Talking To Myself. WITH PURPOSE.

I’ve always talked to myself. It usually varies on the range from ONLY WHEN I AM BY MYSELF to ALL THE TIME ALL THE PLACES.  And while it drifts on that range from day to day,  most of the time I just do it when I’m in the car or home alone. And it’s always kinda off-hand benign stuff that I don’t even realize I’m saying out loud. Like, “Uggg. This wind is freaky.” Or, “Where did I put my keys?” Nothing that would alarm anyone listening in through my Alexa, is what I’m saying.

But I’ve been trying something new the last 24 hours and y’all – it might make the whole world think I’m having a mental health emergency but IT MIGHT BE HELPING ME WITH SOME STUFF.

I have this problem, it stems with some of my compulsive tendencies with my anxieties. Basically something happens in my brain that happens in everyone’s brain…I start worrying about something I said or did around someone that might have been inappropriate/embarrassing etc. I know that is not abnormal, we all do it and there are memes to prove it.

But my compulsive tendencies will have me not able to STOP thinking about that thing. Like last month when I worried I might have offending someone for not picking up the hints about her hyphenated name, I literally DID NOT SLEEP AT ALL because I kept thinking about it and how upset she probably was. 

Sidenote: This is also a habit which magnifies my social anxieties. If you knew you’d lose sleep over a social faux pas, you’d be even more worried about making them.

Well, yesterday morning I found myself worrying about maybe having embarrassed E about something. I was driving home from Knoxville and I could not stop my brain from hyper-focusing on this one thing: Was he embarrassed?…Was he disappointed?…Would he be upset?…Would he even tell me if he was?…Or would I just wonder forever?…Did I even want him to tell me because that would be worse?…

You get the point.

I have learned that once in awhile I can just address the incident with the person to stop the hyper-focus. And while I love those moments because it releases me from the worry, it is rarely the case I can do that because I have learned that MANY times I feel EVEN MORE STUPID for bringing it up which creates an even bigger spiral for me to descend.

Plus…it was like 5am his time so he would have killed me if I had called him just to apologize for this thing he probably didn’t even notice.

SO! I tried something new because I really wanted my brain to stop focusing on that one thing. I had tried podcasts and music and audio books and nothing was helping, so I started talking to myself. I started – out loud – just kinda narrating my life. I was commenting on the beautiful trees on the interstate and discussing with myself my opinions about the various cars I could see around me. I chatted with myself about how I wished I had brought my driving flip-flops because my feet felt constricted. I discussed my worries about the upcoming election. I just kept talking until eventually I forgot why I was talking and I was able to zone out on a podcast again.

IT WORKED.

So I tried it again later in the day when I caught myself thinking BAD THOUGHTS about myself. It’s a bad habit I’ve been in lately where I spiral down these terribly cruel thought patterns that would make me RAGE if I heard anyone else say the same things about my friends or family. But I can think them about myself JUST FINE evidently.

So I started talking again. I was walking around the house narrating everything I was doing. I started tasks JUST so I could narrate them. I opened up a book and started reading OUT LOUD. 

It’s weird. It’s like it takes way more focus for me to VOCALIZE than I ever realized. I mean, I read silently and the bad thoughts creep into my brain. But I read out loud and it’s like: NOPE. THERE IS NO ROOM. I AM MAKING SOUNDS WITH MY MOUTH AND CAN NOT THINK THESE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ANYMORE.

I guess I’m just wanting to document this in case someone sneaks a video of me at Target talking about the cans of beans on the shelf and posts it to social media. IT IS A TRICK I AM DOING TO COMPENSATE FOR NEGATIVE CYCLICAL THOUGHT PATTERNS, DO NOT MOCK ME INTERNET.

Anyway…I’m going to keep this weapon in my arsenal for all of my negative thought patterns and see how it works. I will keep you posted!

5 Comments

  • Jana

    I’ve done this, too. And it does really help. I do the same thing as you, I will start to worry that that thing I said was embarrassing, or could be perceived differently than I meant it. And pretty soon I’ve turned it into a huge mountain instead of the mole hill it was. I also beat myself up about it FOREVER. I’m so mean to myself. I’ve tried telling myself that if someone else did this, I would tell them it was okay, even if it was something they did wrong! But I can’t to myself. And I make myself relive it over and over, like that is helpful. Anxiety is hard.

  • Beth Edwards

    I used to talk to myself all the time. I don’t do it anymore, and just realized that the self talk has gotten more negative lately. So- back to the talking to myself. My theory is that if you are a verbal learner, hearing what you are thinking or seeing, helps process your thoughts.I am also slowly learning that if I am super worried about something I have said or done to another, that the best way is to apologize or to talk to them. Either, the two of you will talk about it or you will find out that it didn’t bother them or they have processed it and moved on. The more I read your blogs, the more I realize that we have similar personalities. I have the advantage of age and experience. During my last counselor visit, we had a discussion about how my personality type means that I worry and dwell on things, that others have already moved on from and that didn’t bother them in the first place. So- today is the day that I revive the practice of talking to myself.

  • Lucy McConville

    Wow! This is SOOOO interesting! I’m curious to know if you consider yourself a visual learner or an auditory learner…? I really think you should go to the psychology department at the university near you and tell them about this…it would make such an interesting study! (You know, a study there at the school with other participants…not for them to study YOU…LOL!! Haha! I’m not suggesting you go “turn yourself in” Haha! I talk to myself constantly, too. Haha.)

  • Meg

    I talk to myself a lot, and it definitely does soothe some of my frenzied worries! Also, sometimes just naming the thing can help. BUT I also once said “It’s ok, you can do it, it’s going to be fine” out loud when I wasn’t alone… so…. yeah, not foolproof.