Actually talking to yourself is a good idea.
Flash cards are good for "see x, think y" automatically - as a knee-jerk reaction. They are good for other things also - for example the process of making my own flashcards helps me almost as much as using them as flashcards.
Anyway, back to using them as flash cards. This is how I use them....
I flash through them and my reaction to each card puts that card into one of three piles: duh!, ehm-er-I think..., and huh?what?
The duh! are set aside, I'll use them later but they are just in the way at this point.
The ehm-er-I-thinks, I go through again. Usually they sort into those I know now that I've reminded myself or one might be a duh that just caught me off guard the first time....and those I have on the tip of my tongue but can't quite get or tend to mix up with a similar one. These I go through a few times, giving a little time to think if needed, but not much, if I can't get it soon I look at the answer. If I consistantly get stuck everytime it comes up it goes in the Huh?what? pile. If I get it fast it goes to the back of the pile, the longer I hesitate the further to the front of the pile I slide it into. Some will be slide behind the next card. Sometimes i work only two for a little while. When i start getting them, I mix a third in. Even if I don't get it I sometimes mix in others just to change the pace.
If it seems like work, I mix in a few from the duh pile just to liven things up and give a little boost to the spirit. When I get to really booking through most of them, then I put the easiest ones in the duh pile and mix in a few from the Huh?What? pile. Alternatively, I put that pile down and pick up the huh?What? pile and either go through it slowly a few times thinking about what that card means and how it connects to everything else and how it is different, or pick two and do just the two until i start getting it, then mix in a third (or do two differentent ones, then mix the four).
I'm out of time, put that might get you started.