What does the radiator think?
How to talk to yourself for perspectives and advice
Talking to yourself is supposedly the first sign of madness. I think not talking to yourself is where madness lies. Getting to know and externalising the internal ‘you’ or ‘yous’ through journaling can be profound and transformative.
There are many ways to talk to yourself through journaling, a technique called ‘dialoguing’ but today I’m just going to talk about using inanimate objects.
How it works
I can’t give you science, but I can talk about what I’ve seen and experienced myself and in the hundreds of workshops I’ve run. I think it works because you’re giving something else your voice, so it can sort of hitch a ride out of you. Somehow, it’s easier to say some things through an inanimate object. This is similar to how things are sometimes able to come out of your pen a bit easier than speaking.
What to use it for
You can write through an inanimate object just for some additional perspective on a situation or to help make a decision or solve a problem. You can also use it for general journaling; you may not know what to say, but your lamp just might.
As well as providing new insights and perspectives, this practice will give you access to tonnes of inner resources you didn’t know you had. You can nurture yourself, encourage yourself, comfort yourself. Internalised voices aren’t just available to the critics.
How to do it
You can either start by writing about a problem or decision you need to make and then ask an object to comment. Or you can go straight in and just ask for some advice or general thoughts. You can use the prompt: 'Dear [your name], I'm your [object] this is what I think...' or similar. Or you can just jump in, the main thing is that you're temporarily 'being' the object.
You can use anything - animal, mineral or vegetable, it’s all fair game. I often use this technique in my workshops and it thrills and delights pretty much every time. People are astounded at what comes out of their pen, their pot plant, their wardrobe, a clock, the stain on the carpet.
It can help for the item to be connected to the topic, for example, someone once had their pen write to them about creativity - click here for a case study - but it’s not compulsory. Again, whatever grabs your attention is best.
It’s always useful to apply free-writing rules which are:
Set a timer for five minutes so you can let go into the writing.
Keep your pen moving and follow your own emerging topic.
If you get stuck, repeat the prompt or the last two words you wrote.
If you feel resistance, annoyance or anything else, write about that.
If you bump into difficult feelings, either write about them (in detail; where is the feeling in your body, what’s the texture, colour etc.) or come back to them later when you have the support you need.
Once you’ve finished, make time to reflect on what you’ve written. Here are some general questions you can ask yourself:
What do you notice about what you wrote?
Did you miss anything obvious?
How do you feel about what you’ve written?
Is your energy different?
Are there any words or phrases calling your attention? If so, make a note of them to use for onward prompts another time.
Are there any beliefs, judgements or generalisations that need to be questioned or updated?
Taking things to the next level
As well as reviewing what you’ve written, reading it loud adds yet another dimension and can provide some really interesting insights. You can sometimes hear something you didn't notice when writing or read when reviewing.
To continue the conversation, you can write back to the object and this is where things get really interesting and you can get into the most amazing conversations, back and forth. Just make sure you give both parts of you space to say what they each need.
Other ways to talk to yourself
There are many other ways to dialogue through journaling. You can use the voice of a fictional character or perhaps a dead relative. You can speak to parts of yourself, your child, your fear, your courage etc. You can speak with parts of your body and your feelings. You can also speak from two sides of a debate, letting both sides have their say. It’s such a versatile tool, it really has no limits. See ‘Make friends with your inner critic’
Ask for help if you need it
As with all journaling, writing intentionally to/about yourself can access deeper content and you may need support. So trust yourself and what you need, be gentle with yourself and ask for help if you need it. Click here for resources that are there to help you.
This is just one aspect of the dynamic and transformational act of journaling – it’s not just about getting your feelings out or recording experiences.
If you’re new to journaling, my most important message is that there are no journaling police. People are frozen into inaction by the idea that they may not do it right. You cannot do it wrong. Back of an envelope plus anything that makes a mark on the page is all you need. It’s just about tools to help you externalise your internal landscape. If you’d like a copy of my guide, ‘Write how you like!’ give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to hear more about how I can help you or your organisation use writing to tap into your inner resources, be more resilient, support wellbeing and be more creative, do give me a shout.
Photo by u24 on Unsplash