Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have an internal running monologue going on in our heads many times throughout our day – everyone does! This inner voice consists of the silent conversations, random thoughts, worries and ideas that we engage in with ourselves – we also call it our inner speech, internal dialogue, self-talk, and so on. For some people, our minds are constantly racing, and for others it may be more controlled. Each individual is different when it comes to our inner voice, but what’s more important is that it’s an essential part of shaping the silent relationship we have with ourselves, as well as influencing many other aspects of our lives, which is why it’s the blog topic theme I chose for this month – there’s so much to explore!
Tuning out the noise
The research on this topic is limited (likely due to the level of difficulty in scientifically studying something so complex), but one thing that has been analyzed is that verbalizing our thoughts is very slow compared to our inner thoughts. Psychologist Rodney Korba’s research indicates that our internal dialogue has an equivalent rate of speech in excess of 4,000 words per minute, which is 10 times that of verbal speech. So, when we say our ‘mind is racing’, it actually is!
It’s also widely recognized just how important our inner voice is in influencing our moods, behaviours and emotions. It’s so much more multifaceted than just calling it ‘thinking’, and it’s also more than simply ‘speaking’. Imagine playing a game of cards with someone. Obviously, we wouldn’t talk aloud while planning our next move, but we are definitely having internal dialogues not only on our strategy, but perhaps also on our feelings about the game, our opponent, and any other number of thoughts such as “I wonder if there’s more of that cheese left” and “I can’t forget to call the fridge repair guy”. All of this is going on while chatting and playing the game; talk about multi-tasking! Our brains are incredibly complex, and they never really turn off, even when we sleep.
Tuning in to our own voice
Sometimes our inner voice is just noise, but it’s also an opportunity for us to be more methodical in our thinking so that we can form better ideas and make better decisions. Our inner voice is an inherent characteristic of human beings – helping us formulate, ponder, plan, persuade, assess and critique. We can learn to better control our inner voice so that we can work towards more positive self-talk, and in turn, more positive outcomes!
Our inner voice is closely tied to our emotional state, yet most of us underestimate the power it has to regulate and motivate us. Within our self-talk, there is definitely positive but also negative content that can be deflating and even self-degrading (like those times when we say to ourselves “I can’t believe I just said that!”). We need to make sure our self-talk is working for us and not against us. When we spend time worrying, for example, we are wasting time with negative thinking that focuses on problems with no obvious or easy solution, instead of spending our energy on reaching goals and getting results. By learning and practicing meditation for example, and having other similar tools to utilize, we can have more control over those negative, intrusive thoughts and get back on track with living productive, happy and meaningful lives.
“Loving or hating the life you are living is solely all in your repeated self-talk.” ― Edmond Mbiaka