I talk to myself. A lot. On the street. In the supermarket. At the library. I get strange looks from people all the time because I’m too busy nattering to myself to notice that I’m busy nattering to myself. Even the cat thinks I’m odd. Why do I talk to myself so much? To be honest, most of the time it’s better conversation (I could go months without chatting to a living, breathing human and I’d still be content). Well, guess what? I’m not crazy (or even eccentric, the gentleman’s version of crazy): I’m a genius. It turns out that talking to yourself makes you smarter and helps your brain to work more efficiently. One study by psychologists found that saying things out loud makes completing tasks easier. Participants were given the name of an object to find in a supermarket. In the first trial, they were forbidden to speak; in the second round, they repeated the object’s name out loud while looking for it, and subsequently found it faster.
Vocalizing your interior monologue — or self-directed speech — is something we learn to do at an early age. It helps children learn how to complete tasks. “Self-directed speech can help guide children’s behavior, with kids often taking themselves step-by-step through tasks such as tying their shoelaces, as if reminding themselves to focus on the job at hand,” writes health journalist April McCarthy. And the more a child talks to herself, the smarter she is. After all, when he was a child, Einstein used to mutter to himself all the time.