Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Don't have conversations with people who aren't there

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

I guess that's impossible since by the time you read it, I'll have finished writing it.  But I just noticed that I have 533 posts behind me and after a while you just can't remember whether you've said something before.  By now, for instance, my wife can tell all my best stories as well as I can. 

But walking the dog the other evening, I remembered one of the "rules to live by" that I came up with once:

Don't have conversations with people who aren't there.

Actually I can remember exactly when I came up with this.  I was sitting in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant in the foothills of the Wastatch Mountains overlooking Salt Lake City where I once traveled frequently to assist in managing the opening of a new alcohol and drug hospital -- Highland Ridge Hospital.  I think it is still around.  

And I wasn't paying attention to the view.  I was engaged in an intense, angry internal argument with my ex-wife over something or other.  I can't remember now.  But I had been at it for awhile.  Having arguments with someone in your head is easy because you always win them.  Since you are imagining both sides of the debate, you always make the other person say something to which you have already planned a scathing rebuttal. 

But after awhile, I realized that it had become dark and I had wasted well over an hour or so.  While I was pumping up my blood pressure, my ex-wife, three time zones away, was probably sleeping like a baby. 

I was having an imaginary argument about something that might never come up.  I don't know now whether it ever did, whatever it was. 

But suddenly I thought to myself: "Don't have conversations with people who aren't there."
And my blood pressure dropped and I smiled. 

And that little insight has served me well ever least when I remember to practice it.


  1. I wonder if it also applies to imaginary conversations of quite the opposite kind. I mean, just as well as arguing with people in one's head, it's also possible to make them agree (when in reality they might not)...

  2. are right. I am going to stop arguing with Newt!!!

  3. What I sometimes do is replaying conversations in my mind. Usually, something that meant a lot to me has been said during such a conversation, by someone who matters to me. And I like listening to what they said again and again, similar to how I like looking at the pictures of people I care about again and again.

  4. Wise words. I often make excuses for such behavior because I'm terrible at confrontation and fantasize about saying the "right" thing next time instead of chickening out.

  5. Well I think that is great advice. But I will probably keep talking to my muse who is nudging me to make that next brush stroke.

  6. My husband says he always knows when I'm arguing with someone in my head because I get an angry look on my face and I'm zoned out. Sad part is I don't even realize I'm doing it at the time.

  7. Good advice. I catch myself doing the same thing sometimes.

    On another note entirely, when I write in italics I feel like I'm saying something special. Thanks!

  8. No repeat. First time you told this story that I am aware of. Good zen.

  9. No repeat. First time you told this story that I am aware of. Good zen.

  10. Excellent advice!

    Though I eavesdrop on conversation in my head all the time. But those are my characters, so I suppose I have to pay attention to them--my livelihood depends on it.

  11. I wrote a post about how one should be tape recorded and played back...maybe if they did hear themselves in an argument per se it might help us know what we do to irritate others, or just hear our self period. Maybe it was taking place in your head, rewind at any given moment...

    My counselor did not find it so amusing when I share this the other day...I was angry at my sister and felt she should have to hear herself over and over, like I do! LOL

  12. Why are the comments in italics...blogger lets us choose? LOL

  13. That's great advise. How about dreaming of someone doing some thing that make you made, then you wake up and your still made at them for it? That has happened to me a couple times now.

  14. Yep, good advice, but I have conversations with people who are not there all the time. I mean, they are there, but they are so far away from the conversation they might as well not be there, meaning they hear my words but don't understand a thing I am saying. I know way too many people like that.

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