Last modified: February 24th, 2021
Do you talk to yourself?
It’s not as weird – or detrimental – as some might have you think. I hear a lot of people, people with absolutely zero understanding of psychology, claim that talking to yourself is a sign of insanity. Really, it’s just socially awkward. It makes other people uncomfortable. And that’s if you’re doing it out loud, and at a volume that other people can hear, and if those other people are even remotely paying attention. But lots of us talk to ourselves in the privacy of our own minds, and we might not even realize that’s what we’re doing.
Specifically, I want to talk about what I call one-way relationships. There might be a professional psychology term for this, but this is what I’m going with. One-way relationships are, well, relationships, but they’re the ones in which the other party cannot talk back… or rather, can only talk back through you. I’m talking about what most people call “imaginary friends”. But I’m also talking about gods, the spirits of dead loved ones, plants in your home, and even pets to a certain degree. They’re all one-way relationships.
We assign voices and personalities to give a part of ourselves a voice. That’s why I think one-way relationships can be awesome and important: they give a voice to a part of your mind that normally doesn’t have a way to express itself. Perhaps your imaginary friend is headstrong and adventurous compared to your socially-anxious public personality – think of Tyler Durden’s character in Fight Club. Or perhaps you require closure with your deceased nana and you give her a voice that she no longer has – one of comfort and care, especially if you struggle with self-love normally.
We can interact with our one-way relationships in many ways. These days, lots of folks write fanfiction or engage in text-based roleplay as fandom characters. Some eclectic pagans collect gods from many faiths and have conversations with them, or speak to the spirits they see in crystals or plants. Many people pray. Despite the fact that 2.2 billion people follow the Judeo-Christian God, each and every one of them has a completely different idea of what He is like based on the source material that they incorporate. This is the exact same process as when someone roleplays as a fandom character: pieces of source material, opinions from other fans, and our own personal expectations, needs, wants, and opinions all come together to craft your own unique, mental version of a person. Your version of a character, or God, or a god, is completely different than your friend’s, but both are real and important to each of you.
Perhaps Anubis wants to help you consider your feelings about death. Or maybe Harry Potter has an important lesson to share with you about balancing a commitment to others versus personal fulfillment. Even an evil villain from a cartoon can help you harness your own motivation to challenge status quo. Your angel-winged rainbow wolf character from middle school may seem like a cringe-worthy thing to be forgotten, but even she has advice for you about self-expression and aspiring to be your ideal self. There is tremendous value in giving voices to your other selves. Gods often give people a sense of meaning and hope, especially around the mysteries of death. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of it, so long as you accept that it is personal and subjective to you and you alone.