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talking a positive game

SHOW me a man who claims not to have the occasional chinwag with himself and I'll show you a liar.

No matter how you feel about you, you're stuck with you. So why not make the most of it? There's no harm in a bit of private chit chat.

According to a recent psychology article, a good idea is to talk to yourself out loud. Now, convention would contest this but the evidence says otherwise.

Rather than being carted horizontally to the funny farm by kindly but firm gentlemen in uniform, talking to yourself out loud is a way to stay sane. It's also, if you can believe such a thing, a way to make you smarter. The logic is thus: talking out loud helps you clarify your thoughts, work out what's important and solidify any decisions you're trying to make. I guess another bonus is not having to justify yourself to anyone but you. Personally, I agree with anything I say. It makes life simple.

There are four types of self chat to aim for.

a) Complimentary. The theory goes that no one else sees all the little day-to-day good deeds you do. Passed on dessert? Shout "I'm proud of you!" Finished your To Do list? Holler "Good job!". I suspect the author of the report is American. The reaction to a "Goan yerself!" on leaving the Rogano after your mains might negate any positive feelings you've created.

b) Motivational. The psychologists say the brain-boosting powers of solo chatter only work if you're nice to yourself. That's daft. A suggestion is "Hey, sweetie-pie. You've got time this morning to tidy up; how about it?" I'm the world's most successful and practised procrastinator. That sentence alone was halted by a cup of tea, a text message and a quick scan of Facebook. So my out-loud chatter normally consists of the Nike slogan: "Just do it" but with an energising expletive slotted in between the "just" and the "do". Give it a try.

c) Outer dialogue. Choices aren't easy, that much is true. Suggested is running through your options out loud. This is not recommended in the cereal aisle or in Top Shop.

d) Goal-setting. Repeating your goals out loud "controls your runaway emotions". Try it with your New Year's resolutions. See what happens. No, really, see what happens. Please let me know.

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