March 15, 2012
When you're reviewing conversations that you had with other people, or thinking about conversations that you will have with them, who are you talking to? In your mind, you're having a conversation with the other person, but in reality, everything that they “say” and “do” is being projected by your mind. This is self-evident and with the exception of those who may be delusional, most people would agree that they are creating all of the “conversations” that occur in their own minds.
We all engage in these types of conversations and there's nothing out of the ordinary about this. This type of mental activity is evidence of the helping nature of the mind. As I have previously discussed, the mind is always looking for puzzles to solve and ways to help improve our situation. Internal dialoguing only becomes an issue for someone when they lose their perspective and get swept away in their own mind flow.
If your internal dialoguing is causing you to experience feelings of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, rapid shallow breathing, sweating or nervousness, it may help you to remind yourself of the process in which you are engaging–at the moment that you are doing it. Most people tend to accept internal dialogue as part of everyday life. As I mentioned, there's nothing out of the ordinary about having internal dialogue. Sometimes; however, internal dialoguing can result in a decrease in the quality of our current experience by distracting us from our “real-time” life.
Becoming aware of the quantity and the quality of our internal dialogue is an important first step to improving the overall quality of your life experience. A very simple action, and something that anyone can do at any time, is to identify when you are having internal dialogue by pausing to take note. All you need to do is say to yourself “I'm dialoguing with myself." There is no judgment in this statement. The purpose is to simply identify your current state and bring it to your attention in an objective way.
By using the statement “I'm dialoguing with myself” you create the opportunity to examine your own thinking, as if you were a third party observing the conversation between two other people (you, and the person you're “talking” to). From this perspective, you may gain insight into the nature of the “conversation.”
If your internal dialoguing is bringing about feelings of anxiety, you could simply decide to stop. If you're like most people, your internal dialogue is probably somewhat repetitive and you tend to have the same or similar conversations with the same people about the same issues. If there is an issue that is ongoing, say between you and someone you work with, and you are engaging in repetitive internal dialoguing with the hopes of finding an acceptable solution, you may wish to take a different approach. Since internal dialoguing is actually a conversation with yourself, it stands to reason that you may never find resolution because the conversation is completely one-sided and does not actually involve the other party, with whom you are working. To move forward, it's likely the case that you will need to address the issue directly with the other person rather than exclusively within your own mind. In the meantime, it may help to reduce the amount of time that you spend engaged in internal dialogue.
The simple act of identifying a process, such as dialoguing, can have profound and positive effects on your general sense of wellbeing, freeing up valuable mental ‘real estate’ that can be used for more productive and positive experiences. One of the most enjoyable experiences that could take the place of internal dialoguing is to notice the sensation of being alive from within your own body. Focusing on “the evidence of life," such as your breathing, heartbeat, physical sensations and everything that you experience through your senses, can be a wondrous and enjoyable experience. You do not have to “do” anything to experience the wonder and beauty of life. All you have to do is pay attention to what is.
When we clear away the clutter from our mind, stepping out of our ‘mind flow’ long enough to stand at the bank of the river, and stop trying to make our lives happen by using our minds, we increase the potential for noticing and acknowledging our true nature, which is poised at the edge of evolution. It's ironic that many of us seem to be under the impression that we can think our way out of the problems of thinking! Having access to a resource such as the human mind is an amazing gift, but sometimes the solution to the problems of thinking can be so simple, they tend to be overlooked or undervalued.
Life is not complicated, nor is it meant to cause anxiety or suffering. Those states generally exist in the domain of thought. The next time you are over thinking, having internal dialogues and feeling swept away in the flow of your own thoughts, pause to notice this with an objective statement. You may even find it useful to say it out loud. “I'm talking to myself.” or “I'm having an internal dialogue.” From a place of objectivity, you can choose to take a different path. Try it and see what happens.