Friday, 10 February 2012

We need to talk

I talk to myself. I always have done. It's a trait I inherit from my father. It's one of those habits people don't like to confess to, but I'm sure it's very common.

I sometimes talk to myself outside the house, and I notice people giving me funny looks, wondering if I'm mad or mentally lacking. I silence myself instantly and feign innocence, as if it must have been someone else they heard.

I often talk to myself at home. I find it helps me to think. It's like talking to another person about something. The two-way conversation helps me to elucidate things and develop new ideas.

I wouldn't go quite as far as Woody Allen, who once said "I always talk to myself because I'm the most intelligent person I know". But certainly it helps to know that whatever the subject, I have a listener who understands what I'm talking about - because after all he raised the subject in the first place.

I've never tried to cure the habit. It's not doing any harm, except to cause a few puzzled glances. I have no idea what causes it, whether it's genetic or unconsciously copied from my father.

I don't even know how prevalent it is, since as I say, people don't like to admit to it. I don't know if it affects five per cent of the population or 55 per cent.

I remember once walking in Covent Garden, in London, and coming across Lord Longford, the late campaigner for prison reform and other causes. He was busily talking to himself, completely oblivious to the crowds of people all around him. And no, he wasn't on the phone. In those days mobiles hadn't been invented.

So come on, own up, how many of you talk to your own alter ego? If you all deny it, I shan't believe you. And neither will Nick.

29 comments:

Scarlet Blue said...

I mutter to myself. Usually obsenities... oh dear, I am a muttering crazy woman...
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - Oh goodness me, I don't run to obscenities. I have exceedingly elevated, erudite conversations with myself. About what type of biscuits to have for elevenses, for example.

Grannymar said...

I can honestly say that I neither talk to myself or snore. I just asked myself.... and myself said "Definitely not!", so there you have it.

Nick said...

Grannymar - Oh dear, I do snore occasionally. Jenny has to wake me up and complain. Or so my other self tells me.

Bijoux said...

I talk to myself to help me remember what I'm doing! As in, I head down to the basement and repeat aloud, "Paper towels, ice cream, dishwashing detergent" so that I don't forget what I'm going down there for!! Sad, but true.

Nick said...

Bijoux - Ah, I have lists of things to do so I don't need to talk to myself about those. My self-talking is mostly about problem-solving of one kind or another.

John Gray said...

I not only talk but I gesture as I walk as I talk.......
yes I do look mentally ill on occassion!!!!

Eryl said...

I talk, and like John (above) gesture too, and find wearing ear-phones with a wire leading to a pocket stops people looking at me as if I'm bonkers, on the whole.

nursemyra said...

The only time I talk to myself is when I'm consulting a street directory. If the coordinates I'm looking for are on page 35, C10, I always say that out loud as I'm flipping to the right page. A friend of mine also does this.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Oh sure - all the time. There's the general muttering to myself about what I'm doing, the occasional outbursts of profanity after I've stubbed my toe or what have you, the recitation of lists that Bijoux mentioned, the subsequent out-loud, "Now what did I come here for again?" and on and on. I think it's normal. Once my boyfriend butt-dialed me while he was working on his boat and I got a long voicemail of him muttering to himself as he worked.

But if you're in public, you could always bob your head as you talked so people will think you're just singing. :-)

kylie said...

i talk to myself all the time and for all kinds of reasons but i dont converse, its a monologue.and i try to keep my lips still.

my kids inherit it, mostly keaghan and most notably as a way to blow steam when he is angry. we both do it, talk to the air as if we were speaking to the person we are angry with, until we calm down

Nick said...

John - Ah, gesturing is something I don't do. But now you've sown the idea in my brain, eek!

Eryl - The wire leading into pocket is a good idea. Or I could be holding what appears to be a voice recorder, as if I'm a passing journalist.

Myra - I do that as well. Plus additional mumbling to the effect of "It's supposed to be in C5 but I can't see it. Where is this bloody road?" (Swear curse expletive etc)

Nick said...

Agent - I love the butt-dialled muttering. Hilarious. Don't think the singing ruse would work, I'm too obviously in earnest discussion with myself....

Kylie - I also tend to talk to myself more when I'm angry about something. And yes, it helps to calm me down.

Scarlet Blue said...

...sometimes I do the gestures without the talking... I noticed myself sternly pointing at an inamimate object last night and there were no words coming out of my mouth.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - Gestures without the talking? Goodness, that's most alarming. I've called an ambulance, it should be with you very soon. In the meantime, just try to keep calm.

Wisewebwoman said...

My take on it Nick is that when we are actually AWARE we are talking to ourselves, we are not certifiable.
Yes, me too.
XO
WWW

Suburbia said...

In my head I think I do it all the time, but out loud usually only when vexed!

Nick said...

www - That's a clever distinction, hadn't thought of that.

Suburbia - I think anger causes most of us to externalise. From vicious curses through to uncontrollable rants....

Megan said...

All the time. Every day.

Nick said...

Megan - Wow, and I thought I was bad! You must get some very funny looks. Though probably you don't notice because you're deep in conversation....

Jenny Woolf said...

Reading this, I have realised I've stopped talking to myself in recent months after a lifetime of doing it. perhaps that means I'm not a very interesting conversationalist any more :) but seriously it is rather weird. Of course I always have an internal dialogue with myself but it's not the same.

You could make a habit of going out with one of those earpieces dangling from your ears which people use so they don't have to hold a mobile phone. If you can be bothered. Better to be like Lord Longford (well, not in EVERY way of course). But he certainly didn't care what people thought of him.

Nick said...

Jenny - Ah, so there's hope for me yet, I might just suddenly stop doing it. It's a good job the whole population doesn't wander round talking to themselves. It'd be like one big loony bin.

Rummuser said...

Welcome to the club Nick. I always talk to myself. The conversation usually starts with "Mr. Rajgoapual, you are an idiot."

blackwatertown said...

Hmmm... Talking to yourself. Reminds me of an apocryphal story about Gerry Fitt and Ian Paisley.

Ian and Gerry were talking during a smoking break in Northern Ireland political talks about talks way back when - when Gerry turns to Ian for advice.

"I just don't seem to be able to perform in the bedroom like I used to," said Gerry. "Do you know what I mean?"

"Not at all," says Ian. "I've never been afflicted in that way myself, but I can offer some advice. As soon as I get in the front door at home, I start telling myself - I'm sexy. I'm sexy."

"Is that right?" says gerry.

"Oh yes, I start quietly, under my breath, but as I mount the stairs, I get louder and louder - I'm sexy, I'm sexy. and by the time I'm in the bedroom door, I always in the mood. You should try it."

So Gerry resolves to give it a go. That evening he arrives home. He closes the front door behind him and whispers to himself - I'm sexy.

He feels a bit self-conscious and silly, but dismisses these negative thoughts. After all, if it works for the Rev Ian, there must be something to it.

Slowly he clims the stairs muttering "I'm sexy, I'm sexy."

As he gets higher, he gets louder - "I'm sexy, I'm sexy."

Till he gets to the top and is fairly bellowing - "I'm sexy, I'm sexy."

A voice comes from the bedroom...

"Is that you Ian?"


Clearly this is completely untrue, because Gerry always lived in a bungalow.

www.blackwatertown.wordpress.com

Nick said...

Ramana - I diagnose serious self-esteem issues. Try telling yourself, I'm the most intelligent person in the street, I'm the most intelligent person in the street....

Blackwater - I love it. Okay, here goes: I'm sexy, I'm sexy....

Baino said...

Always. I'm just thankful that mobile phones let me get away with talking to myself whilst in the car. People think I'm talking on a hands free but mostly, I'm having a conversation I should have had earlier.

Nick said...

Baino - From now on I shall always suspect that passers-by with trailing wires are really talking to themselves. Ditto everyone in a car with their mouth open.

Liz said...

I talk to myself almost non-stop, usually just under my breath. It just surprises me that more people don't.

Nick said...

Liz - Glad to hear it, most reassuring. That is, if knowing we're both bonkers is reassuring. I was caught self-talking at work last week. Soooo embarrassing.