Why am I talking to myself 1

“I was very happy to talk to me” - the art of talking to myself

"Or do we want to make lasagna?" I asked in low volume as I was inspecting the vegetables at the entrance to our provincial supermarket. For a few weeks I swapped Hamburg for my old home, a Westphalian village, to support my parents in these weird times of the Corona crisis. However, they hadn't come along to go shopping. I talked to myself. "Oh no, dad doesn't want anything with noodles," I replied, clicked my tongue and shook my head slightly while an employee maneuvered a pallet truck with pallets past me.

She raised her eyebrows and grinned slightly mockingly. “Another one!” And “More supplies? Spirits are three courses up, ”her face seemed to say. I shrugged my shoulders briefly. And two minutes later I asked myself aloud, while looking through the very large shop: "If I were vegetable broth now ... where would I be standing here?"

Hear, hear: it is probably the time to talk to yourself

"Thinking is the soul's self-talk," said the Greek philosopher Plato - and clearly, which soul has no need to talk more thanks to the Corona crisis and six weeks with parents?

I know it's not just me. A friend recently told me that he had overheard a walker in the street talking intensely to himself. At first he thought: "Well, he's crazy." But when he listened more closely, he noticed that the Lord himself was giving a lecture on the philosophical foundations of communism. So eloquently that my friend followed him for a while, fascinated.

A close friend, on the other hand, who is currently living with her parents with her husband and two children, told me: “I have just come out of the laundry room, where I first treated myself to a five-minute rant about my mother. Just for me So I don't know what to do if I couldn't even say out loud to myself what I think. "

Another admits: “I always thank myself for cooking and then compliment myself on how good it tastes while I eat. What is new is that I can now also talk to the vegetables in my fridge. Especially today about broccoli: 'Do you want to put the peas in a pot ...? "

It's obviously a great time for self-talk, and that's fine with me: Because now I can confess that I've always talked to myself in secret. I discuss relationship problems with myself, practice important conversations with friends or salary negotiations in advance. In detail. Sounds stupid, I know. But that calms me down. And in the end the discussion with myself almost always leads to insights.

As a rule, it is about the internal dialogue that pushes outwards

So far, however, I've refrained from speaking out loud to myself when I was around people. I wonder whether my supermarket self-talk about pasta dishes is still "normal" or whether it is promoted by isolation and general insecurity. Should I be worried? And with me all the other people who talk to themselves more often in spring 2020 than usual? I ask Merle Seemann, she is an NLP coach and body therapist. As an occupational therapist, she also works a lot with perceptual disorders from geriatrics, psychiatry and neurology. Above all with psychotics who do not speak to themselves, but with voices in their heads. So you can tell if I'm crazy. “Don't worry,” she reassures me, “when you talk to yourself, as you describe it, it's usually about simply saying what others are thinking. These conversations are inside anyway, it doesn't really make any difference that you answer each other out loud. ”So my supermarket conversation is actually just an extension of what I've already negotiated with myself inside anyway.

Talking to yourself is also an outlet for emotions that have built up and are intensely looking for their way outwards: The eruptive “Damn shit!” When you miss the train on the way to an important meeting. The “GEI-EL!” Exclamation when the longed-for headline for a text finally comes to mind shortly before the deadline. The wild insults that I hurl at my computer when the Enter key is stuck again: "You little w *****, I'll throw you out the window!"

People who are more structured by themselves need less self-talk, says Seemann. “They might just make a shopping list and know exactly what they want. If, on the other hand, you are impulsive or chaotic, speaking out your thoughts aloud helps to meet the many stimuli of the environment and to organize yourself. You sometimes forget the public, but then feel ashamed when you are caught. "

Do you listen to your own voice messages? Go ahead!

Funny that it is still so frowned upon to speak to yourself in public. Where we are used to people on the street supposedly talking to themselves while talking on their headphones or talking voice messages into their cell phones for minutes - and then maybe even listen to them themselves. I do that sometimes. Not because I like to listen to myself, but because it helps me understand how I look, how I come across, or how I have said certain things.

Perhaps it should become clearer to us that almost all people talk to themselves on a daily basis - mostly only internally and not out loud. Speaking out can help regulate feelings and thoughts, train perception and focus. And it even fuels our intelligence. This is what researchers from Bangor University in Welsh found out. "Instead of being a sign of a mental illness, it can make self-talk more intellectually competent," says senior neuropsychologist Paloma Mari-Beffa. "The stereotype of the mad scientist who talks to himself lost in his own inner world could also point to a genius who uses whatever means at his disposal to improve his brain performance." Even victories in sports are more likely if you do speaks to himself in the second person. That was also found out in Bangor ("Come ooon, Serena! You can do this !!").

Most of them only let their self-talk become loud when they feel unheard: during the break in the toilet, in the car - or at home, like Miranda in the British sitcom of the same name, who speaks and sings with her Fruit Friends out of loneliness.

It makes (almost) no difference whether you speak softly or loudly to yourself - unless you are schizophrenic


Psychologists do not differentiate between “smaller” self-talk in their own four walls and those in public. Merle Seemann explains why my self-talk in the supermarket has no pathological traits: "You are not responding to an instruction from inside that told you that the saleswoman is an alien." So I am aware that I am talking to myself.

Because of course, the situation is different with dialogues that people with multiple personality disorders conduct or the different voices that are triggered by acoustic verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia. A special case are the spontaneous, uncontrolled exclamations of profanity, as they happen to some Tourette patients.

The US psychologist Thomas Brinthaupt from Middle Tennessee State University, an authority on self-talk, already recorded four functions of self-talk with colleagues in the so-called “Self-Talk Scale” in 2009.

There are four reasons people talk to themselves

Firstly, the conversation serves self-management (“I definitely have to send the letter to the post later…”). Second, it helps to assess social situations and control impulses. It reminds me of my buddy K., to whom I actually wanted to say the other day that I puke his constant bad mood and that he shouldn't have so much self-pity. When I had this interview with myself beforehand, I quickly realized that this attitude, in turn, sucks. In the Zoom conversation I preferred to positively reinforce him with two gin and tonic: “You can do it.” And lo and behold: He wasn't whining at all.

Thirdly, the self-talk gives us undisguised self-criticism ("Roland, dude, what kind of limitless banal nonsense are you working on here again?"). Unfortunately, this criticism - and it is best to repeat it aloud three times in a row - is also the biggest trap in self-talk. Lots of people get there beyond measure. And express negative voices from parents, teachers or opponents. Perhaps the dissatisfied inner child or the guilty conscience also break through. The fatal thing: If you keep repeating these voices, at some point you really believe that you simply cannot do anything and that everything will turn out badly anyway (“I told you beforehand”).

At some point I even gave my inner critic a smart-ass name: Knut-Henning Ahlefeldt Loervig, aka The Inner Censor (DIZ). Sometimes I ask him (inwardly) how he finds a text passage, or sometimes I say something out loud like: "Knut-Henning, now breathe easily through your pants!" I have the feeling that he is now more relaxed than before.

That brings us to the fourth point: self-affirmation! “Roland, you clever fox. These are totally relevant thoughts, a lot of people want to read this, stay tuned ... “We tell each other far too seldom that we are basically great, and instead let our inner Knut-Henning clink the opposite willingly.

Of course, there are also mixed forms. An example is the often quoted, one and a half minute and hamlet worthy monologue by Tommy Haas in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open 2007. He calls himself Haasi, puts himself down, “I can't do it!” (That's not good), speaks in the second person at (exemplary!), quarrels, scolds, shakes his head and finally pushes himself: “You can't lose it! Fight. Fight. Fight! ”In the end, he still wins the thing.

Talking to yourself makes life more colorful

I think you could add a fifth point to the scale: Talking to yourself can also simply be for entertainment. A friend from Berlin said: “Sometimes when I come into the kitchen for breakfast, I say aloud sentences like these: 'Hello, my name is Hannelore Strackwitz and I am the first authorized signatory at Dr. Schömmler KG. I will show you the production facilities today. Please put on this white coat and follow me. ”This reminds me of the title of the novel“ Only the pudding hears my sighs ”. Every morning the groceries in my friend's kitchen hear the sighs in distributed roles. Because he's lonely? No, because he enjoys it.

That's phenomenal: we can reinvent the often gray reality, counter it with something or say things that we would never entrust to anyone - not the secret crush, the caustic colleagues or parents certainly not at all. In my self-talk, I was already an adventurer, the most quick-witted speaker and Federal Chancellor - a deliberately exaggerated version of myself.

Talking to each other always helps. Even in the current crisis. So why not with yourself too?

I ask Thomas Brinthaupt, the self-talk specialist from Tennessee, about my assumption that more people are talking to themselves. First of all, he says: "Research suggests that both internal, silent and private, loud self-talk can have positive functions," he says. And when we are faced with challenges, barriers and stressors, as is the case with the current pandemic, “then we have to engage in self-regulation - and self-talk is an important tool that supports us in this process. It helps us to find out what we have to do in the short term, how we understand and process the things that have happened and how we can prepare for the longer-term future. ”The self-talk as an instrument to cope with Corona? That sounds totally logical to me.

Brinthaupt assumes that while a longer stay alone or socially isolating experiences could be associated with increased self-talk, an even more important factor is the experience of individual experiences that are cognitively disruptive. Now, in times of Covid-19, don't both come together for many people, or are they even conditional? Brinthaupt writes to me that he does not want to confirm this as long as it has not been proven by a series of tests. He explains, however, "that stress increases the chances that our traditional filters that prevent loud self-talk are less effective." In other words, "I would suspect that people actually speak aloud to themselves more often than in less crazy ones." Times. "

The inner monkey needs clear commands

The Berlin naturopath for psychotherapy Judith Garay believes that the corona situation offers a good chance to enter into a dialogue with yourself. “Whether we want it or not. In this way we are encouraged to deal with our inner voices, to listen to them, to answer them, to talk to them. ”Whose fear is actually talking to me? Is it the abandoned child who wants to be fooled? The insecure who sees his life go down the drain? "They all have their justification, but through the inner dialogue you can enter into communication with them and reconcile them with one another." She also breaks a lance for constructive self-talk, whether loud or mute: who constantly says: 'You can't do it!' does not gain the upper hand. "

The inner dialogue, “which one can of course also conduct aloud”, is clearly a psychotherapeutic tool for her: “In Hinduism it is said that our mind is a crazy monkey with a knife in its hand that doesn't leave us in peace. Sometimes he needs very clear commands. ”I call the monkey a thought carousel. Maybe the sentences I say aloud are something like carousel brakes.

For Judith Garay, talking to herself is not so different from talking to other people: “Even when talking to friends, we want to get feedback on our own ideas and concepts, to reassure ourselves,” she says. "Ultimately, we always speak to ourselves first and foremost when we communicate with others."

So next time someone looks at me diagonally in the supermarket while talking to myself with lasagna, I will walk on with my head held high. If you think that you never talk to yourself, you have probably never really listened to yourself. One cannot fail to communicate with oneself. And sometimes you just need particularly clear and loud announcements.

Editing: Theresa Bäuerlein, final editing: Susan Mücke, picture editing: Martin Gommel