When no one is around, we’re all guilty of committing heinous social crimes, right? We pick our noses. We spend ridiculous amounts of time scrolling through texts, emails, and Instagram feeds while sitting on the toilet until our legs turn numb. We use our index finger to spoon Nutella into our mouths at 2 a.m. just for the sake of pleasure.
Most importantly, we also talk to ourselves...a lot. While this last social crime is older than Nutella and indoor plumbing, it’s a habit many of us are still embarrassed to admit.
According to Paloma Mari-Beffa, PhD, a senior lecturer of psychology at Bangor University, speaking aloud is good sign. In a story published for New York Magazine’s Science of Us, Dr. Mari-Beffa delved described our “inner talk” as a healthy mechanism for maintaining a fit brain. When we speak to ourselves we “organize our thoughts, plan actions, consolidate memory, and modulate emotions.” Therefore talking aloud is merely just an extension of this. So don’t worry...it’s totally normal.
In a study, 28 participants were asked to read a list of instructions silently or aloud to themselves. The participants were then tasked with completing the instructions. Dr. Mari-Beffa discovered that those who read the instructions aloud had better concentration levels and performance levels. So the next time you’re repeating “keys, wallet, and phone” in an effort to remember your essentials before leaving your home, remember this isn’t just some eccentric way to help your memory. Your brain responds favorably to the sound of your own voice telling it what to do.
Still don’t believe it? Then look no further than an intense sports game, where it’s often pretty natural to hear athletes give themselves a pep talk in an effort to remain focused.
“This can probably help explain why so many sports professionals, such as tennis players, frequently talk to themselves during competitions, often at crucial points in a game, saying things like ‘Come on!’ to help them stay focused,” she said in New York magazine. “Our ability to generate explicit self-instructions is actually one of the best tools we have for cognitive control, and it simply works better when said aloud.”