We all have an ongoing inner dialogue with ourselves, but a new study suggests what you might want to start saying to yourself when trying to learn a new skill.
While the more positive among us may have motivational mantras ("You can do it!") running through our heads when trying to accomplish a goal, even better is what is dubbed "instructional self-talk," especially when learning something new.
American magazine Time reports that instructional self-talk can enhance our attention, helps us regulate our effort and make decisions about what to do and how to do it, and third, "allows us to control our cognitive and emotional reactions, steadying us so we stay on task."
A new study published this week in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology finds that "self-talk" works best when you think about the goal for yourself and then make a mental plan for how to get there.
In the study, Athanasios Kolovelonis and his team at the University of Thessaly in Greece looked at students learning to throw darts in a gym class. The top performers first developed a mental plan, then attempted to enact the plan when throwing darts. Afterward, they self-reflected on their performances, evaluating what happened and making adjustments in the plan for the next attempt.
While self-talking aloud may seem a bit crazy, it can also have benefits. A recent study in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that talking to yourself as you search for something could actually help you find the missing item faster.