The Happiness Connection  

It's OK to talk to yourself

Do you talk to yourself? I do.

Let me clarify. I don’t have conversations where I ask questions and then answer them. I verbally process my thoughts.

It isn’t a behaviour I developed consciously. It wasn’t until my siblings teased me about it that I became aware of its existence. It tends to happen when I am frustrated, annoyed, or trying to work through a problem.

I have been teased for decades that this is the first sign of madness, and for many years, I tried to hide this habit from others. 

When I was at university in Victoria, I found a mirror that said, ‘You can talk to me now. No one’s looking.’ 

I bought it and proudly hung it in my room for all to see. It provided me with a huge sense of relief. 

Whether the creator intended to mock rather than console didn’t matter. To me, the mirror unveiled the possibility that other people talked to themselves, too. I wasn’t alone.

I’ve become more comfortable over the years about owning who I am. I don’t try to hide my personal conversations the way I once did. It helps that anyone who passes me in the car probably assumes I am talking on the phone, not to myself.

Despite this increase in self-acceptance, I felt comforted when I stumbled on an article called, The Neuroscience of Everybody’s Favourite Topic. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-neuroscience-of-everybody-favorite-topic-themselves/)

What is your favourite topic to talk about? You!

According to the research outlined in this article, when you are having a conversation, about 60 percent of what you say will be about you.

That statistic rises to 80 percent if you are communicating on social medial.

The researchers from the Harvard University Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab wanted to see what parts of the brain became active when subjects talked about themselves rather than about other people. 

They discovered that talking about yourself activates the same areas of the brain as sex, cocaine, and good food. 

You talk about yourself because it feels good.

They took these findings one step further. Does someone need to be listening to you when you talk about yourself, for it to be a pleasurable experience?

As a self-proclaimed self-talker, this caught my attention. Do I get subconscious pleasure from my verbal processing even though no one is listening to me? I’m certain my topic is almost always me.

The same process as before was repeated with one difference. This time some of the responses would be shared and some would be kept private.

Each participant brought a friend or relative with them. These companions were put in an adjoining room. 

Before subjects were asked questions about themselves or others, they were told whether their response would be live broadcast to the person they brought with them, or kept private, even from the research team.

The results showed that both talking about yourself and sharing your response brings pleasure. It also uncovered that these are additive. The greatest enjoyment comes from talking to other people about yourself; the least from talking privately about others.

Although it isn’t as high, talking privately about yourself still comes with a strong hit of pleasure. That means that private self-reflection like writing in a journal or talking to yourself are feel-good activities. 

Remember that next time you need a mood boost. Get out a photo album and write, think, or talk about your memories.

I’m not sure what happened to my mirror from university, but this year I bought some wall art that gave me a similar level of comfort. 

‘Of course, I talk to myself. Sometimes I need expert advice.’ 

More The Happiness Connection articles

About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories