It’s official – talking to yourself is good for you

Talking to oneself is both more common and more useful than we expect. Studies at the University of Nevada suggest that up to 80% of our mental experiences relate to conscious or unconscious, unspoken verbal conversations. Other research shows that the words we use have a substantial impact on what we observe. So much so that simply giving a name to an obscured object increases our ability to recognise it.[i]

Coaching and mentoring appear to work, in large part, by externalising conversations with ourselves and by helping us become more attentive to thoughts, observations and behaviours that we might otherwise have ignored. This suggests that certain questions can be particularly powerful in helping a client achieve insight. For example:

  • What are you noticing and not noticing about this issue?
  • What name are you giving this behaviour?
  • What alternative names can you give it? How does that change what you observe?
  • What could you do to improve the quality and usefulness of the inner, unconscious conversation you have with yourself on this issue?

[i] Robson, D (2010) The voice of reason, New Scientist 4/9/2010 pp30-33

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