You could organise yourself better by doing self-talk.
One of the most intelligent people I know does self-talk away from himself. I remember playing basketball with him, and he would always be chattering away to himself. It could have been a tactic; he always got passed me, I wasn’t very good but still. Even there were other occasions you would look over to him, and the mouth would be flapping.
He could also multitask. He’s more like a mentat from Frank Herbert’s Dune, a human computer.
I used to think that I was boring him because he would always have his head in his phone. I was wrong. When I asked him a question, he would be able to repeat everything that was said to him.
This friend is now a top solicitor.
There could be something to self-talk. I’m sure there are other factors at play like strong work ethic and aptitude, but for this blog, I’m going to write about self-talk.
I have a problem with my attention span.
If you’re like me and get distracted at a moment’s notice talking to yourself is what you need.
I’m a hypocrite. I criticise people for being glued to the TV, I’m no better. I’ve replaced TV with my phone.
It’s taken me forty minutes to get to this point. My phone is beside me; I’m watching Norm MacDonald videos on Youtube. I swear as soon as the current video ends, I’ll turn it off.
Ten minutes pass.
What am I watching? “Ryan Reynolds Savage Moments 2” what? You know what I’m not even going to watch this, I’m stalling. Writing that I am stalling is also a form of stalling.
I’m going to turn it off now. I tal to myself “Kieran, you need to turn off YouTube,” “But it’s almost over” “Kieran, it will still be there once you are finished, turn it off”.
I’ve shut down Youtube, but I have found myself on Instagram, “Kieran get off Instagram”. Now I’m on twitter, Ed Latimore liked my tweet “Right Kieran, turn off the wifi.”
I’ve set a timer for twenty minutes, Hans Zimmer’s Time is on repeat. I’m back in the room. You have my undivided attention.
I love technology; it has enabled us to do copious amounts of nothing, but I think it’s rewired my brain. I can feel my brain-clogging up with even more useless information. It demands attention too. Your phone is a pocket-sized baby, the slightest peep and everything stops until you find out what’s wrong.
The internet and the phone has launched the war for your attention. For years I’ve been losing each consecutive battle.
Only now, through talking to myself, have I been able to wrestle some of the control back.
You’ve heard the expression “I can’t hear myself think”. You can’t hear yourself because thinking makes no sound. How do you hear your thoughts? You make a sound.
Talking to yourself is a way of holding yourself responsible. You don’t trust people who say one thing but act another way. Why would you be any different? You tell yourself that you aren’t going to eat any more rubbish yet the first slice of cake offered and your lips are frosted. You’re inconsistent.
Consistency is key
After the Korean War, they brainwashed American POWs. How did they do this? Chinese soldiers would interrogate American troops. American troops were asked to name one bad thing about America, “There is crime in the USA” and a good thing about Communism, “Under communism everyone is equal”.
They recorded this admission and played it on the loudspeaker for the rest of the POWs to hear. The person from the interrogation was now a traitor. The traitor wanted to act consistently with their words and became a traitor. They had been brainwashed.
When you talk to yourself, you’re putting it out there. On a subconscious level, you expect yourself to live up to your own standards. What’s the first step towards doing something, you say you’re going to do it.
Talk to yourself, state your aim out loud to help you focus. Say to yourself, “I’m going to focus on the work that needs to be done“. Hold yourself responsible.
You can do this, like me, in a basic way. I talk to myself to get things done. As I am reading back over this, I keep checking my phone, I say to myself “concentrate, get the work done first then you can look at your phone”. I put the phone down and get on with the work.
I’m not saying that talking to yourself will solve all the problems that you have, but it can help you focus.
Prayer and uses
You are probably thinking I’m writing like some self-help hippy, maybe but look at religion. A prayer is a personal act. Prayer is a private conversation between you and God. What if you aren’t religious, how does it look? For the non-believer, prayer is a group of people in a room talking to themselves. Another place where a group of people talk to themselves is an asylum.
For the dirty heathens, like myself, reading this, do you consider religious people mad? What separates the church from the madhouse? Just because you don’t understand the use of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
You’re not religious, that’s OK. Have you ever watched sports? You see people in groups coming together to talk to themselves in unison. My dad will shout at a TV over football. What is that if not self-talk.
You talk to yourself all the time you just don’t notice.
Self-talk can help you get out of stress.
Have you ever said to yourself “Come on now you can do this”? You’ve probably done it when hyping yourself up into doing something that made you nervous.
You don’t have to just do it for big events you can do it on a small scale too.
When you feel like giving up during work out, do like I do, “Think how fortunate you are to be able to improve your health. Not everyone can but you do. You can push yourself that little bit further. One more set and you can stop.”
You can use self-talk to remove nervous tension from your body. When your nervous your body tenses up. I noticed this during running. I get out of breath, my chest and shoulders constrict reducing my oxygen intake further. When I notice that I say to myself “Kieran all you have to do is relax your shoulders, stand up straight, take deep breathes”. It doesn’t do all the work for me, but it helps me get back on track.
You can use this to soothe yourself in an uncomfortable scenario. When you’re uncomfortable, your body takes on the shape of someone doing rigorous exercise. If you take steps to talk to yourself and consciously unstress your body, you may feel more comfortable.
Next time you’re feeling stressed out, try talking to yourself. If you’re out in public whisper to yourself.
Talking to yourself can also help you be more present.
You and I are probably future orientated, thinking about what comes next. You can miss out on great experiences by not being mentally present for them.
If you have been reading me for a while, you are aware that my grandmother died last week. Towards the end, she was incapable of being present. The times I went to visit her in the hospital all she could ask about was who was coming to visit her next.
She was incapable of appreciating those who were with her then and there. She would have benefitted from taking the time to acknowledge those who had come to see her. I know she wasn’t well, but I wish that she could get comfort from the moments that she was in rather than those yet to come.
How can you use self-talk to be more present? Simple, just talk about what’s going on around you and in you. Use me as an example, I said the following out loud:
“I’m sitting on a bench in Ormeau Park, the sun is out, but it is cool. There is a woman with a pram walking past.There are cute tiny dogs running around. I’m sad about my grandmother passing as she and I didn’t have much of a relationship with her. There’s nothing I can do about that now. I have to learn and live with my failings as a grandson.”
You owe it to yourself to enjoy your life as it happens.
You can if you American.
I was in New York in February. I noticed it’s hard to differentiate between phone users and the mentally disturbed. Both would be walking down the street having full blown conversations with themselves.
Kieran, if I start talking to myself I’ll be considered disturbed, I hear you think. You make a good point but here is where you and I disagree. The mentally disturbed person may think that they are talking to someone else. You and I are under no such illusion. You and I know we are talking to ourselves.
If you live in a small town as I do, where word travels fast I understand you may not want to. You don’t want to get that rep as the person who talks to themselves in public. Public opinion matters to many and you might be one of them, that’s fine. I don’t talk to myself in public, yet.
Talk to yourself; the response will surprise you.
I’m going to be bringing in a new section called Conversations with myself. Those posts are going to be going up every Tuesday.