Voices in your head? It’s normal!

I have a challenge for you: I would like you to read this article silently, not aloud. Seems easy, right? Sure, it is to read it in a manner in which nobody else can hear you, but you can hear you. Most people when reading to themselves create a voice in their mind that speaks to them, and not just any voice, but their voice.

So now I ask you again, can you read this sentence silently, without even speaking to yourself? In theory, you’re talking to yourself, but you’re saying everything I want you to say — you’re telling yourself: “today I’m going to brush my teeth with shaving cream.” That’s gross, why would you do that? “This is stupid, I don’t have to talk to myself, I’m perfectly capable of reading this without some crazy voice in my head reading it to me… see!” Hmmm I’m not so sure I believe it, but then I’m you, so that means you doubt yourself.

So does reading actually use the same parts of the brain as speaking? Without getting into too much technical mumbo jumbo about frontal lobes and cortices and what not: YES, through MRI scanning there is proof that the areas of the brain that are activated during speech are also active during the process of reading even if there is no actual speaking involved.

There is a little voice in your head that reads to you all the words printed on the paper, or screen; “but” you say: “surely this voice does not only communicate with me when I’m reading?” And you’re on the right track, there are times, and most likely a lot of them, when you are simply by yourself, and this same little voice chimes in with any little thing that comes to mind. “Today I’m going to get those new shoes…no they’re too expensive…but I’ve been working hard and should reward myself… but if you save some more you can go on holiday…I’m getting the shoes…no! don’t…I am, it’s too late, they’re on my feet….” It’s a classic example of the little angel and devil that sit on each of our shoulders.

Most of us talk to ourselves silently, and depending on what we say it can either benefit or discourage us. In certain situations it may be that what you tell yourself actually decides the outcome: “I need to give a speech at my brother’s wedding, I can do it!”; “Today I need to get out of bed and achieve something… but not now I’m really comfortable”; “I have to tell my girlfriend that pink does NOT look good on me, but I’m afraid she might yell at me…”

There is also proof that speaking to yourself in the language you are trying to learn will significantly help you pick it up faster. If that’s not motivation to start talking to yourself more I don’t know what is!

How often do you talk to yourself? What does the voice inside your head say to you?

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