February 23

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Ask Yourself Out Loud To Clarify What You Want

By Alison

February 23, 2021


Ask yourself out loud helps you clarify what you really want because there is someone else in the conversation who can:

  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Probe deeper
  • Encourage you to explore context more fully

There may be reasons why you don’t ask for help and others don’t offer.  Fear, pride, overwhelm, confusion or the mistaken belief that you need to do everything yourself.  But staying quiet has a negative impact on your confidence.

Sometimes it's hard, and I mean really hard, to figure out what you really want.  Often we have a general idea, but it's hard to articulate. 

But talking to someone else isn't the only way.  You can have a conversation out loud with yourself.  Try it; you will be surprised at the level of clarity you can achieve.

And before you concern yourself about the thought that talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, remember this.  Aristotle once said, 'no great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.'  

The most effective way to ask for help and gain support is to know what you want.

toddler tantrum with mum looking sad

a toddler can't articulate clearly what they want so throw a tantrum

Ask A Toddler

Have you ever witnessed a two-and-a-half-year-old child have a meltdown for what seems like no reason at all?   To watch, it is painful.

Parents of toddlers know that the child often doesn't really know what they want. Their little one can't yet articulate their desires clearly enough to avoid the emotional meltdown.

The best way to help a toddler through the cognitive process of asking for help is to get them talking out loud. The process of talking out loud helps them identify the pieces of the puzzle in their mind. 

When they talk out loud, the toddler can start to put those pieces together.

Then before you know it, the source of the angst is discovered.  She wants her dolly to eat a bowl of pretend mashed potatoes while she rides the unicorn.  Simple!

Talking Out Loud As Adults - A Warning

As adults, we are still prone to throwing the odd tantrum.  The only problem is, the behaviour is often frowned upon, and you find people making judgements. 

In the workplace, it's better to master your emotions rather than have explosions of frustration.  The impact on those around you is not healthy and could be detrimental to your career advancement.

Thinking In Loops

We sometimes need to process out loud to figure things out. Our mind can work in loops. We go over and over the things that weigh on us, and sometimes the only way to break the loop is to speak out loud with someone else who can help us process those thoughts.

Asking out loud helps you figure out what you want because there is someone else in the conversation to ask clarifying questions. These questions require you to sort through the issue and get very clear on what you need in the way of help.

woman looking in mirror ask yourself out loud in front of a mirror

Feel you want someone to talk to - look in the mirror

Go Mad, Ask Out Loud To Yourself

Having someone to process with you isn't the only way to verbally sort through and identify what you really want. You can have a conversation with yourself when no one else is available.

Talking out loud allows you to articulate the issue you are having and to think about resolutions to the problem.

How often have you suffered in silence because you've been too nervous about speaking up?

Often the lack of confidence to address the issue is due to not being able to articulate what you need in a way that is easily understood so you get the response you need.

Like the toddler, you feel unhappy about something but can't find the right words to express it constructively.

Issues Can Eat Away At Your Insides

The trouble is, if you don't address the issue early on, the problem can soon become a big deal.  Issues become like worms inside you, they can eat away at your very core and start to have an impact on everything you try to do.

Don't let things get under your skin.  You will feel so much better in the long run if you address issues as they come up.

 When you talk out loud to yourself, you confront the issue head-on.  Another advantage is you can act as a devil's advocate to rationalise what you are thinking. 

Ask For Help Out Loud When Overwhelmed

Perhaps you struggle with your workload because your manager has handed a new project over to you.  A project you can’t refuse.

You know that you need additional support, but don’t feel comfortable asking for help.  And going back to your manager to say I need help will only prompt them to ask – what help do you need?  If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, this is not an easy question to answer.  And, if you’re not prepared to answer the question with specifics, help will not be forthcoming.

Asking out loud helps you clarify

  • Your current situation
  • The impact of the additional work
  • Additional support needed

When you ask for help, be clear as to the type of help you want.  Is it:

  • A resource
  • more time to complete other projects
  • authority to rejiggle your workload

Unless you are clear about the desired outcome, you could end up more frustrated or overwhelmed that you were before!

woman on phone with a mirror image

talking out loud helps you clarify what you want to say

Issues Are Clearer When You Ask Out Loud

Issues are clearer when you ask out loud because the more you hear your own voice, the better you can identify with what is being said. Things always sound clearer when spoken aloud than when heard in our minds.

Worried Other People Will Think You Mad - Try This

A great technique to try is to record yourself and replay the one-way conversation. These voice notes are a splendid way to process out loud, as you can go back later to review the ideas and details.

Voice recording is also the perfect way of quickly capturing information, especially when you are on the move.  Perhaps something occurs to you when you are driving, exercising, or otherwise unable to write anything down. Most smartphones have a voice note app factory-installed, and we all know that we tend to be surgically attached to our mobiles!

Capturing your thoughts out loud in the moment is like brainstorming your to-do list.  Once it's out, your mind can move on to other things and stop its endless rumination.

when you ask yourself out loud you know what help you want

It's easier to call help when you have clarified your thinking

How To Ask For Help

Now you’re clear on what you are asking for, the next step is to actually ask for the help you need.

If you want help then be direct. You don’t have to be forceful, bossy or rude.  Try and be succinct and avoid being abstract. 

For example "I need help getting this report to the boss on Tuesday morning.  Would you be able to complete the section on headcount, if I have the information ready by 9.30 a.m Monday?"

In this scenario, you are stating what you want.  You specify that you will have your input ready at a very specific time.  You are direct about what you need for support. All the bases are covered.

The Best Way To Sort Out A Problem Is To Ask Out Loud

Sometimes the best way to sort through a problem and ask for help is to process the issue out loud in conversation.

Whether you have the help of a friend, your smartphone, or are speaking to no one in particular, the act of speaking out loud helps you figure out what you really want. From there, you can prepare to get the help you need.

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About the author

For years, despite career success, I was plagued with inner doubt. I worried about what other people thought. I became anxious about doing things wrong, felt out of my depth, and struggled with imposter syndrome. Above all, I feared failing. So, I worked long hours to prove myself worthy. It was exhausting, and it took a toll. My relationships suffered - my husband and I were becoming virtual strangers - and I had no social life. When the ravages of my doubts began to affect my health, I knew something had to change. I know there is a better way to live. Let me show you how.

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