Thinking aloud is not always a sign of insanity, but it improves our mental ability. Private speech makes us more focused, targeting “here and now”. This is a type of behavior that is worth practicing everyday as a mechanism for self-regulation.
Whoever has worked with children between 5 and 7 years old may notice that children always think aloud. They do it while playing, while interacting with objects, while alone or even when with other people. It is different from the stage of immaturity, or the stage where having invisible friends are common, which may be worrisome. It plays an important role in the child’s development.
Thinking aloud is a way of guiding your own behavior. Moreover, the development of thought and language becomes even, making egocentric speech favorable and recommended. However, as we reach a certain age, adults tell us to stop doing it since it is not socially acceptable, and that we must learn to suppress the childish voice that once played free, making us accustomed to its own sound.
Therefore, when we reach maturity, we become silent thinkers and readers. We do everything quietly (reasoning, working, reading, etc). We do this without realizing the benefits of having a conversation with the most important person in the world: ourselves.
Thinking aloud: private speech
Thinking out loud was, is a decisive step in a certain childhood stage. Now, whether we believe it or not, we still need to do it, even in adulthood. It is a personal and cognitive development tool that we can use on certain occasions. However, it is not about speaking out loud all the time as if our brain has a speaker installed.
What we should practice in a timely manner at a certain time of the day is what is known as “private speech. This is a support mechanism that gives us “feedback” to correct, to guide and to help us focus. Thinking aloud implies doing it with respect. We are saying this because some people think out loud to throw accusations against others, and to highlight blunders or mistakes.
In a recent study conducted by the University of Wisconsin published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, thinking aloud may benefit our neurological health. Stress is much better controlled. In addition, the lower left frontal gyrus associated with problem solving, planning and mental focus shows very intense activity.
Different ways of thinking aloud
Thinking aloud or reasoning for ourselves when we are alone is not characteristic of madness or mental illness. It is a self-directed dialogue that we can use at a certain time of the day as a self-regulation exercise. Also, this healthy tool may have different purposes or modalities. Let’s talk about this:
Think about different options
We constantly make choices everyday. Thinking aloud is a way to facilitate reflection, analysis and analyze information. It helps us clarify ideas, set objectives and analyze our emotions.
Athletes motivate themselves by thinking aloud with words of encouragement and achievement. Also, when the time comes, it is not enough to tell ourselves, “Let’s see. Why do you feel this way?” You have worked so hard to get here you must go on.
Encourage a more positive dialogue
The negative dialogue that tells us “you can’t do it, you will fail, don’t even dare, or leave it for tomorrow” is undoubtedly the most harmful in our daily life. Therefore, we should practice private speech to stop whatever it is that destroys our self-esteem and our hopes.
Thinking aloud clarifies ideas and directs our thoughts in a proper perspective: towards what is useful and constructive. With this self-regulation, we help ourselves become more focused and more decisive.
To conclude, thinking out loud at certain times of the day is a good mental health practice. It is an effective tool that enhances many cognitive processes and takes our brain to another level. If we feel something at a certain point in time, thinking aloud may help us carry it our without any fear or hesitation.