I talk to myself—
A lot—or so I’m told–(even in my sleep).
My partner Sara has been kind enough to point this out to me, because she insists my babble bothers her. She says it “poisons the environment.” Apparently, I complain excessively about things that frustrate me and rarely talk out loud to myself about the positive—my most common complaint, according to Sara, “Good God, it’s hot in here!”
It seems I say this a lot–flinging open windows and tearing off layers of clothing in the process.
Am I over-heated? Yes. Am I cool-headed about it? Not always.
However, I think I’ve generated a justification for my behavior. It may be a bit of stretch, but check it out. Tell me what you think.
You see, the summer between my senior year in college and my first year of graduate school, I spent 3 months studying Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. This program called the Shakespeare Institute (sponsored by the University of Birmingham) acted as an academic arm of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Course work required we see all the plays the company performed that season, one of which was Hamlet. We attended workshops with actors. We spent evenings in pubs, consumed a few too many pints of ale.
It was a tough assignment. But some poor and aspiring graduate student had to do it.
So, I’ve decided, given this history, to use Shakespeare (and Hamlet, more specifically) to justify and maybe even reform my habit of babbling out loud to myself. This means I’ll also address my horrific habit of periodically inserting profanity to punctuate my frustration.
For what is chatting out loud to one self but the epitome of soliloquy? Perhaps, I could argue that in lamenting to myself, I’m merely performing a monologue, of sorts, narrating my own thoughts and feelings in dramatic settings. And my life with Sara is nothing, if not good theater.
Would Sara buy this? Would she agree, given this context, that my lament is more poetry than poison, more play than plague?
What if I ascended a stage, built one in the round, if need be, and pronounced in early modern English, “To sweat or not to sweat, that is the question?” Would that improve the plight of all involved, including our dogs dressed up indoors in winter hats and scarves, costumed against the chill that Sara merely imagines?
What if I rustled up some players, located suitable costumes, and captured the conscience of a king? Would that slow me down enough? Make me more aware that I am, in fact, babbling out loud to begin with? Sara has always said I’m overly dramatic.
Would that keep me from contaminating Sara’s calm or pissing off partner and puppies in one fell swoop?
Would Sara say that I protest too much? Would you?
Yeah, I know—none of this bodes well for my being balanced and of sound mind.
And to make matters even worse, I don’t have an entirely unblemished mental health history to begin with. I mean, sanity hasn’t always been my strong suit. I’ve admitted before I might be a mad brick shy of a lucid load. I’d hate to out-Hamlet Hamlet himself.
But before you get all call-the-white-coats holier-than-thou, before you get all Rosencrantz-and-Guildenstern on me, let me be perfectly clear.
What Piaget would call my egocentric speech is actually a form of mental health hygiene. Rather than suggesting childlike regression, as Piaget would also say, it may evidence an emotional intelligence capable of purging negative thoughts and feelings and helping my brain function more effectively.
In fact, a recent study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology indicates that saying words out loud helps activate parts of the brain, allowing it to process information more efficiently.
So there—all you amateur diagnosticians and mental health know-it-alls with your poisoned panties in a worried wad—————–It ain’t no biggie.
But, and this is a big “BUT,” it bothers someone I love. So I do need to address this not-so-unhealthy but nonetheless-bothersome babble of mine.
Might you know of one?
Do you talk to yourself? If so, when and/or why?
Thanks to my friend Colleen, the “Chatter Master,” for inspiring this post!