Thinking About Thinking

CMP73Purple Thinker

I noticed recently that I do this rather strange thing. I’ll think thoughts, and then I’ll restate them again as if I were speaking them. Even when I’m not speaking. Even when I’m the only one around.

It’s as if I have to “say” everything in order for me to have really thought it. That is, if I have to choose what to do, I immediately know that I have three options, about dinner for example, and what they are. But not until I articulate those options as if I were saying them aloud am I “done” and able to make the choice.

Certain that I’d noticed this phenomenon before, I went looking for it. This is how I explained it about two years ago (my apologies for it’s roughness):

for example, i do this thing where while i’m brushing my teeth or something my brain has two separate things running. one is basically what i would be saying out loud. it’s rather articulate and reasonable. and then there’s the lower level that comes up with where the articulated streaming is going to head next. and if something goes through the lower level and sounds reasonable i have to repeat it on the upper, more articulate, level. i don’t know why this is and i think it’s rather strange. i already know exactly what will come out of the more articulate string and yet i must MUST go through the act of thinking it or i may have never thought anything at all.

i think the whole thing is rather strange. and i sit there thinking about politics. and then talking to myself about politics [though usually without speaking]. and then thinking about how it’s weird that i have to say all the thoughts i have twice.

i want to know if other people do things like this. when i was pretty young and i did this is kind of made sense. because the more articulate strand would, for example, be talking to a room full of stuffed animals (they listened far better than anyone i ever knew). but now there is no room of stuffed animals getting my articulate presentation and the more articulate strand is still there.

do all people think like this? do they realize they think like this? do they think about why they think like this?

I’m now wondering, much as I was then, if this is normal. I think that it can’t be too abnormal because outwardly I seem to function nearly the same as everyone else. People seem about as fast or slow to respond as I am.

Part of the problem with this whole thing is that I have no terms to describe the phenomenon. The closest I can think of is that the lower stream is, essentially, the “subconscious,” while the repetition takes place, and translates it into the “conscious” mind. Perhaps psychologists really do use these words to mean these things, but I’ve never heard it.

I guess the whole point of this might be–and both parts of my brain are telling me I need a point–is, perhaps, how little I know. The fact is that I don’t often notice this odd dual-stream nature of my brain, even though I must assume that it’s always happening.

Perhaps, then, this whole thing is another lesson in paying attention. About how much we can notices if we just take the time to do so.


4 responses to “Thinking About Thinking”

  1. So…what’s the problem?
    I laughed when I saw the ‘related content’ links to the dog.
    Why do you figure I keep a dog? It’s camouflage!
    And I do have to tell me twice.
    If I hear myself saying something twice, then it means it has made it to the surface, and must be “my” truth.
    That ‘inner dialogue’ thing is what writers do, one of us just said to you.

  2. It’s not really a problem. Part of it’s just that I think it’s interesting. The other part is that I’m wondering if this just something that “writers” do, or if every person everywhere does this same things and doesn’t think it’s noteworthy. Because I, for one, think it’s incredibly noteworthy.

  3. I don’t know if everyone has that thinking pattern.
    I know that sometimes I have to remind myself to ‘not ignore’ what I am hearing in my head. As a person who likes to write it down, or say it out loud, if I am having to remind myself to pay attention to the conversation in my head, it makes me think that people in general just don’t hear it, or ignore it altogether.
    I wonder if we all hear the dialogue (is it a monologue?) and some fear it because they think it indicates mental illness.

    I have had a similar conversation with fellow visual artists, and we recognize that we ‘see’ and process visual information differently than the general public. Maybe it is a function of being able to express it as ‘art’ that makes artists feel ‘safe’ to ‘see’ in the fanciful way we do.

    My first comment was an attempt at ‘humor’ about my thinking process.
    Your observations are noteworthy, and an interesting topic, indeed.