monkey mirror photoRemember when The Great Gazoo gave Fred Flintstone advice? I’ve tried to channel that inner voice and, for some reason, Gazoo has yet to appear  It’s not a bad thing, however,  because Gazoo usually gave Fred and Barney the kind of suggestions that got them into trouble.  So, instead of relying on Gazoo, I often mediate with myself. The conversations usually begin and end with “What would Nancy do?”  It’s the middle part that can be a struggle for me.

By way of example, here’s a (mostly) made-up scenario: I’ve double-booked a weekend social plan. Granted, this isn’t an earth-shattering dilemma, yet I just can’t seem to figure out how to resolve it. Or prevent it, for that matter. Do I choose the engagement I agreed upon first? What if the second offer was better? Do I tell the truth to the first guy at the risk of hurting his feelings? Do I sacrifice my Saturday night for the sake of integrity?

See what I’m doing here? I’m mediating with myself. I’m asking some tough questions and waiting for the other person (who also happens to me me) to figure it out. How’s that working? For me, talking to myself out loud, and sometimes loudly, is helpful.  It enables me to choose the right words to frame the issue, and then weigh my options.  I generally have these conversations while driving, often when I’m stuck in traffic or sitting at a seemingly endless red light.

Psychologists sometimes refer to the act of talking to yourself out loud as “feedback hypothesis.”  And talking to yourself in the third person, I’ve come to find out, is effective because it is self-distancing.  “What would Nancy do?” is a good question for me, not only because my name is Nancy, but because I’m focusing on my situation from the distanced perspective of a third person.  It may seem awkward to refer to yourself in the third person, yet it has been proven to help with problem-solving.  Studies published in various neurological journals also report that talking out loud to yourself can actually raise your I.Q.!

If you’ve never mediated with yourself and want to start now, I’d suggest you consider a situation that lends itself to rational problem-solving as opposed to creative thinking.  For example, toss out some ideas to yourself about how you’re going to organize and de-clutter your office.  Leave the brainstorming about the title to your future autobiography for another time.

If you already are on board with this concept, I’d like to know what sorts of things you mediate with yourself. If the topics are deeper than which dinner invitation to accept next Saturday night, if you’re losing sleep about a relationship that’s no longer satisfying, or you’re considering a significant job change, I urge you to share your concerns with somebody else. Somebody neutral.  Somebody who can repeat back to you what she just heard you say.  Somebody who might give you a few tools to replace the negative with the positive.

Somebody who will tell you to be grateful for two dinner invitations on the same night.