This month’s theme is Curiosity
Recently, I read that not everyone has “inner voices”—that not everyone has a train of thought that manifests as words and sentences. Some people, it turns out, process their inner dialogue as images, feelings, concepts, rather than an actual dialogue.
Given the constant hum that is my brain, this fact is utterly incomprehensible. I cannot wrap my mind around this. I cannot fathom how this would work, like, what are thoughts if they are not a constant stream of words sloshing around my head?
It gets me thinking, though: what’s the chicken and what’s the egg?
Are those of us with intense inner monologues and dialogues giving voice and words to the concepts? Or are those without those inner voices rising above the need for words and achieving some higher level of understanding within their own brains?
I can’t help but think how freeing it sounds to not have this constant cacophony in my brain. When I lie awake in the morning, before I’m out of bed but after I know it’s time to get up, I can almost see my thoughts in front of me like subtitles on a film. They are absolutely, without a doubt, words. Feelings are conjured from these words, but what I grasp onto, what I listen to, are the words.
Would thinking in conceptual forms make it easier or harder to dissociate from thoughts, to not be so critical of myself? Because, more often than I’d like to admit, the thoughts that scroll across my skull are not particularly nice. They criticize, they remind me that there’s that one more thing still to do when I want to take a moment to celebrate, they tell me I’m too inexperienced, not good enough, not the right person.
I try to view this inner monologue with curiosity: Why is my inner critic so strong in this moment? What is it trying to protect me from? What is it afraid of? Does it have evidence of all the terrible things it’s saying to me? How would I rephrase what it’s saying in language I’d use to talk to a friend, rather than this insulting, judgmental tone?
If I ask this inner critic, “What are you trying to say,” and really listen, I hear its fear, its desire to protect me from failure and rejection, and I can say to the voice, “Thank you for trying to protect me, but I’ve got this.”
What is the “inner critic” part of the brain, if not a string of judgmental words?
What if I just had an image, a sense of something without words, without a name? I don’t know—maybe someone who’s reading this can comment about how they can have this internal dialogue, this understanding, this sense that they don’t need to believe what they think at all times.
How do you have a relationship with this critic, how do you know what to believe and not believe if there aren’t these words associated with thoughts? Does it make it easier or harder to dissociate? Would it mean anxiety and depression aren’t as common?
As freeing as it might seem to be free of the constant stream of consciousness on a ticker scrolling across the inside of my skull, maybe instead it allows me more tools to stop the train of thought, turn it down, mute it, close my eyes to not see it.
Thought it would be nice to turn off the subtitles every now and then.
How are you curious in your day-to-day life? Comment below or on my Facebook page.