The Art of Conversation

What is a thought? “The talk which the soul has with itself.” Or at least, so said Socrates to Theaetetus.

Talking to Yourself—In a Good Way

Let’s face it. If you keep a journal, whether it’s a journal of your dreams or of your waking experiences, you are talking to yourself.

But, your conversations on the page are not the deluded babblings of psychosis. Far from it. When you bring curious attention to your thoughts and dreams (which as I’ve said before are thoughts while you are asleep), you begin some of the most fruitful and empowered discussions of your life.

In his dialogue with Theaetetus, Socrates defines a thought as “the talk which the soul has with itself.” This definition works for me–for both thoughts that come to me asleep (dreams) and awake. I like that this concept joins the mundane (talk) with the mystical (soul).

But a thought alone is not necessarily productive. It is the act of thinking consciously, meaning with alert attention, that can lead us to new ideas and inspiration.

Socrates can help out here, too. He says, “[The soul] when it thinks, is merely conversing with itself, asking itself questions and answering, affirming and denying. When it has arrived at a decision, whether slowly or with a sudden bound, and is at last agreed, and is not in doubt, we call that its opinion; …”

Thinking then becomes a conversation with all parts of ourselves in pursuit of locating and creating beliefs, viewpoints, and attitudes, which in turn lead us to our intentions and actions.

And so in dreamwork, whether in conversation with one another or alone on the pages of our journals, we listen to all of the voices in our inner dialogues, question them, investigate them, and work to bring them into harmony. When we do, we experience an epiphany or insight.

So settle in with a nice cup of tea, your pen, and notebook, and prepare for a riveting conversation–with your best self.


Recommended Reading: For one of the best books I know on the topic of thinking and writing, get yourself a copy of Writing the Mind Alive, by Linda Trichter Metcalf, PhD and Tobin Simon, PhD.

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