I have come from a family that habitually talks to themselves throughout the day. Not in the ‘Stay away from the crazy lady, Billy’ kind of way but more in the way that you constantly had to ask if they were talking to you. As a kid, I didn’t really understand why we did it nor did I truly care. It just seemed like that was what everyone did. As I got a little older and I would speak to myself in front of classmates or teachers while working, I would get sideways glances or the constant, ‘Who are you talking to?’ question that bewildered me for years. In boot camp, the habit was forcibly removed by a drill instructor who made me talk to a fire extinguisher until it would talk back, which luckily it never did. Today, as I mumbled to myself while completing some tasks at work, I was struck with the question that I never really considered: Why the heck do I do this?
The first reason, and likely the most obvious, is because I was taught to do this by mimicking my parents. I’m not really sure if my dad did this, but I am sure that both my mother and grandmother did, and still do, of which whom I take after the most. Thinking back, I can remember my grandmother fiddling about in the kitchen rattling off random things to herself as she prepared apple pies or large family meals. I can remember my mother walking back and forth in the living room preparing for a Stampin’ Up party passionately arguing with herself about how to set up the projects she had in store for the attendees. I can remember both of them while driving speaking to the other drivers, who obviously could not hear them, as they felt slighted by some slight irregardless of the looks they received from their passengers. Watch and repeat is the most common way to learn a habit. This does not answer the question of ‘why’ though.
I suppose it could be a useless thing that I kept after watching for years, like how both my mother and I twist our hair compulsively when nervous or bored or how my father and I scratch at the outside of our thumbs when our hands are passive or idle, but I think that this has more of a utility that I am disregarding. Watching myself talk to myself (note the redundancy) I considered that I tend to do it when trying to recall some information or when my mind is not focusing in the way I want it to. So maybe this strange habit has some utility after all. Maybe I use it as a style of scope to focus myself in the right direction and maybe I can turn a strange and sometimes awkward habit into a tool to help me start moving myself in the right direction.
So this leads me to my purpose on why I wanted to ponder this perplexing point: Why can’t I tell myself to do the things I want to do? Thus I come to the negotiating part of this discussion. It seems as though I am completely unable to negotiate with myself. The common tactic to motivate myself in the past was, do this and you’ll get rewarded. Like, do the dishes then you can have a cigarette. That worked well when I had the addictive motivation pushing me to complete my tasks, but has fallen out of favor now that I (luckily) quit. Also, it is slightly difficult when what I really want is outside of even my own knowledge. I guess that circles me back to the talking to myself point. I need to have a true conversation with the part of me, the chaotic part, that wants me to want. I need to look at my motivations and figure out how to direct them into something that I really want to have. So I am going to ask myself a question that is difficult to answer.
What do I want?
Not what will make me happy, not what do I need, not what am I responsible for or to, but what do I want? All the rest of those questions need to fall into line with the previous, but I suppose the want needs to be shaped around the need and responsibility. Being neurotic as I am, this should be a fun internal conversation.
Joke of the day:
I just flew in and man are my arms tired!