Submitted by Don Doman
I was standing at the check-out line at Safeway on North Pearl. The cashier was talking softly . . . I wasn’t sure who she was talking to. I finally asked, “Are you talking to me?” She shook her head and said, “No. I was talking to myself.” I responded, “Good. For a minute there I thought we were married.”
My wife does talk to herself and I have to clarify frequently, just to make sure I don’t miss out on something important.
I talk to myself, too and know that I am not alone. According to Correlated.org, “In general, 49 percent of people (audibly) talk to themselves a lot.” I think I’ve always talked to myself. If I felt really bad about the habit, I guess I would call it rehearsing. If I’m going to talk with a client, or propose something at an organizational meeting, I like to know how it is going to sound. Talking it out helps me figure out if I am right or wrong. I would rather be a fool to myself than to others.
Harvey MacKay writing in his article “People Who Talk to Themselves Have a Captive Audience” reveals “In doing some research on this subject, I discovered that “private speech,” as psychologists call it, starts as soon as kids learn to talk, typically between 18-24 months. It serves two purposes: It (1) helps kids practice language skills and (2) allows them to reflect on daytime experiences.” Reflection is good. I’ll think about what someone has said to me and I will replay the conversation in my mind. I may start talking by asking myself, “Do I remember that correctly? Is that what he said?” Then I ask myself, again, “What did they really mean?” Soon I have a Plato and Socrates conversation going on.
I wish that most conversations with myself were more meaningful and philosophical, but quite often they involve questions about a baseball cap, a camera, or my car keys. The volume goes up and becomes a little accusatory when time is running short and I have an appointment somewhere.
When I am writing an article I almost always start with my own little conversation. It’s funny, but when I’m thinking of what I will be writing, I can repeat the words and phrases with no problem. Once I’ve written down my thoughts, they sometimes disappear and surprise me. I’ll agree or disagree with what I wrote and make changes.
Many people think that talking to yourself is a sign of genius. It helps talk around a subject and lets you come at a subject from a different direction. I subscribe to this line of thinking, but sooner or later you would need to back up or cave in if there is no concrete example of critical thinking, resolution, or a solid example to point to when people say, “You’re not so smart. You’re just weird.”
I’ve always liked this poem/joke (which has nothing to do with me . . . I’m just saying)
Roses are red,
Violets are blue
I think I’m crazy
And so do I . . .
Talking to yourself is a good way of getting rid of anger and aggression. You can talk yourself down, but quite often these types of conversations have lots of gestures. I never really yell when I’m doing this, and I would never hurt anyone, but try explaining that to the nice little neighbor lady as she pulls up next to you at a stop light.
Self talk works well for me when I’m going to the grocery store. It helps me organize myself . . . but doesn’t always help me remember what I was supposed to buy. If that happens I then promise myself to try a little harder next time, or bring Peg’s list. Then I just listen to the checker talk to themselves.