Talking to yourself has had a bad rap. I do it, you do it (don’t you?), pretty well everyone does it. We’re not crazy! Self-talk has many useful functions and many benefits. For example, your out-loud private talk can provide company, a pep talk, a safety valve, devil’s advocate, or coaching from your infallible cognitive behaviour therapist. Often we help ourselves to learn something by talking it through.
Keeping your purpose front of mind: a lost skill
Are you inclined to forget why you went into a room or through a door or up or down the stairs? Join the club. Our heads are so full of Very Important Thoughts (the Middle East crisis, global warming, hip operation, granddaughter’s birthday) that we lose track of a thought as mundane as why we walked from A to B.
Here’s a tip that I’ve just started using consciously with awesome results: I just say out loud why I’m moving from A to B.
- “I am going downstairs to make a rum baba” (in your dreams)
- “I am going into the study to book my ticket to Timbucktoo”
- “I am going into the garden to pick parsley” (not to rip out weeds or bring in the washing).
Mindfulness the manageable way: self chatter
Mindfulness day by day, living in the moment, so desirable, so difficult to achieve! And what is this loop of personal jabber but mindfulness in action?
If I can make stair-talk a habit, that gives me 20 or 30 moments of mindfulness a day. Without such a habit, mindful moments are random, and sometimes a whole day goes by without a pocket of mental peace and refreshment.
I am listening to birds
This afternoon I had a very beautiful experience by using this simple expedient.
I was taking my vege scraps to the community garden — no detours allowed.
On the walk, there’s a patch of trees favoured by the Olympic champion bird choirs of Mount Victoria. Today I got massive delight from their performance just because, at the top of the hill I said to myself, “I am listening to the birds.”
Focus. Focus (mindfulness) brings pleasures beyond just accomplishing the task in hand.
Today has been a perfect day, and it’s not over yet.