Say What? How Talking to Yourself May Help Your Motivation

Say What? How Talking to Yourself May Help Your Motivation

We are all guilty of it. Whether it’s done accidentally, purposely, or just by habit, talking out loud to yourself is a regular part of life. Many find people who have a habit of talking to themselves crazy or mentally unstable, but on the contrary, they are sharp, thinking rational people.

New York Times

According to the New York Times talking to yourself out loud can be motivational. Psychologists call it external self-talk, and there’s research that it can influence behavior and cognition. Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan supports these findings. He says, “Language provides us with this tool to gain distance from our experiences when we’re reflecting on our lives. And that’s really why it’s useful.” The two types of self-talk most people partake in are instructional self-talk such as talking yourself through a task and motivational self-talk such as “I can do this.”

Research

During a study, Social and Behavioral Sciences examined the effects of both instructional and motivational self-talk with individuals playing basketball. They found players passed the basketball faster when they used the motivational self-talk. The psychologist Ethan Kross also saw a difference on how people refer to themselves when talking to themselves. The study constructed that the subjects spoke about themselves in the second of third person had less anxiety while achieving, and their friends also rated their activity level better. Mr. Kross explains that the reason why talking to yourself out loud in third person works is that of self-distance. He uses the example of someone giving advice on solving a problem. It’s easier for an outsider to give advice because they’re not involved with the problem. They can think more clearly because they have distance from the experience.

How Instructional Self-Talk Speeds Up Cognitive Abilities

The next time you’re having a hard time finding something you’ve lost or something you need while shopping use instructional self-talk. During an experiment, Gary Lupyan a researcher and psychology professor found that subjects who said the name of the object they were looking for finding the item faster and more accurately. The study discovered that saying the article out loud made them more aware of its physical traits and made them stand out among other objects. However, in order for this to work, you have to know what the object looks like.

When & How to Use Self-Talk

In closing motivational self-talk works best on activities involving speed, strength, and power, while instructional self-talk works best on activities involving focus, strategy, and technique. If you haven’t already started using out loud self-talk to your daily routine and notice how it affects your motivation, you can begin today.

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