Do you ever have lengthy conversations with yourself, or make up voices in your head, each with a different personality? Although this is not the same as hearing voices, you may wonder, “Why do I talk to myself in my head all the time?” Well, here we might be able to provide you with some of the answers.
Talking to Myself in My Head: Other People's Experiences
“Sometimes I talk to myself out loud, although I try to avoid doing this around other people to prevent them staring at me. When I have appointments, I'll speak to myself either aloud or in my head about what I’m doing. I’m sure I don't have schizophrenia, but it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one talking to myself in my head.” --- Jane
“I talk to myself in my head all the time. Although I'm well right now, I can always have an internal dialogue going the next minute. Occasionally, I’ll say the words in my head out loud or quietly murmuring rubbish. I get very anxious over whether I actually said something or if it’s just in my brain, as often I’m not sure. This makes me believe that other people will be listening to my thoughts if I’m not careful. It’s almost as if two people are talking to each other – one in each ear.” --- Lev
“Everyone speaks about so-called 'self-talk' and how this can have a positive or negative impact, so normal people must also talk to themselves in some way. When I was young, I went to see a psychiatrist. I put forward the idea of replacing nasty childhood memories with more pleasant experiences to move on. My therapist agreed, so I started to go for hiking and fishing trips, and taking holidays whenever we could afford it.” --- Anonymous
So, Is It Really a Problem?
Talking to yourself does not necessarily indicate a mental illness. Indeed, self-talk can be perfectly normal, and help you to acknowledge your own feelings. However, sometimes, self-talk, particularly if it is incessant or very negative in nature, can indicate certain medical illnesses. For example, patients with depression may find that they talk to themselves more often during a depressive episode. You need to aware of your thoughts and look for other signs that you may have a psychological condition.
Depression and Anxiety
Patients who are depressed or anxious can experience constant mind-talk, which is usually harsh, judgmental or frightening in nature. Depression and anxiety often co-exist, although they are classified as two separate ailments. Anxiety usually manifests itself with physical symptoms – tightness in the chest, a pounding heart and trouble breathing, together with a constant agitated feeling. Conversely, depression is associated with feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and discouragement.
Patients with schizophrenia may not appear ill, but they can experience profound changes in their mental state, which often correspond with notable behavioral changes. The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia include:
Withdrawal from social events.
A feeling of being in a hazy, dream-like state. This is known as depersonalization, and is sometimes accompanied by deep anxiety.
Neglecting personal hygiene.
Disorganized speaking patterns.
Delusions or hallucinations (seeing and hearing imaginary events).
The sensation of being controlled by outside forces.
Tips to Stop Talking to Yourself
Constant talking in your head can be very distressing whatever causes it may be involved, but luckily there are measures you can take to lessen your symptoms.
Don’t try to stop the thoughts. Forcing yourself to stop talking to yourself will usually only make the condition worse. If you acknowledge your self-talk and accept it, you will be better positioned to deal with it.
Don’t believe all your thoughts are true. Remember that thoughts are just thoughts, and they are not necessarily correct. It’s easy to get caught up in your thoughts, forgetting that they are just transient feelings that are subject to constant change.
Stop judging yourself. It’s easy to believe that there is something wrong with you and feel guilty about your own thoughts. However, again, they are just thoughts that happen to pass through your brain; don’t judge yourself because of them.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Self-awareness stems from observing rather than merely experiencing your thoughts. This way, you can evaluate your mental processes and have greater control over your own mind.
Become aware of your internal state. In addition to developing consciousness of your thoughts, you also need to notice your physical feelings in your body. This will allow a greater connection between your mental and physical states.
Practice meditation. If, occasionally, you stop what you are doing and concentrate on how you feel right now, you can achieve tremendous peace of mind. Allow brain chatter at first, but slowly practice focusing and relaxing.
Ask yourself for advice. Ask yourself direct questions, writing them down or speaking aloud. When you’ve put your feelings out there this way, it can help you develop the answers from within your own mind.
Turn to other things. If possible, turn to other things that can make you feel relaxed and happy, such as listening to music, watching a comic, taking a bath or just talking with friends or family.
When to See a Doctor
You need to make an appointment with a healthcare professional if you think there may something wrong with your mental state, especially if your self-talk is distressing you and affecting your everyday life. If it’s someone you know with this problem, get them to speak to a doctor, even if they’re afraid.