Intrapersonal Communication: Communicating With Yourself

Intrapersonal communication encompasses everything you say to yourself and the thoughts you transmit to yourself throughout the day. It's related to your internal dialogue. It can be both beneficial and harmful.
Intrapersonal Communication: Communicating With Yourself
Laura Ruiz Mitjana

Written and verified by the psychologist Laura Ruiz Mitjana.

Last update: 11 February, 2023

Communication allows you to connect with others. Much is said about this kind of communication: how you relate, communicate, and listen… However, little is said about intrapersonal communication, a type of communication directed at yourself.

Indeed, intrapersonal communication is the speech you direct to yourself, irrespective of whether you say it out loud. Your so-called internal or inner dialogue has a large number of functions, which we’ll explain in this article. Among them are self-reflection or introspection, two fundamental psychological processes for getting to know yourself.

“The greatest wisdom is to get to know oneself.”

-Galileo Galilei-

Woman with eyes closed

Intrapersonal communication

Intrapersonal communication is the kind with which you engage with yourself. Therefore, you’re both the sender and receiver of the message.

It usually encompasses the kinds of analyses you do in private, in relation to both yourself and other matters. As a rule, it refers to internal dialogue and includes everything you listen to, read, or repeat to yourself.

Characteristics of intrapersonal communication

To better understand interpersonal communication, here are its main characteristics:

  • It’s one-sided. It’s communication that you develop with yourself. In effect, you’re both the carrier and receiver of the message.
  • It’s inevitable and spontaneous. It arises without any planning, manifests independently, and is often not particularly easy to manage. For example, ruminative thoughts are an example of intrapersonal communication that can escape your control if you don’t know how to deal with them effectively.
  • It serves as a filter. Intrapersonal communication can help you behave in a socially accepted way. Thanks to it, you can self-censor certain gestures, comments, or behaviors that’d be frowned upon by others.
  • It’s not necessarily literal. Many times, you must interpret or reflect on the messages you give yourself.
  • It doesn’t only employ the first person. While the first person is most common in intrapersonal communication, you might also use the third person. You do this when you talk to yourself as if you were another person. For example, when you call yourself by your own name to tell yourself something like: “John, you’ve made a mistake”.

The purpose of intrapersonal communication

Positive intrapersonal communication allows you to connect with yourself and get to know the deepest layers of your being. In other words, it’s a form of communication that allows you to reflect on your emotional states, listen to yourself, give yourself encouragement, and be a comfort to yourself in painful moments. It also helps you analyze yourself.

Now, we’re going to talk about the main functions of positive intrapersonal communication.

It allows you to self-reflect

Intrapersonal communication allows you to reflect on your environment and on yourself. It’s a  conversation you have with yourself that can lead you to explore areas of your life that may not be going so well or identify personal aspects of which you may not have been fully aware.

For example, a form of self-reflection would be to ask yourself why you’ve been feeling uncomfortable at work or in your relationship. In this case, it’s likely that your hectic daily routine isn’t allowing you to delve into your feelings until they really start to make you suffer.

Intrapersonal communication is when you stop to reflect on the causes of your emotions and look for answers in yourself.

It connects you with your essence

In a world where you spend a great deal of energy and time on other people and other things, finding a moment to talk to yourself can help you reconnect with your own essence.

These moments are ideal for identifying what really defines you. It forms the basis of your personal growth.

With intrapersonal communication, you connect with your emotional world, memories, and experiences. In a sense, it involves getting closer to them and ‘turning off’ the noise of the outside world.

It promotes self-listening

Listening to yourself implies blocking out the outside and paying attention to what lies within yourself.

In other words, intrapersonal communication involves inward thinking. In effect, it’s from the inside that you speak to yourself. Remember that this type of communication not only includes the emission and reception of a message orally (speaking) but also through your thoughts (thinking).

It allows introspection

Linked to all of the above, introspection is another of the functions or possibilities that intrapersonal communication allows. Introspection is defined as the observation that you make of your own consciousness or your state of mind, in order to reflect on them.

This is related to other elements already mentioned. For instance, listening, self-reflection, and even self-care. In fact, in psychology, introspection is a key element that allows people to stop and focus on themselves. It helps you resolve conflict, and understand and integrate your experiences.

Examples of intrapersonal communication

There are different ways to exercise this type of communication. Here are the most important kinds:

Speaking out loud

This is what’s known as ‘talking to yourself’. It also includes the act of reading something aloud to yourself.

It can be a useful practice to help you calm down, pay attention to something in particular, organize your ideas, and encourage concentration. As a matter of fact, you often unconsciously talk to yourself out loud.

Negative thoughts

Negative thoughts are ideas that appear, often intrusively, in your mind. They generate anguish and can really affect your state of mind and other aspects such as your self-esteem.

Negative thoughts are included in dysfunctional or negative intrapersonal communication. You can combat this way of directing yourself through your thoughts with therapy.

Stressed girl thinking about why every day I have less patience?

Between body parts

This is a more specific kind of communication and isn’t so psychological. It involves one of your organs sending a message to your central nervous system.

For example, imagine the sensations of cold or heat, tickling, or burning. This is also intrapersonal communication but at a different level.

Final thoughts

Do you talk to yourself? Do you use this type of communication throughout the day? If so, for what purpose? Taking care of your internal language and everything you say to yourself is essential to enjoy good mental health.

Talking to yourself is a learned behavior. For this reason, it’s important to review your internal dialogue and ensure that it’s adaptive, useful, and a good friend to you. If you feel that your internal speech causes you any discomfort, listen to yourself and ask for professional help if you feel you need it.

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The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.