I am quite a conversationalist with myself. I have full-blown discussions, which are characterized by two distinctly different thought processes. One is the “I don’t know what I’m doing” part of my brain and the other is the part that says, “It’s okay. You don’t always have to have everything together.” I guess we could call these the Insecure Worrier versus the Consoler and Guide.
I have these conversations silently (or quietly) when others are around and out loud when something is especially worrying me and I’m alone. Sometimes I only respond out loud to one side of the conversation since both are coming from my head. I do that always when I’m alone since people might think I was a bit crazy if I said in front of them something like, “Yes, I know, but I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
The more I describe this phenomenon, the more I sound like those people I sometimes see walking down the street having full-blown arguments with themselves. These folks are usually schizophrenics off their medications and are often upset and out of touch with reality. In contrast, when I’m talking to myself, I’m usually very calm and am, in fact, trying to gain more clarity about my reality. (I wonder if that’s what they would say too?)
A common conversation I have with myself might go like this:
“I don’t know how I feel about what just happened.”
“It’s okay. The situation was confusing.”
“Well, the truth is I’m not happy. I feel pretty pissed off about that exchange.”
“Yes, I understand. It didn’t feel very good.”
”But what now?”
“Maybe just recognizing how you feel is the first step.”
Another way to describe that exchange is one voice is the “experiencer” and the other is the “witness.”
Not always, of course. Most of the time I am simply sitting and thinking about neutral information or watching a television show or reading a book and reacting internally to that stimuli. The process I’m describing comes when I have something to work out – to problem-solve – and since I believe I am pretty auditory in the way I process, I need to hear the words spoken.
Am I alone in doing this? I looked up one study that said 96% of people have internal self-talk, particularly when they are problem-solving. Only around 25% actually talk to themselves out loud and have the kind of conversations that I described above. But that’s still 1/4th of the population, which translates to a lot of folks. So, that’s reassuring.
The article also said people often speak out loud to themselves to give themselves a pep talk. This is definitely the other thing I do on a routine basis. For example, I might be feeling low and say (or think) something like, “Oh, man. I’m not feeling very happy today.” My Consoler/Guide might respond with a kind word. “You’ve been working hard. You’re tired. You might need to get some rest today.”
Sometimes I literally look in the mirror, stroke my cheek, and say, “It’s okay. You’re doing fine. It’s just a tough time.” I will admit this approach works quite well, particularly if I am overwhelmed with all of the disturbing events that have been happening in our world lately.
So, should you overhear me chatting away with myself and I seem to be discussing something from two points of view, do not fear. One part of my brain is simply helping another part process information.
If I do, however, get a bit too loud or emotional, then you might want to tell me to rein it in.
I don’t want to scare anybody.