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52 Ways to Show I Love You: Imagine Talking to Yourself

Engaging in an "interior monologue" helps us better understand and express love.

Source: Javier-Rodriguez/Pixabay

Last week I wrote about the power of imagination. Imagery can provide important information about ourselves and about the relationship we share with someone we love. We can use images in the service of showing love to both ourselves and our loved one through an imagined conversation, an activity closely related to other imagery exercises.

The technique is one of the foundations of Gestalt therapy as Fritz Perls originally described it. It offers a powerful means of integrating unconscious beliefs and expectations and our (often unidentified) feelings that are associated with them. By making the unconscious conscious, we can then examine underlying dynamics and decide if it is time to change them. What better way to sustain a love relationship than by consciously deciding that a change in reaction or priorities may be in order?

What is an Interior Monologue? It can be:

  • A conversation with oneself. Personally, I often prefer to have conversations with myself through writing, literally putting questions and the answers they evoke onto the blank pages of my journal. Jules Renard noted that “writing is a way to talk without being interrupted.” But the conversations can also be conducted through imagery, as in lucid dreaming, when one imagines a back and forth with either the self or various aspects of the self. I sometimes have conversations between my “child” and my “adult,” my "brat" and my "good girl." Most writers are all too familiar with the judgmental voice of their “critic.” One author I know felt she had channeled herself as a child when writing a memoir. Identifying the sounds and nuances of your internal voices is very useful.
  • An unspoken and imagined conversation with someone else. Perls called it the “empty chair” technique. You imagine the other person sitting in a chair opposite you and carry on an imaginary conversation with that person. In a therapeutic situation, a traditional Gestalt therapist might have a client literally move back and forth between the two chairs.
  • A creation of new ways to show love, including the invention of nourishing expressions of love or solutions to challenges. Those solutions can then be tested through this virtual reality.
  • Although these techniques are designed to uncover or even to challenge unconscious assumptions, they can also be used to identify and investigate possibilities. Indeed, Hazel Markus has demonstrated the utility of exploring “possible selves,” the selves we do and do not want to be and become.
  • In a relationship, imaginary conversation techniques can be used to explore various courses of action and their possible consequences. This essential problem-solving skill is incredibly useful in helping make decisions, either alone or as a couple.

How can engaging in an internal conversation show love?

  • It can help you improve your timing in addressing a relationship conflict. You will be able to see how fully you understand the exchange you are addressing and decide whether you want to examine it more by yourself or are ready to discuss it with your partner.
  • An interior monologue can reveal thoughts and feelings you did not know you had. It can help you find ways to explore those thoughts and feelings once you are aware of having them.
  • It can help you identify when what you are thinking or feeling is being misdirected or misattributed to your loved one. You may actually be having an issue with someone else in your life or facing a disagreement with yourself that you would feel too threatened or ashamed to acknowledge directly.
  • By revealing what is really going on inside you, an interior monologue can help you accept responsibility for your role in what is going on in your relationship.
  • An interior monologue can expose your own unconscious expectations of what you think your loved one may be thinking or feeling, or about to do, or of how he or she might respond to a behavior on your part. In doing so, it helps you consider another point of view.

Why is having an internal conversation a way to show love?

  • PublicDomainePictures/Pixabay
    Source: PublicDomainePictures/Pixabay

    It helps you pause before acting and consider what you are about to do and why. A pause can encourage you to avoid escalating a misunderstanding or an argument or creating a new one.

  • A pause can also help you realize how your own reactions can amplify or disrupt the love between you. It helps you expand the well of love rather than diminish it.
  • The interior monologue can help you find language to express experiences that can be hard to put into words, or ways to show what you mean or want, without using words at all.
Source: PublicDomainePictures/Pixabay

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself in order to clarify what you are thinking? Feeling? Have you discovered connections between thoughts and feelings through this technique? Have you tried including your imagined loved one in an interior monologue? If you found that difficult, what were the stumbling blocks? What can they tell you about your own resistances?

Copyright 2017 Roni Beth Tower

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Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41(9), 954-969. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.41.9.954

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