Do you do it? I do.
Maybe too much.
Or maybe not enough.
Talking to myself has an odd way of setting things in order in my mind, or making sense of things that don’t make sense. Sometimes it’s as simple as reciting the things I need to do today, and sometimes it’s a rant against the most recent world news.
“What has happened to the world? Have people completely lost their freakin’ minds?”
Come on. You know you’ve said it, too.
Sometimes its a fellow driver on the road to whom I direct my commentary, and sometimes it’s the dog after he’s peed on the floor — which really isn’t talking to myself, I guess, but neither of them seem to know or care about my diatribe (except maybe the dog, who hears only “blah blah blah, bad dog” and runs the other way).
Okay, we talk to ourselves sometimes. But why?
An Australian professor named Joseph Jordania reportedly suggests that our human ancestors, like other social animals, regularly vocalized to remain in contact with other members of the group. Silence and freezing-in-place signaled danger, so singing and humming to oneself within earshot of others was a notably good thing.
Some say that this evolutionary history suggests that prolonged silence may make us feel uneasy or fearful. According to this Jordania fellow, talking to oneself is merely one of the ways to fill in prolonged gaps of uncomfortable silence. It can also be accomplished by leaving the television or radio on all the time. Know anyone who does that? Hhmmmm... I guess that’s one way to look at it -- we make noise to keep ourselves calm and fend off fear.
Another view is that talking to ourselves is a way of clearing our mind and focusing on the things that are significant in our world. Kids do this all the time when they talk through the steps of any given task; just watch them playing alone sometime. As adults, self-talk can help us clarify our thinking and work through big decisions. And I’ll confess that I have used loads of self-talk to maintain a positive, healthy attitude toward living with a cancer diagnosis. Not only do I rarely talk with myself about having cancer, I actually talk myself onto another topic when thoughts of "what if" threaten to make their way from the back of my mind to my frontal lobe. I actually use it to manage my thinking in order to stay focused on the present without drifting into the past or worrying about the future.
I found several articles on the topic, including one by Linda Sapadin. She describes four types of self-talk that are designed to make you feel better, and smarter. (Can’t hurt to check it out, right?).
The great news is that it’s easy to talk to oneself these days. Doing it in the car is great because everyone around you just thinks you're on your cell phone. Talking while walking down the street is also okay, so long as you are wearing an earbud or have your palm (with phone) placed firmly against the side of your head. And don’t worry, no one’s really listening to anything you say anyway.
Or are they?
“And that’s another thing, I get so sick and tired of hearing everyone on their cell phones these days…”
I just said that out loud to myself.