Can You Develop an Internal Monologue? | Iris Reading
Can You Develop an Internal Monologue

Can You Develop an Internal Monologue?

Can You Develop an Internal Monologue

The human mind is powerful and constantly seeking to express itself. Sometimes, in the form of an internal monologue. 

Internal monologue is also sometimes known as inner speech, inner monologue, inner voice, inner monologue, private speech, intrapersonal communication, or internal dialogue or discourse. 

While inner speech is thought to develop during childhood, through patience and deliberate effort, you can begin to develop inner speech as an adult. You can nurture your inner monologue by slowing down, practicing active listening, journaling, and increasing your curiosity.

A positively-cultivated internal monologue helps to improve problem-solving, self-reflection, emotion regulation, self-motivation, critical thinking skills, and much more. 

In this article, we’ll examine what an inner monologue is, how to know if you have one, if everyone has it, the age most people develop theirs, if adults can develop it, and how to develop an internal monologue. 

What is an inner monologue?

An internal monologue is having a silent conversation with your own voice inside your head. It is an inaudible conversation you have as you would if you were talking to a friend. Your inner speech comes complete with tone and inflection depicting emotions of everyday audible conversations. 

When faced with a challenge, solving it may come in the form of an inner monologue. When preparing for a presentation, rehearsing what you’ll say in your head is another example of having an internal monologue. 

Psychologists and neuroscientists are yet to fully grasp the subject of the inner voice. But we know that it occurs through a brain signal that scientists refer to as corollary discharge. Everyone experiences corollary discharge but not everyone experiences inner monologue.

This brain signal allows your body to tell the difference between stimuli from within and without. Additionally, it helps you to process hearing speech. Corollary discharge helps explain why your own voice sounds different when recorded than when you speak aloud to a friend. 

Per a recent study, inner speech comes in three dimensions. These are condensation, diagonality, and intentionality. 

1. Inner speech condensation 

This dimension refers to how expressive your inner voice is. Some may express themselves with complete sentences. Others may only use single words or even exclamatory words like “aargh!” 

2. Inner speech diagonality 

This speaks of your ability to reference other people’s voices in your inner speeches. Imagining the kind of back-and-forth conversation you may have with your date is an example of internal communication in multiple voices. 

3. Inner speech intentionality

This dimension refers to whether you can use your inner speech at will or not. Did the talking randomly pop into your head? Or did you actively use this phenomenon to prepare for a presentation?

How do you know if you have an inner monologue?

You have an inner monologue if you can’t stop audible thoughts running through your mind, even if you tried. Other ways of knowing include when you have a persistent commentary stuck in your head or love rehearsing conversations before they happen. 

Numerous examples may suggest you have an inner voice. If you do any of these examples, you have an inner speech. 

1. Talking to yourself

This example is common with most people. Self talk can be as simple as reminding yourself of a task: “Don’t forget to send the email.” 

In the same breath, you could also reprimand yourself for not completing the task: “How could you forget, aargh!” 

2. Rehearsing conversations

If you have full-blown conversations with others in your head, you have an inner monologue. 

This is a dimension of your inner voice known as diagonality. It involves having conversations in multiple voices – yours and others. 

3. Preparing for speeches and presentations

Practicing how you envision a presentation will go without verbalizing it is a sign you have an internal monologue. Most times, you can also visualize the audience. 

4. Songs can’t leave your head

About 98% of people experience this psychological phenomenon. You’ll hear songs from nowhere, and you’re humming the songs stuck in your head for several weeks. 

Scientists suggest our minds make associations between songs and our emotions. When we experience certain emotions, the songs tied to those emotions come into our consciousness. 

Singing those songs in your own voice without verbalizing it shows you have an inner monologue. 

Does everyone have an inner monologue?

Not all people have an inner monologue, but more than half of humans do experience talking to themselves in their own head.

One study found that between 30% and 50% of humans frequently experience an internal monologue. Another study, however, says only 75% have an inner monologue. So, not everyone has it. 

According to psychology professor Russell Hurlburt, while many people may experience inner speech, only a few people experience it almost 100% of the time. Russell Hurlburt works at the University of Nevada, Texas, and is considered one of the leading thought leaders on inner monologue. 

On the other hand, Bernard Baars believes that humans talk to themselves 100% of their waking hours. Mr. Baars also noted that some humans even experience this phenomenon during deep sleep. Hurlburt reckons that Baars is “entirely mistaken.” Bernard Baars is an expert in consciousness science. 

The split in how experts differ on the prevalence and frequency of inner self talk is predicated on how difficult it is to examine people’s minds and our individual differences. 

As a result, researchers study inner speech in different ways and there have been different conclusions on the subject. 

People without an inner speech

People without an inner monologue may be suffering from what is called aphantasia. Aphantasia is a condition in which a person cannot envision visual imagery. 

Someone suffering from this condition cannot mentally picture their friend’s face or the inside of their house. Researchers suspect that as many as 2-5% of the world suffers from aphantasia

There seems to be a correlation between aphantasia and people without or with a weak inner voice. People with aphantasia do not experience clear inner self talk. This condition is now referred to as anaduralia.

At what age does internal monologue develop?

Data suggests humans develop internal monologues early. Research indicates that a child aged 5-7 years can use their inner voice to digest their thoughts and emotions. Other studies note that from 18-21 months, some children begin to use their internal monologue to understand language and phonetics. 

The brain has two language tracts. They are the dorsal and ventral streams. The brain also uses these streams for audio and visual processing. In children, the dorsal stream lags behind the ventral steam’s development. 

As the dorsal language stream develops, children acquire language skills, and their childhood inner voices begin to develop. Suffice it to say that internal dialogue grows with you as you age. 

Can people who don’t have an inner monologue develop one?

People without an inner monologue can develop it by learning to slow down, practicing active listening, journaling daily, embracing silence, and becoming more curious. 

The brain is capable of functional changes. This process is called neuroplasticity or brain plasticity. 

Scientists define neuroplasticity as the ability of the body’s central nervous system to make structural changes in response to internal and other external stimuli. 

You can capitalize on the brain’s power for change to experience internal monologue through the practices shared below. You can also make your inner speech more positive rather than endure negative self-talk. 

How can you develop your inner monologue?

Developing your inner voice can be difficult to get started. It requires time and patience. You have to stay committed and consistent until you can use your own inner voice at will.

Some practices you can use to develop an inner monologue include taking responsibility for your growth, becoming an active listener, and capturing your thoughts regularly. Other methods include cutting out distractions, embracing quiet times, and becoming more curious. 

All these practices will help you think better, simulate possibilities for different events and how you should act or react, and revamp your decision-making. These are all critical issues our internal dialogue seeks to help us achieve. 

1. Take responsibility for developing your inner speech

The first step to change is taking responsibility. So, what does taking responsibility look like? Taking responsibility means creating a plan and committing to it.  

For example, you can commit to journaling for 30-45 minutes daily. Another plan would be to reduce your social media consumption by five minutes daily for one month. 

Taking responsibility and being disciplined ties all the practices below together. It is also the only way you can guarantee success.

2. Slow down to activate your inner voice

Almost everywhere you look, everyone is rushing to get things done. Rushing to work. Rushing to have lunch. Rushing to make school runs. Rushing to complete everyday tasks. Rush, rush! 

In a world where everyone is rushing, slowing down has many mental health benefits. For starters, slowing down allows you to become more present. 

Slowing down gives room for reflection before your next actions. That extra time or seconds you take before making a decision or saying something can make a difference to the result. 

In the context of developing your inner speech, these are some of the things you can do:

  • Set periodic alarms on your phone to take a few minutes to pause and take deep breaths. You can use the time to compliment your efforts so far too. 
  • Take out time to plan how you want your day to go. Identify potential stressors for each day, and picture how you’ll deal with them. When you make daily plans, you’ll be more productive and accomplish more important tasks. 

3. Journaling to find your inner voice

Journaling is an incredible way to draw from the wells of your mind. While you can journal based on a prompt or topic, we recommend using stream-of-consciousness writing. Stream-of-consciousness journaling allows your mind to unburden itself to you unfettered. 

Inner dialogues and stream-of-consciousness writing are similar except for a few differences. The content of your inner speech is typically coherent, logical, and linear. 

Stream-of-consciousness writing is more scattergun and long-winded with different thoughts interwoven together. 

The goal is to write long enough for your inner voice to reveal itself. The more you journal, you’ll begin to identify patterns in how your mind works. You can have a target of 30 minutes or a set number of pages per day. 

4. Curiosity

A curious mind is an engaged mind and brain. Instead of taking things at face value, you dig deeper for understanding and clarity. You ask questions on even seemingly fleeting moments or feelings. 

Why am I feeling this way? Why am I nervous about this coming presentation? Why did I buy a certain product over others? Be curious about the people and things that are important to you. 

The more you practice understanding the why behind your actions, the more you learn about your decision-making framework and the emotions behind them. 

Over time, you’re more logic-driven than emotion-driven. You’ll begin to enjoy enhanced problem-solving as we “typically use our inner monologue to solve problems.” 

5. Active listening

Active listening is a difficult skill to master. If you’re not adding context from your point of view, you’re judging the speaker. The goal is not only to actively listen to others but to yourself, too. 

Active listening also extends to books. Your objective should be to read the book quickly and comprehend it, as our reading course shows. 

As you learn to process hearing speech better, you begin to drown the critical inner voices that crowd out your positive inner speech. Asking clarifying questions rather than making assumptions is one of the ways to be an active listener. 

6. Cutting distractions and embracing the quiet times

If you’re yet to develop your inner speech, distractions can stall your progress. From social media to on-demand entertainment, the list is endless. 

You have to find time to work on your internal speech. You can reduce the time spent on social media and streaming apps and devote it to more productive tasks. Our personal productivity course teaches you how to maximize your time and limit distractions. 

In the same vein, don’t be in a hurry to fill up your spare time. Being in silence is not a bad thing. You’re trying to create a strong connection with your conscious and subconscious selves. 

Cutting distractions and embracing the quiet helps you to create the right mental health environment for your inner speech to blossom. It is equally good for your mental health. 

Takeaway: With practice and determination, you can develop an inner monologue

There’s consensus that not everyone has an inner dialogue. But the good news is that you can develop an internal monologue if you don’t have one. 

You can develop an internal monologue by taking responsibility for your actions, slowing down from time to time, journaling, actively listening, and being curious. By devoting time to these activities, your inner monologue will rise to the fore. 

Iris Reading’s Maximizing Memory course can help you remember and memorize key information. Remembering information is an important part of becoming an active listener. Learn from the experts today.

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