Today’s journal prompt is from an email from Elaine: Why is it that some folks (such as myself and my son) talk so much? This visit, I am learning how I process through talking and writing. I think you do the same with writing and I love that about us. Yet, talking needs a listener and listening takes energy. So does talking. I am fascinated with my need to give a blow by blow description of my enlightenment lessons. What do you think?
Yes, I have been learning something similar about myself, in contrast to Eric.
My need for verbally exchange is SOO much greater than his. We came to the conclusion in one therapy session that my brain actually NEEDS external forms of processing … getting words out (writing or speaking), having someone listen, and getting verbal and visual reactions. Sounds like a very right-brain form of processing.
Eric, on the other hand, says that he processes things internally. Quiet time, self-reflection (without writing it, just “down time”) by taking a walk or even engaging in some relaxing activity like playing a video game. He says that he gets a clearer sense of himself, and can analyze what happened in the day, what he wants, and what to do next. It’s hard for me to believe him.
What is it about our need to be HEARD and understood by others? Is it that some people like Eric don’t have this need? Or is it a need that we ALL have, but some have it stronger than others?
I’ve asked Eric, “Are you really processing when you remove yourself from the conversation? Or, are you just distracting yourself, purposely NOT processing for awhile?” He says he is definitely processing. I want to ask him, “How do you *know* that you are processing?” because I think the answer will reveal that he is not consciously processing … he’s just taking a time-out, removing any further input and conversation, allowing himself to trust his subconscious process. Mind you, I’m not suggesting this is a BAD thing. In fact, I’m kinda jealous! I wish I could trust the quiet of my subconscious to do my processing for me. But instead, I feel that until I’ve at least spoken a statement about something, it’s only a gelatinous foggy goo of an idea.
In my podcast about the benefits and techniques for journal-writing, I often make these statements:
– “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” — Joan Didion
– “I am not writing so that I can remember it later. I’m writing so that I can remember it now.” — Field Notes
– “When I’m writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness.” — Maya Angelou
Perhaps the appropriate distinction isn’t between processing internally or externally, but rather between processing consciously or subconsciously. All of us are processing subconsciously, or so we can assume. But some people like us have a need to run things up through their consciousness also. Maybe we don’t completely trust our own intuition, and so we take it apart piece-by-piece in a conscious process like writing or conversation, in order to give it a firmer stamp of approval?
When I think of the times in my day (or in my life) when I’m not feeling “heard” — those are the toughest and loneliest times. Certainly we all have the need to be heard and understood by others, and even greater the need by those we love. A big part of my writing (and my talk-talk-talking) is motivated by the need to be heard and understood.
Elaine, you have mentioned to me before that you would write more in your blog if you FELT THERE WAS A REAL AUDIENCE, reading and perhaps responding to your posts. Doesn’t this indicate we share this trait? Our writing is simultaneously a self-reflection, and an attempt to connect with others. We write to make sense of things for ourselves, by making it available for the comprehension of others.
I suspect that ALL people (that is, all “normal” fully-functional human beings) would find catharsis, relief, and a sense of connection with others, if they had the experience of writing (and rambling aloud) that we do. This is the biggest reason I produced and published my podcast episodes. I believe that most people have not been able to cultivate a safe relationship with their writing (and rambling aloud). They are triggered by past associations (their handwriting stinks … they can’t spell … they’re crazy or not making any sense) and so they literally MISS OUT on the opportunity to feel the enormous joy of processing externally. Because if one has felt the euphoria of being understood, the lifting of the weight of isolation, why would they ever deny themselves from having that feeling ever again?