I admit it. I’ve been known to talk to myself. Yesterday, I had to get snarky. Three times I attempted to leave the house and three times, I returned for my keys, my purse and finally, my gloves. Exasperated, I bellowed to the four walls, “Hello Caroline. How about joining the party?”
I don’t think self-chatter is a sign of old age. I’ve been doing it as far back as I can remember. Usually, my comments take the form of self encouragement. “You can do this, Caroline. Go for it.” My computer encourages a lot of self-chatter, or maybe I should call it screaming. But that’s for another blog.
Do I talk to myself more or less than the average person? I don’t know. But as long as I understand I’m alone and not conversing with an invisible friend, I think I’m okay.
Happily, researchers have concluded that talking to yourself has a purpose. We employ it “to solve problems, write, motivate ourselves, plan for the future and learn from past mistakes.” (Speak for Yourself,” by Ferris Jabr, Scientific American Mind, Jan/Feb, 2014 pg.46). They came to this conclusion by studying people who suffered brain damage in the area that governs self-talk. Yes, there is such an area. Sufferers report they feel a loss of identity when they lose their capacity to address themselves. (Ibid, pg. 51) Helen Keller, who was deaf, dumb and blind in her early years admitted that until she had sufficient language to form a thought, she had no self awareness: “I did not know that I am, I lived in a world that was a no-world…When I learned the meaning of ‘I’ and ‘me’ and found that I was something, I began to think. Then consciousness first existed for me.” (Ibid. pg. 51)
Simply put, self-talk is self-awareness. (Ibid pg. 47) It preserves ours sense of past and present and helps us remain conscious of ourselves — as opposed to hallucinations which are voices we don’t recognize.
Like most things in life, self-talk has its pluses and minuses. Sending an occasional negative messages to ourselves isn’t inherently bad. It jolts us into paying attention — as I attempted to do with my “join the party,” remark. But too much self criticism fosters depression and mental illness. (Ibid pg. 47)
Generally speaking, though, we don’t need to blush if we are caught talking to ourselves. We aren’t crazy, though we may feel it. We’re having a selfie moment.
(Courtesy of www.mattbors.com)
(Originally posted 1/31/14)