Why Do People Talk to Themselves?

Medically Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo, MD on June 27, 2023
3 min read

Most people talk to themselves regularly. This may happen when thinking through ideas, when debating decisions, or when in need of a pep talk. Some people feel that self-talk creates a “presence” around them that makes them feel better. This can help with loneliness. 

But in some cases, when people talk to themselves in an erratic or muttering way, it could indicate a mental health disorder. This type of talking out loud can be an early sign of schizophrenia that can worsen if untreated. 

The way we talk to ourselves can have positive or negative effects. Below you'll find more about self-talk, why talking to yourself is good for your mental health, and whether to be worried about it.

It’s more common for people to talk to themselves than to not. According to one study, 96% of adults say they have an internal dialogue. While self-talk out loud is less common, 25% of the adults say they do it. 

Many people talk to themselves in everyday situations. There’s a stigma around talking to yourself out loud in public, but doing it can help you understand the world around you. When you talk to yourself you’re intentionally taking in your surroundings. 

Inner dialogue usually sounds similar to the way you would speak to others. This kind of self-talk can occur quietly inside your head or be spoken out loud. Either way, it’s a passive activity – simply listening to your own thoughts. 

Another type of internal self-talk happens when you’re debating something with yourself – not just listening to your thoughts. Some people feel their inner dialogue come from a specific place in their body. This could be in their chest or certain parts of their head. 

When people talk to themselves, they may be working problems out in their minds and speaking them out loud. This is also known as “self-explaining.” Talking out loud helps people work through their thoughts. 

This is a healthy problem-solving tactic. There have been studies that show when people talk through what they’ve just experienced, they’re more likely to learn from it and understand it.

Self-talk refers to the way that you talk to yourself, whether positively or negatively. Positive self-talk can help you hype yourself up and feel confident before a situation. When you talk to yourself this way you’re able to motivate yourself and pay more attention to your thoughts.

The mental and social benefits of self-talk have long been debated by philosophers. Self-talk can help you make decisions more easily and motivate you to do things you may be putting off. Keeping a positive outlook and talking to yourself kindly can have great impacts on your overall mental health. 

There are some cases where talking to yourself can be a sign of a mental health condition. Muttering and speaking random sentences out loud could be a sign of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia affects many people worldwide. It’s more common in young people when they’re going through major transitions in their life. 

Schizophrenia is more common than Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. It can affect men in their mid-20s and women a bit later in life. Schizophrenia in children is rare. 

This condition doesn’t have an exact cause, but certain things make someone more prone to developing it. These could include brain chemical balance, genetic causes, and environmental issues. Drugs could also play a part. 

One of the main symptoms of schizophrenia is disordered thoughts. Your thoughts may feel blocked or jumbled. When you speak them out loud they may not have a logical order. When you talk to yourself you might make up new words, repeat single words or phrases with no context, or give new meanings to words. 

If caught early, schizophrenia can be treated and managed.