Is talking to yourself in your head okay?
When you first notice the voice in your head, you may think you are talking to yourself. And you may wonder if talking to yourself is normal, or healthy. First of all, practically everyone experiences the voice in the head–you are not alone! That makes it “normal,” or common.
But a lot of things are “normal” in our society that are not healthy, beneficial, or helpful–like believing that others cause your inner mental-emotional pain. (But that’s a different, although related topic.)
Are you really talking to yourself?
However, now that you’ve noticed that these are thoughts in your head, take a little closer look, and see if you are actually doing it. Are you doing it, or are you listening along, and believing it, like you might listen to a radio broadcaster and believe him?
The main difference in the latter case, is that you don’t mistake yourself for the radio broadcaster. However, with fleeting thoughts, which have almost no substance, you can mistake them for you, (or for others, even, and that taken to the extreme is called schizophrenia,) because the thoughts say “I, me, mine,” or “you,” or “John,” or “Mom.”
But, are you really doing this, talking to yourself in your head? If you were, don’t you think you could stop? Don’t you think you could choose what the thoughts would be, and would you ever chose a painful one? Wouldn’t you know what the thought would be, before it arose? Do you? No.
It’s not just “talking to myself,” either…
It’s not just thoughts–it’s images, movies, sounds, memories of the past, stored in the mind, which can be “called-up” or recalled, but are so thin (because they are not real in this moment) that they have a passing phenomenal presence, yet don’t have a true reality, that they can co-exist with what’s actually going on (and with whomever is or is not in the room)–and they can be mistaken for what actually is.
This movie is “overlayed” upon reality.
In your head, you can “see” these images, sights, and sounds, and really believe that someone is mad at you, and become defensive, or believe that someone attacked you, and so become offensive. Meanwhile it can be completely untrue for the other person. That’s unconsciousness, and a bad waking dream. A “wakemare.”
If you put all of your powers of interest, attention, and authority into this movie in the mind, without question, it magnifies your experience of the movie, the feelings it generates, and it can appear real and true. Just like sitting in a movie theatre! You can be scared by images and sounds displayed, and thoughts a movie triggers, and completely lose track of the fact that whatever is going on on the screen is not actually going on. You swap reality for imagination. Well, until you get so scared (or elbowed) that you are jolted out of the wakemare, come to your senses, see the theatre again, and realize, it’s okay, it’s not real, it’s not happening, it’s just a movie and I am in a theatre.
Nothing is wrong with you
The mind is a wonderous, powerfully creative tool, and it is working perfectly fine. It’s job is to protect and help you, but it’s not intelligence in itself. It’s just raw, stored, inter-linked data. It’s your job, as the intelligence, to not confuse the data storage, the thoughts, images and ideas, for reality.
Thoughts or memories about self and other are not self and other, themselves, but they include the words of self and other. So that is how we can make the mistake of identifying with them, and even lose track of our identity, in thought.
To confound things, thoughts, images, feelings and memories trigger one another, and soon it can look like there’s a real conversation going on in your head. But it’s just habitual thoughts playing, like a broken record (you might notice you’ve heard the same ones over and over.)
Why do they play? Because you are interested in them. You might even confuse them for yourself or others, and then you will be real interested in them. The brain is a servant. It’s job is to serve you the thoughts that you are most interested in. And it’s brilliant at doing it.
If you quit giving thoughts–all thoughts–your interest and attention, then all thoughts will quiet down. You will still be able to access thought when you want to, but your general experience will be much more peaceful.
If you don’t like the thoughts looping in your head, do not try to get rid of them, or to control them. That is giving them more interest, more attention, and more power.
- discern, that they are just a thought,
- not what is actually going on,
- not you,
- not others,
- come to your senses, notice what you actually directly see, hear, feel, smell, taste,
- be more interested in what is, here and now,
…and you will find that they disappear on their own. Over time, the brain will swap tracks, and offer up what you have been more interested in, instead, and the unwanted ones will quit arising.
Until then, having thoughts that appear to be conversations, with yourself or others, is absolutely fine. Let them be, knowing they are unreal. What do you have to be concerned about with the unreal?
You’ve likely once mistaken a shadow for a man. Once you question this appearance, and discern the truth, what concern do you have for the man that doesn’t exist? It’s over, in an instant.
And beyond that, it never happened.
Learn to discern yourself from thought and master your mind in the…