Talking to yourself, said my mother, is the first sign of madness.
Have you ever been told that?
Perhaps it is a further sign of madness, then, to suggest that it might be helpful to make a deliberate habit of talking to yourself. Not instead of talking to God, or others, but as a deliberate habit, focused on moving yourself into a place where you can listen better, be better, and generally draw a little closer to God, and others.
In his excellent Fresh Pathways in Prayer, pastor Julian Hardyman writes
“The old Bible commentator Matthew Henry says: ‘David is talking to himself and he is no fool that thus talks to himself and excites his own soul to that which is good’. I wonder if in Matthew Henry’s day talking to yourself was said to be a sign of madness as it is often in ours. Perhaps that is part of the background to his saying ‘he is no fool that thus talks to himself’. Or perhaps it is a way of saying, ‘it is a mark of great wisdom to talk like this to yourself.’… The gold here is in that last phrase.“
Perhaps, like me, you become so scared or bored or uninterested in what you have to say to yourself about yourself that you don’t know yourself any more. Perhaps, like me, you are conscious that staying fresh in any relationship, even and perhaps especially our relationship with God, is important. Do you need to reignite the passion you once had for God? The fire of praise and the glow of worship? What if, actually, one way to do this was to engage in a dialogue with ourselves about what really matters?
In Psalm 103, David writes (I repeat the first six verses – but would recommend reading the whole thing!)
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
David is talking to himself, reminding his inmost being of the truth about God.
If this ‘talking to yourself’ sounds appealing or interesting, as well as the perennial recommendation of the Psalms, I’d also point you towards a little book by Joe Thorn ‘Note to Self‘.