Researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan teamed up to conduct a study on the impact of talking out loud to yourself. In this study, which was published in Scientific Reports, found that this practice is actually a beneficial activity that helps your mental well-being and can have a calming effect.
However, in order to have a calming effect, you must say things to yourself with a purpose, and not just to hear your own voice. It’s also important to refer to yourself in the third person.
“Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the brain,” said Jason Moser of Michigan State University. “That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can be useful for regulating emotions.”
According to this study, talking in the third person allows us to remove ourselves from the first-person mindset, which in turn enables us to be more analytical about our emotions and situation. Essentially, talking in the third person helps us put an “outsider” perspective on our feelings, which can help decrease stress.
“What’s really exciting here is that the brain from these two complementary experiments suggest that third-person self-talk may constitute a relatively effortless form of emotion regulation,” said Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan. “If this ends up being true – we won’t know until more research is done – there are lots of important implications these findings have for our basic understanding of how self-control works and for how to help people control their emotions in daily life.”