Is Self-Talk A Sign Of Mental Illness

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Positivity Pledge: I shall no longer allow negative thoughts or feelings to drain me of my energy. Instead, I shall focus on all the good that is in my life. I will think it, feel it and speak it. By doing so I will send out vibes of positive energy into the world and I shall be grateful for all the wonderful things it will attract into my life. – Mindfulwishes.com

Introduction

Have you ever been caught talking to yourself and calling yourself by your first name? That might be a little embarrassing. That might make you look like you’re on drugs or hallucinating.

We all talk to ourselves on an ongoing basis, but it’s usually not out loud or so someone else can hear us.

But, is it normal to talk to yourself? Psychology states that talking to yourself is healthy. It helps you keep your mind fit to work through problems or situations. Research shows that these inner conversations are normal and healthy. It helps us organize our thoughts, our action plans, and prepare information to be stored in memory.

The psychologist Jean Piaget observed that toddlers begin to control their actions as soon as they start developing language, the action and language go hand in hand.  For example, when a toddler has been told repeatedly that a stove is hot when he approaches something hot like a heater, he will typically say “hot, hot” out loud then move away. Some people carry this behavior into adulthood and talk out loud more than others.

Silent Conversations

We all carry on silent conversations with ourselves all the time. It’s not just, “Where are my keys?” or “Where was I supposed to turn?” – we conduct deep, engaging conversations with ourselves when we work on problems or process information.

Have you ever woken up at 3 am and found yourself engaged in a dialogue in your mind about something that is going to happen or what you need to do at work later in the day? I have.

Since I read and write all day I have problems turning my mind off when it’s time to go to bed. I have to do something very mundane, such as solitaire, to turn my mind off so I can sleep. There have been times when I’ve had to get up during the night because my mind won’t be quiet and allow me to sleep. Telling your mind to be quiet just doesn’t work.

I had a guy tell me off because I wouldn’t go to bat for him with a lady friend. That night I woke up thinking about it. I reviewed the situation over and over and over then labeled it for easy retrieval at a later time, if necessary, and filed it away. Once I filed the memory away, I was able to go back to sleep. But other times I’ve had to get up and play more solitaire to shut my mind up.

 

Research At Bangor University

Research also shows that we talk to ourselves to help us as we work. In a study, people were asked to repeat “blah-blah-blah” while they were performing visual and sound tasks. The subjects had trouble completing the simple tasks required when they couldn’t talk to themselves about the task. This illustrates one way of how we control our behavior.

Another study showed that talking out loud could actually improve control over a task better than silent talk. One of the conclusions stated that simply hearing yourself audibly say the commands seemed to give the person better control over their behavior and over their ability to do the task.

Disorders

Other studies have shown that people with anxiety disorder or depression, like Sam in my post, Don’t Be Like Sam, have problems suppressing irrelevant thoughts or mental noise as it’s often called. In cases where a person has a mental disorder, their mind may wander completely out of control, similar to a dreamlike state. They will make comments that are totally inappropriate to the context of a conversation or situation.

Yet, another study on self-talk from Bangor explained why many sports professionals, such as tennis players, frequently talk to themselves during a competition encouraging themselves to stay focused and that they can do it. “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.”

In conclusion, your self-talk can control and affect your behavior. The studies also showed that a person is not always in control of what they say out loud or in their self-talk.

Controlling Self-Talk

Controlling your self-talk takes much more effort. There are times when something happens and your inner voice starts telling you negative things about yourself, others, or situations. That’s when your inner voice and your self-talk becomes a problem. Your inner voice becomes critical and talks down to you. In some cases it becomes chronic, that’s when it becomes a mental illness.

 

What Does The Bible Say About Self-Talk

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Simply put, the words we say can affect our lives in a positive or negative way.

We are made in the image of God and Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made…” God created the world with words. He spoke everything into existence. Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

God also gave our words creative power. Mark 11:23 “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” I’m not talking about “name it and claim it,” but in believing God’s Word without any doubt. I’m finding that isn’t as easily done as said.

Isaiah 53:5 “… with his wounds we are healed.” Psalm 30:2 “I cry out to the Lord and He heals me.” Proverbs 4:20-22 “I will listen closely to God’s words. I will not let them out of my sight – I will keep them within my heart; for they are life to all who find them and health for the whole body.”

 

Personal Struggle

I am still learning that what I say does have an effect on my life. When I have a problem it’s very easy to speak it, to tell others what is happening or how bad I feel.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had numerous surgeries to correct my digestive system that was damaged by too many antibiotics. When this first happened I was convinced that God was going to perform a miracle and heal my body. When it didn’t happen when or how I expected I became very depressed and negative. Yet, God did perform many miracles for me. They just weren’t what I expected. During a visit to my primary doctor, he asked if the last surgery had eliminated the pain I was experiencing. When I told him it did, he replied, “That shouldn’t have worked.” But it did. A miracle. I experienced several similar miracles.

But, I am still learning to speak God’s Word, like Proverbs 4:20-22 God’s word is health to my whole body and I need to speak it, out loud. Still learning about my self-talk.

 

Conclusion

As the research from Bangor University states, “Much of this benefit appears to come from simply hearing oneself, as auditory commands. Talking out loud, when the mind is not wandering, could actually be a sign of high cognitive function. Rather than being mentally ill, it can make you intellectually more competent.” So, how much more benefit should there be if we are speaking God’s Words.

Our words matter. Our thoughts matter. Our actions matter. Our confessions and declarations matter.

Our negative thoughts tempt us to say what we see or feel. Instead, we need to declare and confess what it is we desire, what God’s Word is telling us.

We have the power to speak things into existence. We also have the power to speak the negative into existence by our continuous negative self-talk. Instead of talking about how terrible life is, or how bad you feel, or how miserable your relationship is, why not say what you want. Mark 11:23 says that whatever you say and do not doubt in your heart, “but believes that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you.”

 Shift your focus. Shift your confession. Shift your declarations from your problem to God’s Word, to God’s promises. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” God is pleased when we have faith in Him, and when we seek Him, we are rewarded.

 

After spending approximately 20 years as a programmer analyst working in both the private sector and county government, Dena Warfield returned to college earning a Masters Degree in Psychology and in Creative Writing. Since graduation, her main focus has been on marketing – Direct Sales, Copywriting, and Writing for the Web. She co-owned and managed a direct marketing company with her husband working, primarily, with local newspapers. She managed the business office, human resources, and helped with training and marketing. She also designed their company Web Site plus writing for other web developers. Dena’s years of business, computer programming, and writing have helped to focus her copywriting skills in the marketing arena. Whether she is writing content for websites, emails, brochures, catalogs, or direct-response her goal is increased traffic and sales to your site or business. Education Dena earned her Master’s Degree in Human Behavior and a Master’s in Creative Writing from National University in San Diego, California. She has also completed a certification program from AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc., Delray Beach, FL.) with a focus in copywriting for the web. Author Dena has authored a self-help book designed to help people become aware of their negative thoughts and core beliefs that keep them from becoming successful. The techniques described in her book were used to help their sales rep to become more successful. Her book is currently on Amazon.com. She also enjoys writing Flash Fiction which can be found on her Facebook page, WarStories by Dena – Flash Fiction with a twist.

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