thousands of times a day! There’s a downside to this research, however: It is 80 percent negative. Things like what you should have done or said instead of what actually happened, your shortcomings, your fears, and so on. Those negative thoughts have tremendous influence over our behavior. But you can change them.

I advise every one of you to continue to talk to yourself throughout your life. I want you to ask yourself: How am I doing? Am I living up to my commitments? I want you to evaluate yourself after a presentation or after a one-on-one with a potential customer. Tell yourself what you could have done better, what you absolutely aced, what you will do on the next call or with the next customer.

As with a lot of things, you have two choices. You can talk yourself into success or failure, into feeling good or bad, thinking positively or negatively. The choice is yours, but you can train yourself to use self-talk as a positive tool. It is up to you to decide whether the conversation in your head is helpful or hurtful. Remember, you can talk yourself out of negative thoughts.

And if you need more than talk, try a little visualization exercise too. Seeing yourself as successful, seeing where you want to go, seeing how you will get there — add that to your self-talk and you can be invincible.

People talk about the brain as a computer. You need to program your brain to motivate yourself. Turn off the autopilot and take control of what you tell your brain to do.

Attitude is everything. You must build up your confidence and positive energy. Focus on the best thing that can happen, not the worst. Too many people talk themselves out of good ideas. Let your thoughts take you where you want to go.

Mackay’s Moral: Great success can come from small conversation.

[Ed. Note: Harvey Mackay has written five New York Times bestselling books, two of which were named among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time – Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware The Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.  His latest book, Use Your Head To Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You, was released on Feb. 18.  Harvey is a nationally syndicated columnist and has been named one of the top five speakers in the world by Toastmasters International.  He is also chairman of the $100 million MackayMitchell Envelope Company, a company he started in 1960.For two free bonus reports featuring Harvey’s most powerful essays on leadership, goal achieving, business success, and much more, go here.]

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  • N

    “I talk to myself to help me think and map out my thoughts, to provide feedback, and, probably most important of all, to motivate myself”.
    This is *exactly* but exactly what I do. Yeah, I talk to myself when I’m up, when I’m down and when I’m sideways. My kids think I may be losing it because I live alone. But that’s not it. I don’t constantly mutter to myself for no reason at all, but there are definite times when I talk to myself to clear my head and put things into perspective. These aren’t hour long conversations with added gesturing, just quick words. One other thing it helps me with is feeling Empathy for a person I’ve been upset with.

    Thanks for a great article.

  • shirley

    it’s a bit of a rehearsal for me. sometimes i say things out loud to play the same event over in my head to listen to my tone & remember my actions so that i know exactly what other options are next time in the same scenario.

  • Armando Esqeurra

    wow this article made me feel better. My girl thinks I am crazy cause I talk to myself. This made my day.

  • Wyatt

    well i have not yet seen anything on someone constantly having a conversation with themselves that lasts 30 minutes at a time, wich is excactly what i do. So i still feel that i am not normal as everyone else.. And when say not normal, i believe it is NOT unique, but more of a negative quality.

    • Miglet

      I can talk to myself for a long time (like hours) as well, but in another article I found what a psychologist said that made me feel better. She said that as long as I don’t actually believe I’m talking to someone, I’m not hurting myself, I am in control of when those conversations happen (generally when I’m alone or think no one is paying attention) and by doing this “self talk” it helps to provide psychological and emotional relief, than I am not crazy.

  • Cheri

    (And let’s not forget how it entertains eavesdropping parents.)

  • I also talk to myself all through out the day and I have been wondering if it is normal? I think talking to myself is like thinking out loud, sometimes to hear something in addition to or instead of seeing something as a visual it helps me. I believe each person has needs and their needs are met in different ways.

  • salma

    how about me?

    I’m talking to myself because I’m addicted to. It’s something that i can’t stop it never ever.

    I’m imaging the future and what will happen if I , why something happen while the other is not, why I’m doing that …..etc.

    a lot of idea ,it’s coming to my brain , and if i forget talking to myself a days , i will not good . I’m feeling i have a lot of idea , that i need to say.

    thanks a lot

  • Nyada

    This was a great help. I thought i was the only one in this world who talks to myself.
    I usually talk to myself when i’m alone, sometimes i try recalling what i said in a situation before and sometimes i talk to myself about myself (if you understand). Before i take any decision i usually talk to myself about the advantages and disadvantages of the decision i’m going to take, and it’s consequenses in the future.
    I usually dont talk to myself inorder to motivate myself although it mostly helps me to clear out my mind.

  • jeff

    Oh yeah, 1000%, agreed with author of this. Yep. Believe it or not you’ll get feedback too, somehow, from the world, from people as well. Whether this is spiritual or not is a mystery, but yeah, it’s like somebody is listening out there besides myself. Been doin’ this too for a few; you’ll find out who’s who some, and what’s what; it’s not perfect but oh yeah, you’ll end up a ruler of destiny doin’ this self talk deal. It works.
    Only thing can add to this is try not to be too public with it, cause it can cause a negative effect/affect. Make it personal mostly I do. Like at home or residence alone, but don’t fear thinking someone can hear you, as in the neighbor next door. Work it out with yourself, the self talk will unbelievable work itself out where you’ll find time and place to talk to yourself with no problems what-so-ever.
    Somebody out there is listening, spirits or not, it’ll work with you and next thing you know, you rule, sometimes like an elite. Unbelievably!

  • T.M

    when you speak anything out loud you are using more of the function of your brain not just thought but speech and motor skills to form words it allows your thoughts to be amplified its almost like increasing your ram in your mind you are comprehending with more than just one sense.
    when you day anything out loud it may sound different than the thought allowing for greater insight and thats without the cost of an advisor remember no one knows or understands or comprehends you better than you but when you verbalize your thoughts it allows you the ability to be able to share with others your thoughts with more clarity

  • brylle

    works for me too…it’s a way of self-evaluating for assessment that keeps me out of trouble most of the time…it just gets better if you talk to yourself honestly, as if you are talking to your true feelings and to God…

  • pm1

    I’m talking to myself right now.

  • pm1

    Actually, in the car, I bet many people talk to themselves out-loud. I do. “What a moron”! You stupid jack-ass”! Etc. I live in the North-East. It’s a daily occurrence.

  • Sara

    I totally talk to my self when I am all alone; I have basically full on conversation and debates with myself, I guess I just like hearing the sound of my own voice!

    And of course who else is there to talk to if you’re all alone?

  • Donal

    I think people talk to themselves to analyze what it is thats on there mind. Sometimes in life we want answers and clarity and by talking and analyzing whatever the topic/situation might be I gain alot of comfort. I also feel like im developing my mind/intelligence and wisdom by trying to create a more open and accepting(warmer) personality to the certian curcumstances in which I/others might find themselves in. I actually get closure/satisfaction by searching for answers aloud.