Why Saying Is Believing — The Science Of Self-Talk : Shots – Health News : NPR

From the self-affirmations of Stuart Smalley on SaturdayNight Live to countless videos on YouTube, saying nice things to your reflection in the mirror is a self-help trope that’s been around for decades, and seems most often aimed at women. The practice, we’re told, can help us like ourselves and our bodies more, and even make us more successful — allow us to chase our dreams!

Impressed, but skeptical, I took this self-talk idea to one of the country’s leading researchers on body image to see if it’s actually part of clinical practice.

Psychologists in 1911 noticed that when Victorian women who habitually wore huge, feathered hats walked through doors, they ducked — even when not wearing the hat.

So far, evidence that the words you say to yourself could change the way you see yourself is still limited to the self-reports of patients; and the effect on brain physiology hasn’t yet been studied. But Coslett thinks self-talk probably does shape the physiology of perception, given that other sensory perceptions — the intensity of pain, for example, or whether a certain taste is pleasing or foul, or even what we see — can be strongly influenced by opinions, assumptions, cultural biases and blind spots.

So, maybe self-talk is more than a confidence booster. From a neuroscience perspective, it might be more like internal remodeling.

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