I talk to myself. I have for years. I used to try to hide it. Maybe I still do.
When my children were preschool age, I was home with them give or take a part time job here or there. Do you remember what that’s like? Some of you are still in that place. I remember it well. It was a lot of noise, but not a lot of conversation. Those years were a great time in the life of our family, but they didn’t provide me with a lot of opportunities to exchange information interesting to someone over the age of 4. So, I would sometimes “practice” what I would tell Gary when he got home after work. I clearly remember times when I would say something out loud and then edit it – saying it different ways. I would repeat this process until I had it nailed solidly in place – exactly what I would tell him.
Two things happened. First, as soon as he walked through the door, I started in on the soliloquy I had practiced and perfected throughout the day. I’m sure he loved that. Or not.
Second, once he was home, I would still sometimes talk to myself. “Are you talking to yourself?” he’d ask. Because I wanted to be everything he wanted me to be (which, in my mind meant someone who probably didn’t talk to herself) (maybe I have insecurity issues), I would answer either, “No, I’m singing” and then promptly proceed to sing, or “Yes, and it’s the best conversation I’ve had all day.” The second response was far more honest than the first.
(I feel I need to stop and apologize to Andy & Caitlyn. My dear children, you were a lot of fun to raise, and I’m glad I was able to be home with you. And,on occasion, we had profound conversations. I treasure those.)
A few years back, a member of our church came in and led our staff in a workshop on personality types. I don’t remember if it was classic Myers-Briggs or an offshoot. So I don’t remember if I am an ISTJ an ASAP or an LOL. (Apparently, I’m the personality type that didn’t really pay attention to personality-type labels!)
While he was discussing one of the categories that I fit into, he mentioned “these people tend to talk to themselves.”
WHAT?!?!?! That’s a real thing? That’s a personality trait?
That day – oh, that beautiful day, I stood tall and proudly said (to myself), “I talk to myself and I’m okay!” I felt completely validated that day. I no longer had an annoying habit of talking to myself. Instead, I was operating within a generally accepted code of behaviors for my personality type. So freeing! So satisfying! So un-loony bin!
(In complete transparency, I must confess that I just read that paragraph again. Out loud – to myself. No one else is here, except my dog, and she totally ignores me when I talk to myself. She gets me.)
According to Mr. Personality Type Workshop Leader, people like me talk to themselves because we process information better out loud! Who knew?!? Well, apparently he knew. And so did whoever studied all this stuff. Ms. Myers? Ms. Briggs?
Learning that I’m (somewhat) okay in talking to myself gave me permission to 1. continue doing it, and 2. pause when talking to myself and notice what was really happening. It’s true: I really do process information when I talk to myself.
If I’m grabbing for a word or phrase when writing, I’m generally unable to come up with it through soundless thinking. But let me move my mouth and get my vocal chords involved and, most times, I’ll quickly find exactly what I’m looking for.
If I don’t understand something at work, I (quietly) talk it through and, BOOM! I can solve the issue.
I still practice what I want to share with Gary. It benefits him. By talking out loud, I can process through and decide what I really want him to know. Honestly, if I don’t do that, I’ll talk to him for a good 5 minutes trying to get to a 30-second point. Now multiply that by several very interesting points I want to make. Believe me. It’s happened. He’ll tell you.
I know writers come in all personality types, yet I wonder how many talk to themselves. I’ve journaled for many years, which is a form of talking to myself – a way to use words to make sense of what I’m thinking.
Writing for an audience does the same thing. Last week, I heard writer and instructor Ann Swindell, say that often it’s the act of writing that helps us make sense of a situation.
That’s true for me. When I sit down to write, whether in my journal with a pen or on the computer for this blog, I know where I’m starting (with the facts of a situation), but don’t fully know where I’m headed (with the meaning of a situation). But through the act of writing, I personally gain wisdom into something that has happened.
Talking “out loud,” either vocally or in writing, is my quirky, yet best method for processing and making sense of life as it happens.
But know this: if you catch me talking to myself and call me on it, I’ll deny it.
Then I’ll start singing.