“Melody?” my husband calls.
I don’t answer.
I mutter something that might or might not have been an answer. And if it was an answer, was it for him?
I shake my head and look up. He’s no longer sitting on the couch. I jump as I feel a hand land on my shoulder.
“Did you even hear me?”
“Um, no, sorry.”
“What were you saying?”
I shrug. “Nothing, I was just talking to myself…thinking about my day.”
“Why do you talk to yourself all the time? I never know whether you’re talking to me or not!”
“Sorry.” I shrug again, pick up the knife waiting next to the cutting board, and continue slicing cucumbers.
My husband sighs and leaves me to my work.
Sadly, this scene has played out countless times. My husband constantly catches me muttering random things to myself.
I get where he’s coming from. When you walk into a room and someone is talking, you automatically want to know who they were talking to and what they were saying. When someone starts talking when you’re in the room, even if you can’t hear them, you automatically think they’re talking to you.
I completely understand his frustration. It frustrates me, too. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with myself have been interrupted this way.
I’m sure we’re not the only ones that deal with this. So, for all us, I want to find out…Why?
Why do I talk to myself?
I don’t think that’s a simple question. I’ve gone over all of the obvious answers:
Perhaps I like to hear the sound of my own voice.
This doesn’t seem likely, but I doubt anyone would agree to this. Could you blame me if it was true? I’ve had to grow up with “melodious” jokes all my life. On the other hand, I do work better when some noise is in the background.
Perhaps I’m lonely.
This seems more likely. It would make perfect sense if I just talked to myself when I’m alone. It does not, however, explain why I feel the urge to talk to myself when my husband or other people are around.
Perhaps I do work things out better by talking than by writing.
I’ve always asserted that I am a writer, not a talker. I supposed, in the long run, I’ve done more talking…to myself. I don’t really think that counts.
Perhaps it boosts my concentration. I don’t know why I would need to tell myself that I’m going to do something sixty seconds after deciding to do it, but I’ve heard people say that talking out loud can help with concentration and memory. I’m good with just taking their word for it.
Perhaps I actually think I am having a conversation. I don’t mean that I’m talking to unheard voices or voices in my head. But maybe pretending that I’m having a conversation might benefit me in some way. Private pep talks, for instance. 🙂
Perhaps I’m one step away from becoming a crazy cat lady. Maybe some day, but I grew up in a household of women who talk out loud to themselves. They don’t have any cats. I’ll take that as a good sign.
Perhaps it’s just a habit that I picked up. That would suggest that it’s something I can learn to stop, that I should stop. I prefer not to think of it like that. If you’re still reading, you probably feel the same way.
I don’t think these simple, common answers will lead me anywhere near the truth.
I like to think that, I’m unconsciously chronicling my many adventures. The words I speak to myself make up an endless commentary to my life. Isn’t that a lovely way to think about it?
And isn’t that exactly what thoughts are? Why not make life more interesting?
Life would be so boring without that commentary. Yes, I would feel lonely, and I would lose my train of thought more often, and I probably would crave more time with other people. Why go through that when I can laugh at myself, chide myself, encourage myself? I can talk to inanimate objects, too. It’s like an adventure I can’t contain in my head!
Sure, I must sound pretty strange when I start talking to myself about the latest fantasy book I read or working out notes for my novel. I’m not talking about that. That sounds like crazy talk. I deserve the looks I get when I start talking about dragons in the grocery store.
Despite all that, I think keeping a running commentary of my life is actually what keeps me sane…helps me feel alive and…heard. I don’t know. Does that make sense?
So why can’t I just stop?
I’m asking all of those people out there who talk to themselves. Why don’t you stop?
I’m not entirely sure that I can. It’s unconscious, just like breathing or blinking. It’s a part of who I am. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to stop talking to myself when someone else is in the room. If given the choice, however, I don’t think I’d want to stop talking to myself.
Scientific studies are actually shedding light on the benefits of talking to yourself. News flash: it’s actually not a sign of madness.
Well, okay, talking constantly to yourself isn’t good.
But a little self chatter actually proves that you are smarter and more creative than people who don’t. That does actually make me feel awesome. Go ahead, pat yourself on the back if you talk out loud to yourself. If you don’t, maybe you should try it sometime. 🙂
I know I’m definitely not alone. Who else talks to themselves on a regular basis? Raise your hands!
Why do you think you talk to yourself?
What’s the most awkward situation you’ve that talking to yourself has gotten you into? Don’t worry, it can’t be worse than talking to yourself while your husband is trying to have a conversation with you.