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What the voice inside your head says about you

The role of inner speech

Inner speech plays an important role in self-regulation behavior, problem-solving, critical thinking, and future thinking.

There's also growing evidence that inner speech is useful for self-reflection. Learning to tune in to your thoughts is a way to communicate with yourself using a meaningful structure.

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What the voice inside your head says about you

What the voice inside your head says about you

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190819-what-your-inner-voice-says-about-you

bbc.com

6

Key Ideas

The thoughts in your mind

We are so intimate with our thoughts that we never really stop to pay close attention to our wandering minds. When we do look at our thoughts, they turn out to be more interesting than we imagined.

A 2013 review points to huge individual differences between people in how much time they spend talking to themselves in their heads. Some people continually speak to themselves, while other people never talk to themselves internally.

Inner experiences

There are five categories of inner experiences:

  • Inner speaking, which comes in many forms
  • Inner seeing, which comes from things you've seen in real life or imaginary visuals
  • Feeling, such as happiness or anger
  • Sensory awareness, like being aware of the feeling of a carpet
  • Unsymbolized thinking, which is a thought that doesn't manifest as words or images.

Different inner voices

Most of us are aware of the internal dialogue – rather than a monologue - where we talk to someone inside our head. Often, that other voice is another aspect of ourselves.


There are four kinds of inner voices: the faithful friend, the ambivalent parent, the proud rival, and the helpless child. We might adopt these different roles to help ourselves get through situations.

Our thoughts may be wrong

Not everyone is convinced that people think accurately. Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel argues that people are prone to considerable introspective error under any condition.

Further studies revealed that what people say they are thinking about does match up with what is really going on.

Motivation for inner speech

Our motivations for inner speech are many and varied.

Students in a study were found talking to themselves about everything from school to their emotions, other people, and themselves while they were doing everyday tasks.

The role of inner speech

Inner speech plays an important role in self-regulation behavior, problem-solving, critical thinking, and future thinking.

There's also growing evidence that inner speech is useful for self-reflection. Learning to tune in to your thoughts is a way to communicate with yourself using a meaningful structure.

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