How is your inner monologue treating you?
You know, that voice inside your head. The one guiding what feels like every single passing thought. Does your inner monologue respect you? Does it defend you? Does it taunt you?
Can you say with certainty that you are the captain? Can you can turn off the monologue like light switch when its time to let instincts run the show? Coincidentally, instincts are my preferred mechanism of control when the lights go off.
Everyone is different. But one of the uniquely human experiences apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our inner monologue. In fact, people who learn language late in life have reported that before their grand awakening into the realm of spoken word, they thought in terms of instincts – no inner monologue attached: “Hunger.” - “Sadness...” - “Sex!” - in the same way we imagine animals to think.
So it would be a shame, in my humble opinion, to let your inner monologue go unnoticed. It makes us special. We should not only acknowledge it ... we should celebrate it! Give your brain a cognitive high five. For better or worse, it makes you you. But just as any part of our body can atrophy with misuse, or become unhealthily saturated with simple compounds, so can our inner monologue.
Entire industries have been born around the concept of tending your mental garden. A psychologist - I am not, and medical advice - I cannot give. However, I can anecdotally share that I am a significantly happier person when I acknowledge that my brain needs maintenance.
Some pieces of advice are so common sense that we over look them on a day to day basis. Have you ever had a friend become so caught up in saving money for a vacation, that she forgets to exercise leading up to the date – only to sprain an ankle walking down a flight of stairs days before departing? She became so caught up in the external plan that she overlooked her internal details. A few stretches every day, or a light workout once a week could have saved her trip. She just forgot that staying physically healthy was important.
Well the same thing can happen with your mind. In truth I think intellectual neglect is frighteningly more common than physical neglect. Why? Because interaction with our own mind is so common (it literally happens every waking second), that most people take for granted that their inner monologue is a thing at all.
It's like walking to the store and not giving credit to your legs.
Every single thought you have - Thats your brain – or for simple demonstration, your “inner monologue”. And that thought? It was synthesized not by chance, but because of pathways you yourself established through decades and decades of stimulus. Some stimulus is external, and some external stimulus is uncontrollable. But the vast majority of things that go in your brain... they go in because you put them there. And we come to the real beauty of being human.
We get to craft our own intellectual domain – one decision at a time.
Some decisions have more weight than others. Some goals take longer to achieve than others. At different times in my life, I've been many things: severely depressed, elated, anxious, calm, outgoing, shy, angry, rude, polite, egotistical, humble, sad, joyous, defensive, cheerful, capable, fearful, confident, rebellious and cooperative. And I don't mean for a day or two - I'm talking years. Every time I changed who I was, it was because I changed my mental diet and workout routine.
Its easier than you think. Watch a show about marine biology instead of reality TV. Read a classic novel in place of playing video games on the toilet. Try to learn something new about an acquaintance rather than retreading a tired conversation with your best friend. Take a road trip to a new town. Figure out one way in which they live more efficiently than you – I promise you there's always something. Of course if you already do all of these things, then do the opposite. Variety is key to keeping a well tended mental garden. If you give your inner monologue something new to ponder over, it will be treat you nicely in return. And thats the goal right?
So... How is your inner monologue treating you?