Talking to Yourself

In most countries talking to yourself is a sign of mental instability, if not downright madness. The reason hand-free telephones are now never used outside of the car is that no-one wants to look as if they are vocalising an internal dialogue. “The voices told me to do it” is the often used plea of an assassin desperate to avoid Death Row.

As far as the West is concerned Augustine of Hippo invented the interior self of mind and memory as distinct from the exterior “self of perception”. This found its highest expression in James Joyce’s awful book Ulysses.


We all talk to ourselves and what we say is important. People with inferiority complexes are always telling themselves how bad they are, how undeserving of respect: You deserve to fail because you aren’t good at anything!. Arrogant people are always sharing their perceived superior qualities with themselves: You are easily more intelligent than these buffoons!


In both cases the interior dialogue is defective because it leads to damaging delusions. A correct interior dialogue leads to a happier life.


Harmful interior dialogues come from negative statements about yourself which sprinkle your everyday conversation, self-deprecating remarks that influence your behaviour or beliefs, negative descriptions given to you by members of your family of origin or peer group when you were younger and which you still believe.


A good start to developing a healthy interior dialogue is to make daily affirmations. Imagine that every time you see yourself in a mirror you say I am competentI am energetic or I am a good person. These are statements about who you are and will act like affirmative antibodies on your infected interior self.


Then you can start working on your potential! I can lose weightI can handle my childrenI can be positive and I can laugh and have fun with my feelings.


Use sentences that start with I amI can and I will. Avoid negative sentences like I will not smoke and make them positive, I will stop smoking.


Shakespeare used the technique of letting us hear the interior dialogue of his characters. One of the clearest is the opening of Richard III when the protagonist basically says I am ugly and so I will be bad.


… since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days


In the rest of the play we see how his interior dialogue affects the outside world.


We can be Richards or Romeos, closed gates or Bill Gates, winners or losers.


So, tell yourself what you want to be and to do.


Literally, say what you will.

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