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Talking to Yourself - A Sign of Sanity

By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D

Though we live in a noisy world, many people struggle with too much silence in their lives. They are either living alone or living with others who are engrossed in their own thing. (That's easy to do in the digital age).

Sure you can always click on the TV, the radio, or your latest digital gizmo. But what happens if you're aching for a live person to talk to? To bounce ideas off of? To appreciate your accomplishments (big or small)?

When you're feeling lonely, chances are you're neglecting to give enough attention to a very special person. One who is always there with you. Who's that? Why, you, of course. So, talk to yourself. Not just in your head. But out loud.

Talk to yourself out loud? Doesn't that mean you're becoming daft? Losing it? Ready for the funny farm? Not at all.

Talking with yourself not only relieves the loneliness, it may also make you smarter. Smarter? How? It helps you clarify your thoughts, tend to what's important and firm up any decisions you're contemplating.

Just one proviso. You become smarter only if you speak respectfully to yourself.

I know one woman, a sane and lovely lady, who is not so lovely to herself. Her self-talk is a testament to everything she has done wrong. "You idiot!" is her hallmark headline, followed with a complete dressing down. "You should have done it this way; you should have been aware of that; you should have thought of it sooner." That kind of self-talk is worse than no talk at all. So if your style is like her style, cut it out ...right now. Begin talking to yourself like you are your own best friend. Which you are. Right?

Here are four types of self-talk that will make you smarter and feel better about yourself:

Complimentary Self-Talk: Why wait to get compliments from another? If you deserve them, give them to yourself. Besides most people aren't going to have the foggiest notion about the little actions you take that serve you well. Like the time you were tempted but decided to bypass the Carvel store because you honored your commitment to yourself to lose five pounds. Doesn't that deserve a shout-out compliment such as, "I'm proud of you." Or the time you finally accomplished a bunch of things that you've been meaning to do? Doesn't that deserve a shout-out "good job!" Kids hear that phrase incessantly while most adults never hear it. Let's fix that right now!

Motivational Self-Talk: You may not feel like doing boring or difficult tasks. Live with others and they'll give you a swift kick in the pants as a reminder to clean up your mess or tend to that tough task. But you can motivate yourself to get going with a much kinder voice. "Hey sweetie-pie, (that's you you're talking to). You've got time this morning to tidy up; how about it?" Or, "Hey, big guy, time to call your accountant before the IRS comes knockin' at your door."

Outer Dialogue Self-Talk: Having trouble with making a decision? Should you stay or should you go? Speak up or stay silent? Buy this gift or that gift? Choices aren't easy. Indeed, because they're so difficult, we often don't really make a choice; we respond impulsively from habit or anxiety. It's much more effective, however, to create a dialogue with yourself so that you can hear what you think. "I want to stay because of xxxx but I want to go because of yyyy. I'm clearly ambivalent. Nevertheless, l need to figure out which decision to make. Time to have an interesting dialogue with myself and see which way the wind is blowing." Having such a dialogue can assist you in making a commendable compromise or a workable conciliation between your wants, your needs and others' expectations.

Goal-Setting Self-Talk: Let's say you're trying to be better organized so the holidays are not so frenzied. Setting a goal and making a plan (i.e. what to do, when to do it, how to do it) can be a big help. Sure you can just make a list, but saying it out loud focuses your attention, reinforces the message, controls your runaway emotions and screens out distractions. Top athletes do this all the time by telling themselves to, "Keep your head down. Keep your eye on the ball. Breathe." It works well for them, why not for you?

Whether you're living by yourself or living with others, you're always living with yourself. So, don't leave yourself out of the equation. Converse, chatter, communicate respectfully with yourself. It's not a sign of insanity. It's a sign of good health.


How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age
Copyright © 2012: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist and success coach who specializes in helping people overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. If your life is one long disconnect between what you intend to do and what you actually get around to doing, check out my new book, How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age.

At my website SixStylesofProcrastination.com, you can take a personality quiz. View a chart that describes the thinking, speaking and acting modes of each procrastination style. Read inspirational quotes just for procrastinators. And if you're pleased with your accomplishments but recognize how much easier it would be with a tailwind at your back, explore my coaching services.

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