In demanding times and busy lives, people often complain of not having enough energy. The benefits from conventional list of remedies such as exercise, a new diet, nutritional supplements, expensive trips, spas, shopping, etc. are often short lived. Going for a holiday, doing something exciting or discovering a new activity is necessary and revitalizing, however, if we do not pay attention to some of our habits that drain and deplete our energy, we stumble right back into feeling tired and fatigued. Involuntary inner dialogue is one such habit that saps vital energy.
What is Involuntary Inner Dialogue?
Can you think of a time when you had a difference of opinion with someone? Perhaps both of you strongly believed in your side of the story and defended it fervently. Imagine you experience a disagreement with John. John could be your boss / colleague / client / spouse or any person. In such instances one’s mind gets fixated. It endlessly pictures the incident over and over again in the car, at work, at lunch, at home, in bed and perhaps all day long like a song that is stuck in one’s head. Leaving us exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically.
We further energize these images through a dialogue with John, in our head, as if he was really there. We ask questions, invent arguments and reply on his behalf. We then refute, disprove, disagree, produce counter arguments and maintain the illusory conversation spinning. These are all fabrications of a busy mind. We are tricked and charmed by involuntary inner dialogue. We mechanically use this as a technique or role-play to solve a problem, unaware of its unwanted impact on draining our energy and on our well-being.
“ But I know there is no John there. It is a technique through which to solve a problem. It simply is a strategy, a role playing to find a solution”, you may say.
Let’s look deeper, if it simply were a self-managed strategy, a role-play of some sort, why then it influences us negatively? If we control it, why can’t we then turn it off and fall asleep at will? If only a technique, why does it makes us tense, unsettled, frustrated, sad and we lose sleep over it? If simply a deliberate strategy on our part, why one manifests the reactions associated with real danger such as; muscle contraction to fight/flight, increase in blood pressure, backache, emotional eating/drinking, inability to focus, irritability, insomnia etc? Automatic inner dialogue, not only does not facilitate understanding or resolve misperceptions, it can become a source of agony that dissipates tremendous precious energy and dulls the mind. It blocks problem solving.
How does it affect our well-being?
Automatic inner dialogue, not only does not facilitate understanding or resolve misperceptions, it can become a source of agony and dissipate tremendous precious energy and dull the mind. It blocks problem solving and contributes to irritability, frustration, inability to focus and possibly restless sleep.
What to do the next time you caught yourself in this habit?
Consider the following suggestions:
put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see the situation from his/her point of view
Ask to meet with him/her to discuss and resolve your differences amicably
If you can, put the situation in the bigger scheme of things (what would this mean to me 5, 10 or 20 years from now?) and if you think this is something that is not very important, and you are capable of it — decide to let it go
The involuntary inner dialogue is addictive. The more we indulge in it, the more power it has over us. It can become so repetitive and automatic that it takes over our attention without us being aware of it.