Why I Talk to Myself
Learn How to Manage Your Emotions
By Valkyrie Holmes
In today’s article, we’ll be discussing why I’m constantly being stared at on my walks or questioned about my phone storage and the reason for that is plain and simple: I talk to myself on a regular basis.
That sounds like a recipe for disaster and a quick call to an insane asylum so let me elaborate. Since August of 2020, I’ve been recording myself speaking. It all started on my walks with an initial emphasis on losing weight and finding my confidence and has since transformed into working through my problems and documenting realizations I’ve had in the last year. You can listen to my initial recordings on my podcast “you’re not special”.
But I won’t be talking in-depth about those recordings today. Today is all about why I do it, my journey with it, and how I use it now. It’s kind of a cool reflection piece to kick us into the new year and do some digging into the things I used to say and how I used to feel.
THE START OF SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL
Like I said, it was some night in August 2020 when I was on a walk and decided to pull out my voice memos on my phone and press play. I just started talking and while the recording only lasted for ten minutes, I could feel a weight being lifted off my chest. I felt as though I was truly starting something that would last for a lifetime but didn’t know that I was really just breaking down my walls. I finally had an outlet that I didn’t think would judge or criticize me. I had someone I could talk to that understood what I was feeling or at least was trying to: me.
From that day on, I would record every one or two weeks, never planning anything out but just recording when I felt like I needed it. I remember walking for hours and pulling out my phone and just talking for minutes at a time and getting home and pretending like I hadn’t just been crying out of self-hatred or doubt or anger. It was an emotional time but it was a necessary time.
I’ve told you about the time I first started doing it, but what’s the thing that made me keep going?
I’ve learned, especially in the last year, that we have so many things going on in our brains, more than we can even comprehend. From thoughts to memories to instances and feelings that you want to remember but are only there for a second. There’s so much going on at once to the point where it’s impossible to keep it all contained. That’s why you need a medium to expel some of those things.
Lots of people enjoy journaling and I did for a long time. I journaled from the time I was in fourth grade to the middle of seventh, keeping a book for each month and writing in it every day. I eventually lost touch with the art and in turn, lost touch with something that I used to consistently document my feelings. I wouldn’t return to anything like this until the 2020 summer.
I think the reason why voice recording stuck with me was that I feel like there are so many things I’m feeling and thinking that I couldn’t just slow down and write everything. I simply don’t move my hand fast enough and when I do, there’s no way I’m reading it. Talking out loud helped me hear it, conceptualize it, and embrace it in a way that writing it down never did. I could hear myself working through the problems I had, working through the feelings, and figuring out why I felt the way I did. Developing various coping methods for stress and anxiety and coming up with plans to execute.
I think above all else: it was fun. It was cool to be able to listen back to some of my recordings and reason with myself and speak it into existence. I have a rule that I use that basically says “if it doesn’t exist outside of your mind, it doesn’t exist at all”. I can think that I’m sad and think I know why, but until I write it or speak it or do something that brings it out into the world, I will never truly know why I’m sad or even if I’m really sad in the first place. There have been times that I thought I was angry and was really just disappointed or maybe someone made me feel some type of way and I figured out that no, I was just craving someone’s affection and it was making me think differently. There were so many things that could have been affecting my emotions and I wouldn’t have known about them if I didn’t start talking.
HOW IT WORKS
Now, of course, I don’t do this with other people in the room or anything. What am I, insane?
I would do it on walks or in my room by myself or even in the bathroom. Anywhere where I could be alone with my thoughts and reason through them. There have been a lot of instances where I just pull out my phone during a car ride, set it on the seat next to me, and practically scream out what I’m feeling. Probably not the best advice but you see what I mean: you can do it practically anywhere.
I distinctly remember getting in my car from a meetup with some friends and this boy said something that really irked me. I got in my car and was actually irritated and could tell that I was keeping it bottled up. So instead of listening to music, I put my recorder on the seat and talked the entire fifteen-minute car ride home. And once I got home, I was no longer sad. I wasn’t even irritated in the slightest. It was like it had never happened. I got into the house feeling the same, if not better than when I left. What a wonder fifteen minutes with yourself can do.
Things like that are so powerful. This ability to get in touch with yourself and really feel that emotion and not only feel it but be able to look at it from an outside perspective and get to the bottom of it. That’s another thing recording really helps with. There’s this thing I like to call the “Two Time Rule”. Think about this: when you meet someone for the first time at a conference or business meeting, you really hit it off and exchange information. There’s no guarantee that you’ll see them again and that’s pretty standard practice for most people right? But that first meeting means nothing. Until you get that second meeting.
The second meeting is when the ball starts rolling. You can start to get creative, learn a bit more about each other, maybe even do business. That second meeting means everything, the second time you meet someone is where the magic really starts. It’s the same thing with recording.
You hear yourself the first time you speak. You work out something and you’re feeling good about it and that’s great. But it’s when you listen back that you actually begin to understand what you just went through and how to tackle it again next time. That second time is crucial for understanding and reasoning with yourself and it’s something that I will never skip out on.
Now I get questions from people saying, “Why don’t you just talk to other people? Why not just phone a friend when you’re feeling a type of way?” My first response to that is: how many people do you know that you’d be completely comfortable with them hearing every single thought and feeling that you experience in a time of grief? How many people would that be? Okay, for most people, that number is really low but also think about this, if you rely on someone else to be there every time you’re feeling sad, what happens when they’re not available? Do you hold it in? Do you explode?
There’s something special about speaking with yourself. You are the only person with yourself 100% of the time and that’s why it works. You know what events led up to this point and can analyze them without any foreign influence. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to get advice from friends when you really need it, but on a regular basis, you should be learning to guide your emotions from a chaotic state to a more solid one.
HOW YOU CAN START
Now I know I talked a lot about how I started talking to myself and what the benefits are but now I’d like to outline exactly how you can start doing it for yourself. Here’s a basic outline of what I do:
1. What am I feeling right now?
2. Has this happened before?
3. Can this be fixed right away?
4. What can I do differently next time?
These questions seem pretty juvenile but you’d be surprised how much they can change your entire perspective. Let’s say you leave a family gathering and you’re visibly upset. Start with the first question. What are you actually feeling? You may think you’re mad but really, is it exhaustion? Is it annoyance? Is it something deeper? Talk it out and figure out what the feeling really is.
This is where you go over the day or event in detail and try to figure out what caused that emotion in the first place. It could be multiple events or one single thing that irked you but whatever it is, you want to know. This can take a little bit of time to actually work through the emotions associated with the day but it’s super important in learning how to deal with emotions faster and recognize events and how they’ve made you feel in the past. If you know you always end up feeling sad with a certain group of people or when you go to a certain place, then it helps to know these things.
That brings me to my next question: Has this happened before? When you first start, you may not recognize it at first but as you slowly accumulate information about your emotions, it’ll become easier to recognize. But you want to keep asking this question → super important for pattern recognition and it takes us back to the first question!
The third question is “Can this be fixed right away?” This is also really crucial to analyze how you feel. If it’s a feeling that can be solved with a quick chat or hang out with friends or even just a relaxing time, you can figure that out a lot quicker than some of the deeper emotions that take a lot of self-reflection to fix. For example, I’ve been having a crisis about love recently. I’m moving around a lot and dedicated to my career but still want that special someone, like I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. But I know that something like that can’t be fixed right away. I need to come up with ways to take my mind off of it to remedy that emotion and stay focused. But if I’m upset the whole day about hitting my elbow the moment I get up, that can be fixed with a nice relaxing thirty-minute read.
That’s also not to say I talk to myself about the small things. Sometimes it’s obvious why you’re mad or irritated. In those instances, it still helps to have these questions in your back pocket. If you need to quickly run through them in your mind, it helps reassure you that everything is going to be alright.
Now we come to the last question: What can I do differently next time? This is where all the patterns come in and you decide how to go about it. This can be the most difficult part for most people, and I know it is for me. I’m someone who wants everything to just work out right away and be fixed instantly but through this process, I’ve come to terms with the fact that sometimes, there isn’t much you can do. I also know that I’m a teenager and I’m growing into my body and my mind and it can be confusing sometimes. But that’s all okay and we have to come to terms with the fact that it’s all okay.
This is kind of the basic framework that I use almost every time I decide to speak to myself or analyze a situation. I hope it helps even one person like it’s helped me. Let me know how it works for you in the comments down below!