As Plato once said, “when the mind is thinking it is talking to itself”. It is something everyone does on a daily basis and it is a perfectly natural occurrence. However, while it is common to talk to yourself in your head, it is a little less frequent to do so out loud. But why? I’ve found that talking aloud to yourself is more beneficial than any response you can get from someone else, and for this reason it has become my own personal form of therapy…
Talking to yourself is not just about occasionally swearing at the desk because your foot had an unscheduled meeting with it. Neither is it making sarcastic remarks to yourself whenever you do something silly. No, it is not even about singing out loud when no one can hear you. What I am referring to is something that turns heads in the street and makes people wonder how you escaped the mental hospital.
I would often see people staring at me, but I never put my finger on the reason why – I was fully dressed, not wearing socks with crocs or any ostentatious make-up. And I really did not remember having an innate, stupendous beauty. However, slowly but surely, I started to realise when I ‘abused’ this practice of talking alone – as many people call it.
I first realised it one day when I was walking down the street, struggling to find the right words for an apology. Part-way through my debate, I saw out of the corner of my eye a withered hand trying to reach me. As I turned around with a puzzled expression, a fairly grey-haired gentleman simply smiled and told me: ‘Don’t worry too much! Tell her what you said so far, I am sure she will understand. But do quit gesticulating, it is quite tiring to follow.’
In time I started having such discussions at night, although instead with an entirely imagined listener. It would often take the shape of a friend who would act as my psychiatrist. Through these conversations, I was able to be completely honest because there was no reason to hide something out of fear for being judged. I become my own judge. These late night heart-to-hearts with myself gave me the ability to self-analyse, uncover my motivations and expose the sources of my anxieties and flaws.
“I can imagine hypothetical situations and see how others might react. Ideas flow fluently when I can hear them out loud and it is much easier for me to judge and improve them, compared to when I just sit at my desk”
You could compare this process to a performance, one that I give to a phantom audience. My coffee cup often proves itself to be a very useful partner for discussing philosophy, as do my bedroom objects when I need to discuss the hardships of life. My dog is also another great conversation partner, particularly when I need to express my disappointment with people or even my fears for the future.
Other times, I find myself strolling back and forth in my room, suddenly dashing across it or throwing myself in the bed depending on the circumstances. I am constantly babbling, mumbling and jabbering and of course, I do not deny there have been moments worthy of being called ‘silly’. Picture me standing in the middle of the lane, with a handful of villagers pointing at me as I am angrily lecturing my dog with head shaking and finger wagging.
However I need this wacky ritual, especially when I want to create something. For scripts, articles and presentations, talking to myself is crucial. It allows me to not only organise my thoughts, but also become my own audience. I can imagine hypothetical situations and see how others might react. Ideas flow fluently when I can hear them out loud and it is much easier for me to judge and improve them, compared to when I just sit at my desk, gazing absent-mindedly at a Van Gogh’s self-portrait.
After reading this you might think that talking to yourself is not such a bad habit. Of course, I will never say that people who talk to themselves because they are mentally impaired should not receive treatment and that talking alone is a good thing in their case, but it is important to know how to use this loneliness to your advantage.
If I were asked why I started developing this tendency, I would reply that it is because at certain key points in my life I was alone and I had to turn to someone…so I turned to myself. Now, I am never alone. Even when no one else is around me, I have someone to talk to and confide in.
Does anyone else talk to themselves aloud?