How to Talk with yourself… and crush problems

Take time to be alone and talk to yourself

Talk with Yourself, and Listen to Yourself

Can you apply mindfulness to real-life problem solving? Some decisions are not to be taken lightly, so a bit of mindfulness can really help. In the following paragraphs I shall share a technique which, if you get into it, can make a massive difference to how you live your life. It might feel weird as it involves a good deal of talking to yourself – the first sign of madness, so they say. But I’m going to argue that, done right, it might even be the first sign of sanity.

So let’s get Practical

This is a technique that has turned up in wisdom cultures across the world; from Socrates to Baudelaire to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There are many names for such practices, but I shall use an exciting term: The Agora

Talk with yourself here and you meet the masters.
Agora in Athens. Or is it in your mind.?

Agora (Ancient Greek: ἀγορά agorá ) just means “a place for gatherings”. Way back in Ancient Greece, it was THE place to go if a citizen wanted to hear important debates, and could even vote on important state issues. You could go there with an issue, go up on stage and place whatever is bothering you in the hands of a wise council. They would then debate it in a way that you probably wouldn’t be able to do on your own. It sure beats having to talk with yourself. There are two ways to get yourself access to the Agora; the first is via a time Machine set to go back in time two thousand years, and the other is to create one in your mind. OK, so it’s an imagination exercise, but the coolest one you’ll ever do.

Allow the Giants of history, the great minds of the ages, mythical figures and fictional heroes… to argue on your behalf.

Talk with yourself... or talk with the Emperor
Discuss everything important, right here.

Here’s How to Do it.

Step One

Decide exactly who you want to discuss your issue. Let’s say we are limiting our council to five members. We then choose the best minds we can think of. You might choose, Krishnamurti, Osho, Jesus, Seneca, and Gandhi, if those names resonate with you. Alternatively you could choose fictional characters: Floki, Sherlock Holmes, The Fresh Prince of Bell Air, Brer Rabbit and King Arthur. The point is to choose characters who represent wise council to you.

reach out for human connection.
When I need the advice of my late father, sadly long gone, I bring him to the Agora with the other sages and Wise-men.

Step Two

Bring your issue to the Agora. There are two ways to do this: Written – Write our every detail of the issue that concerns you. Imagine that this email will be read by the council. Now, you can’t be lazy about this, so make sure you explain yourself well. The other way is far more amusing, although you should probably wait until you can do this in private: Spoken. Stand up and make your case out loud. It’s OK to wave your arms around, to cry and wail or to express what you need to

express in any manner that you want. Once it’s out, go silent, and visualise how your council of the wise absorb your case.

Step Three

Let them debate. Once again, you can do this in written form if the hardcore spoken-out-loud version seems just a little too off the wall. Write a reply to your issue from the point of view of each one of your wise advisors. It takes imagination, discipline and maybe even acting skills, but we all have a little of that.

But the fun way is to do it…

It isn't talking to yourself... it's acting
It means becoming an actor… for a moment

Spoken. You actively role-play each member of wise advisors. See it as a kind of therapeutic game, but you should play as seriously as you can. If you need advice from one who can talk with power and be decisive, ask yourself who embodies that the best.

Say I had chosen a character like Winston Churchill, and it was his turn to give advice; I would stand like him, gesticulate like him and even do his voice (I can do a GREAT Churchill impression) in order to embody him as best I can. In that role, I know give advice from a place of the values represented by that character. I finish up by slurring “We shall never surrender” and flashing the “V” sign before sitting down again. The advantage that this method has over the written method is that you, or any other member of the wise advisors, can interrupt.

And Why on Earth would I want to do that?

I guess that’s a reasonable question. Allow me to throw Einstein into the mix. Here’s a quote:

“We cannot solve problems with the same mind that created them”


Perhaps you have heard that quote a million billion times, and still haven’t been able to conjure up “another mind” within your own. And now you can! It is nothing short of amazing to behold when you get into it; ideas may occur to you that are completely out of the box. This technique could break you out of mental ruts, free you from procrastination, liberate you from the vice like grip… of the vices. It can even help you to assess whether or not you are living your life well.

The technique is the coolest, and it is really an extension of what is going on inside your head anyway. You do have conflicting desires and aversions, conflicting opinions and viewpoints, it’s just that most of this battle takes place below the level of consciousness. How to make it conscious: Act it out. OK, it feels strange, but do it.

-Brendan C. Clarke | CogniFit Coach

Think Before You Speak… Mindfully (

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