While some listen to their inner voice and non-verbal thoughts throughout the day, others hear nothing at all and spend their day filling the silence by speaking out loud.
The phenomenon of inner monologues has recently been brought up in conversations on a variety of social media platforms discussing the idea of some people having an inner monologue and some having none.
Let’s explore both sides of the phenomenon and imagine what life would be like with or without having a constant conversation with oneself. We will also touch on the psychology behind the reason people have an inner monologue and their personal experiences living with or without one. As a reader, you will have a chance to interact with this phenomenon by reflecting on your own thought tendencies and exploring how others live differently within their own mind.
Just as children learn how to speak using their voice during social interaction, adults learn to speak to themselves through practice using their own internal voice. Inner dialogue is an internalized form of speaking out loud that can be improved through practice. A person’s stream of consciousness or thoughts and conscious reactions to events is referred to in many other ways including verbal thinking, inner speaking, covert self-talk, internal monologue, and internal dialogue.
Research conducted by Bernard Baars, a leading Dutch neurobiologist, concluded in 2003 that when people reflect upon their own inner experience, they often report a verbal quality to their reflection. Researchers Dolcos & Albarracín’s findings in 2014 showed that people often talk to themselves using the first‐person pronoun. It has also been found that people with ADHD tend to have reduced inner-voice activity, or the ability to consciously talk to themselves within their own mind. They, therefore, tend to speak out loud more often to sort out their own thoughts.
“Human beings talk to themselves every moment of the waking day. Most readers of this sentence are doing it now,” said Baars.
Though this may be true in some cases, some have argued that it depends more on the situation than the natural cognition of the individual. People have posted comments to this on social media forums such as Reddit.
“Both extremes occur in ADHD, and even occur in the same person. Different environments can be overstimulated. It’s hard to be in your own head, while other environments are so under stimulating, that [your inner conversations] remain in your own head.”
Take into consideration the idea that you are somehow not in control of your own thoughts. That calling them an inner monologue is an embellished way of referencing the phenomenon that your brain has more power than you do over your own thoughts. That they wash over you in forms that you don’t truly recognize or even understand.
Now think about what life is like to live with these thoughts essentially occurring all the time…it can feel unsettling, to say the least. Some see inner dialogue as enabling the incorporation of self-empathy in one’s daily life. The ongoing conscious conversation is something that has aided many in self-reflection and self-motivation.
On the other hand, imagine life lacking this inner experience. Everything thought of and discussed with yourself is shared with the outside world. Everyone is constantly aware of your thoughts and opinions because you have no choice but to share them. While some have non-verbal thoughts presented abstractly that have to be consciously verbalized to be made sense of, others hear nothing at all. These people could be described as visual thinkers. Though this constant conversation is held in the minds of many, it is not maintained by everyone. A comment was made by someone with no inner monologue about life lacking this inner conversation:
“I kind of feel like I would be on top of everything in life if I could have these conversations with myself unimpeded.”
Though many do experience inner dialogue all the time, others only experience it occasionally, and then there are some who don’t experience it at all. As we have covered the benefits and negatives of inner dialogue, there has been no conclusion of whether inner dialogue is detrimental or helpful in a person’s life. This debate is an ongoing conversation that is dependant on each person and their relative lifestyle.
Let’s dive into the strategies people use when managing and remaining aware of their internal dialogue.
Meditation can help you become more in tune with your thoughts and even organize your wandering mind.
Self-awareness can also be a way to explore thoughts and attitude tendencies. Whether you tend to think more positively or negatively and whether you mainly think about the past, present, or future.
Exploring the motivation that you consider as the reasoning behind your actions can strengthen your actions and help motivate others to support your cause.
Gratitude and mindfulness can also be helpful tools when it comes to managing one’s internal dialogue.
Internal monologues can become self-detrimental if they are solely negatively themed. Actively changing what you are thinking about or how you are thinking it, takes practice but can be beneficial to your mood and mental state. When a negative conversation begins to form in your mind, one way to convert it to something positive is by focusing on something good about that topic or even switching the topic to something completely different.
This phenomenon of inner monologues could essentially mean that as sentient beings, a large amount of our existence is happening without ever entering our consciousness. It is important to keep in mind that everyone is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. As though many things that occur in our lives, pass by use without even catching our attention. All people’s lives are unique, strange, chaotic, and complex, just like your own. Holding on to this feeling of sonder can help you manage and remain aware of your internal dialogue or lack of one. The constant reminder of this could alter the way we all perceive the world as we know it.
The Devastating Side of Fast Fashion
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion is cheap, mass-produced clothing that is often made trendy by celebrities and fashion designers. Retailers such as H&M, Forever21, Zara, Gap, Fashion Nova and Topshop are some of the most popular fast fashion brands although there are various others just in the U.S. Prices at these retail stores are low, which is part of the problem with fast fashion. If you buy a five-dollar shirt, you are likely to dispose of it more quickly than if the shirt is $25. This is because we tend to see cheap clothes as disposable. Over half of fast fashion pieces are thrown away in less than a year.
Environmental Effects of Fast Fashion
Teens and other shoppers sometimes don’t think twice about where their clothes are coming from or if the brands they shop are sustainable. But fast fashion comes at a price, and the environment is paying for it.
The fashion industry produces around 8% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. And the production of clothing requires a lot of water. Making a single cotton shirt requires 455 gallons (1,750 liters) of water, and one pair of jeans requires 780 gallons (3,000 liters). This has damaging effects on the environment, especially when so many of these clothing items are barely used.
The fabric the clothing is made out of is a source of many environmental issues. Over 60% of materials are synthetic, which means that when this fabric ends up in landfills, it will not break down. And unfortunately, around 85% of textile waste ends up in landfills in the U.S.
Mass Production of Clothing
Environmental sustainability isn’t the only concern when it comes to fast fashion. The production of the clothing is unethical. Garment workers are paid very low wages and typically suffer from hazardous working conditions. Many of these workers are located in developing countries that have low minimum wages. In Bangladesh, women who work in clothing factories often work upwards of 12 hours a day. They are paid minimum wage, which in Bangladesh is $68 a month, an insufficient salary.
Fast fashion brands are choosing to sell cheap, mass-produced clothing and to pay workers the lowest possible wage. If wages are “too high” in one country, fashion companies will sometimes hire their workers in a different country with lower wages. Garment workers are not paid for the true value of their labor.
The Popularization of Fast Fashion
Social media culture has popularized fast fashion to the point where it is now the new norm. Influencers and celebrities will post a picture in an outfit and then are never seen wearing that outfit again, normalizing the idea that you can’t be seen wearing the same clothes twice. I think many teenagers have learned from these influencers that they idolize, and these teens are contributing to fast fashion without necessarily knowing.
Fast fashion is also being popularized by trends. There is a quick turnover in trends, and many stores keep up with trends by coming out with new collections every week. With each season, there are new “must-have” items, and our society has become accustomed to buying new clothes each season. The average consumer purchases 60% more clothing nowadays compared with15 years ago. In order to combat the culture of fast fashion, we as consumers must start changing our habits.
How to do Your Part in Saving the Earth
- Educate yourself about sustainable fashion brands.
There are many companies that are ethical and have fair trade products. These brands are eco-friendly, which sometimes means they are more pricey. But remember, you are less likely to get rid of more expensive clothing quickly.
- Buy secondhand clothing.
Find a local thrift store to shop at. Or shop secondhand items from home. For example, Depop is a popular app where you can buy used clothing. This is a cheaper option than many sustainable brands but still helps the environment by reducing textile waste. It’s also a great option if you are a college student on a budget.
- Donate, reuse or sell old clothes.
Rather than throwing away old clothing, donate it to your local charity or Goodwill store. It is also very beneficial to reuse old clothing. You can turn the pants you’ve grown out of into shorts, or make old shirts into dust rags. There’s almost always another use for your old clothing. Even selling old clothes on Depop, for example, is a good way for clothing to be reused and for making a little money.
- Don’t overwash your clothing.
Obviously, it is important to do laundry and wash your clothes, but there is such a thing as overwashing. When you wash clothing too frequently, it shortens its lifespan by shrinking or fading the clothes. This often causes the clothing to end up in a landfill far too soon. Overwashing also breaks down fibers of synthetic materials into microfibers that can end up in oceans. This can have detrimental effects on the environment, specifically on marine life.
By changing our shopping habits and being aware of the dangers of fast fashion, we can reduce fast fashion’s negative impacts.
Are Plant-Based Diets The Future or a Thing of The Past?
Sticking to a plant-based diet is a thing that people have always done, but recently has made a comeback as a popular lifestyle choice. People on plant-based diets eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, tubers, grains, and seeds, or concoctions that consist of one or more of those ingredients. You will not see people on these diets eating that much meat, such as beef, poultry, and fish, nor eggs or dairy, however, these foods are not always given up completely.
Plant-based diets have existed and been followed for a very long time for various reasons. While some people decide to stop eating animals for moral reasons, others live by a plant-based diet because of the many health benefits. Different forms of plant-based diets include being vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, fruitarian, and flexitarian, which allows for the consumption of some meat and dairy.
Just because someone decides to live a plant-based lifestyle does not mean they have to give up eating meat or dairy completely. Most plant-based diets are flexible in the sense that you will not be breaking any rules if you eat a piece of meat here and there. Eating plant-based is more of a mindset in which one prioritizes eating plant-derived foods rather than eating mostly meat, fish, or dairy. A whole-food diet is a diet where people eat foods that are as close to their natural state as they can be, staying away from all processed foods, added sugars, and unnatural chemicals.
A popular plant-based diet is called the whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, which consists of elements of both a plant-based diet as well as a whole-foods diet where a person does not eat any processed foods, artificial sweeteners, added sugars, refined grains, or hydrogenated oils. The WFPB diet also recommends people stick to eating mostly whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Are Plant-Based Diets Beneficial?
There are many studies and claims saying that eating a strictly plant-based diet is in many ways incredibly beneficial for people’s health. These studies say that some benefits of this diet can include, lower total cholesterol, lower risk of developing type two diabetes, improved cardiovascular health, improved glycemic control, loss of weight if needed, protection from various forms of cancer, improved neurocognitive function, and prevention and management of Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology published a study in 2017 that looked at the effects of a fully conformant WFPB diet and compared them to the effects of someone on a plant-based diet but also ate processed foods. The results showed that people on WFPB diets were much less likely to have any sort of heart disease, while a plant-based diet that still includes processed food actually increases the overall risk of heart disease. More research that has been done over time has shown that sticking to a WFPB diet can also possibly decrease a person’s requirement for certain medications such as statins, medication for blood pressure, and various diabetes drugs.
Even though there are many potential benefits of a plant-based diet, there have also been studies that show the opposite, claiming that plant-based diets can be more detrimental to someone’s health than beneficial.
“A plant-based diet sounds like it’d be inherently healthy, but that’s not always the case. Refined grains, added sugars, and vegan fast-food are all plant-based—but not the healthiest. Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and some proteins make for more nutritionally sound choices,” Dietitian Nutritionist Kelly Plowe said.
Ensuring that you stick to the right diet that isn’t only plant-based but also naturally healthy is essential in getting the proper benefits that a plant-based diet can lead to.
Some downsides of following a WFPB diet include the fact that like any diet, it becomes an obligation to pay more attention when preparing and planning what you are going to eat, as it is hard to constantly find affordable healthy foods that are not processed. Also, once meat has been omitted from a diet, it becomes a challenge to consume the amount of protein and other nutrients that are recommended and required to survive.
People who follow these diets need to ensure that they eat enough protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12. It is true that eating a plant-based diet can potentially lead to a lower intake of necessary daily nutrients. However, if the proper time and effort are put into meal planning, eating the right nutrients should not be a huge problem for most people who want to stick to WFPB or any plant-based diet.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has dietary guidelines that include recommendations on what foods to eat to maintain a healthy plant-based diet that still includes a bit of meat. Some of the foods that the USDA mentions include vegetables, dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, and green beans. Fruits, berries, grains, oats lean meats such as chicken breast, fish, or turkey breast. Beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, dairy such as milk and cheese, as well as natural oils are also on the list.
While not eating meat and dairy technically does not meet the USDA guidelines of a healthy, well-balanced diet, it has been shown and proven that with the right planning, it is absolutely possible to take in everything necessary in order to continue to thrive by following a plant-based diet.
Pounds over Promise: The Cycle of Diet Culture and New Years Resolutions
At the start of a new year, everyone wants to start fresh. A few new styles, some changes to the daily routine, and sometimes, a big resolution. A very popular New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. How to do it? There are answers everywhere! Scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, there’s bound to be someone talking about a new diet they’re trying. Influencers have been infamous for peddling dangerous diets to fanbases of young women and girls. Even mothers are not free from their reach. Bloggers like lonijane on Instagram showed how her body looked before and after cheating on her vegan diet. The combination of New Year’s resolutions and these various diets is a recipe for disaster. Diet culture around the first month of the New Year is intense and even dangerous.
What is “diet culture”?
Diet culture is described as a desire to lose weight at all costs, and puts losing weight over wellbeing. It is a combination of advertisements and what the advertisements make us feel. The feelings of inferiority or discomfort with your body are precisely what the industry feeds off of. Whether it’s a new diet every week, or even directly associating worth with weight, it is hard to escape.
Especially around the start of the New Year, diet culture is pervasive. Even on January 1, it’s been shown that topics surrounding dieting and exercise spike in search volume. Some particularly cruel advertisements from gyms feed into a sense of inferiority and reap the profits. In 2017, about 10.8% of subscriptions to over 6,400 gyms happened in January. The nature of what a diet should be is also constantly changing: keto, juice cleanses, the baby food diet, paleo… reading through the advertisements is enough to give someone whiplash.
Impact of influencers on diet culture
The advertisements don’t only come from the corporations— or not directly. Influencers are a major way for corporations to boost their product. Ads are nothing new, but the personal nature of Instagram, where people will also post parts of their life, is something different. What’s especially worrisome is that these influencers often have a huge following of minors, intentionally or not. More than one-third of teenagers in Germany aged 14 to 17 deliberately seek out influencers. Over 84% of the content from female influencers is related to health, diet, and fitness. Attractive and uniform, they promote a singular way of living and looking. It’s easy and profitable for them to do it that way. The issue is that there are a wide variety of bodies that exist. There is no “one size fits all” for health. Allergies, chronic conditions, and genes are all important factors.
How might influencers impact young people later in life, girls especially, as they can closely control their diet?
Guilty over existence
There are worries about “quarantine pounds”, as people have been stuck inside due to COVID-19. Nutritionists are worried that individuals will be more susceptible to weight loss advertisements. The guilt over quarantine pounds stack up, on top of the pre-existing guilt instilled by advertisements.
A poignant way that advertisers promote body shame is “before and after” shots. To show the efficacy of their product or program, diet companies will show the amount of weight lost after using their product. These pictures directly associate the “before” picture with bad or undesirable. People with these bodies are being shamed, and repeatedly seeing those images will have a lasting impression. Especially at the start of the year, when seeing one’s stomach after holiday meals, insecurity digs in.
These insecurities start young, but it’s not only by influencers. A study of mother-daughter pairs showed that daughters of dieting moms would start dieting before they were eleven. Given how close-quartered people are during quarantine, it’s likely that children will pick up on their family’s habits. Recently, there have been movements to stop mentioning weight around children. Whether the discussion is about the child’s weight or the parent’s, the children pick up on the criticism. Even people who aren’t parents can have a lasting impression. “She said, as if talking to herself, ‘Pretty face… have you ever thought about trying to lose weight?’” wrote a NYT contributor on her teenage experience with a friend’s mother. These comments linger and dig in, and around the holidays, they are especially amplified.
Hope for body positivity
Very recently, with stars like Lizzo proudly showing their nontraditional bodies, there has been an emphasis on accepting various looks. Plus-size models have made their ways onto catwalks and into major magazines, without necessarily acknowledging that they are plus size. YouTubers have made videos specifically showing how influencers may take their photos, so young girls may feel better about themselves. While the holidays are still bombarded with advertisements and commercials, there are still people reminding you of your worth.
Don’t feel ashamed for enjoying holiday food or eating more during winter! There’s a reason bears hibernate, and given the exhaustion of 2020, I think we all deserve it.
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