Since noticing that, I started doing it fairly, and not just with programming. At some point, I realized I was keeping a (somewhat oddly structured) journal.
1) I don't understand that. Let me ask StackOverflow.
2) I'm having trouble phrasing my question properly. What do you call $X? Googling ensues
3) Oh nevermind, I get it now <closes tab>
On a serious note, this effect can be applied to our everyday problem as well. Such as when you are feeling lethargic, you'd want to write down all of your thoughts in a list to see the bigger picture and figure out how simple it can be to finish a task at hand.
Also when I kept updating my blog posts about stupid problems that gooogle didn't answer seemed to attract some audience.
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Sound of typing
I've been thinking along the same lines for a very long time. Thanks for the inspiration to finally ask!
If they have a big enough database of half-typed-then-abandoned questions, do you think it would be possible to train an RNN (or something) to read a post in progress and predict at what point the answer should be obvious to you?
We haven't been writing long (in evolutionary terms) so I wonder why that is?
Thinking aloud, whether in the mind, on paper or even vocally, helps us to identify some of these points, and thus quantify a meaning from it. There's only so many points that we can mentally hold though - we're not good multi-taskers after all! So the better we can think aloud, the better we can consciously grab thoughts and identify the real gaps - which we can fill in by searching/ creating more points in our mind, or go external.
Hmm, just thinking aloud though ;)
lol just saying
I theorize that words you hear/read pass through some part of the brain specialized in finding answers, that is not engaged during regular problem solving.
Edit: I suspect Sherlock Holmes was the first fictional character to employ rubber-ducking (albeit with Watson as the duck). Greg House would be a more recent example (who uses his entire team).
the arrow of time in Western cultures moves from left to right.
It seems to have a lot of positive press, and it works for me--though I'm cautious of talking to myself at work before knowing if it would come across negatively.
These days I actually feel I'm worse at talking to myself in my head than I am in talking to myself via a keyboard.
I've tried both and you can talk yourself trough the problem inside of your head step by step just as effectively when it comes to coding tasks IMO.
Immediate problem solving/planning like "OK I need to do this then this" is a different story - saying stuff out loud helps here.
Would you use "rubber ducky debugging as a service" - like a chat service that stimulated you to find your own solutions?
You can thank me later.
"Is it because of the loop condition that you came to me?"
Visual and audio feedback is great for your brain.
For me, I often need to make a 200mL bottle for my child, and each scoop of powder makes only 20mL - meaning that I need to put 10 scoops in. Especially when I have a crying baby it's easy to lose track when you count in your head. But no worries if I vocalize my count.
The one that comes to mind is using defribulators. If you had a good CPR / EFR instructor, they will emphasize not just calling "clear" (like on TV), but physically sweeping your hands over the body head to toe while saying "all clear".
I did my training with 3 guys who collectively had about 60 years of EMT experience in New York City. Like most students, I assume, I sort of half-assed the sweep and was about to push the button. One of the guys grabbed my arm, looked at me, and said "Learn to do it correctly now, cause if you ever have to do it for real when shit is crazy and your heart is beating like mad, it can make the difference between helping one injured person vs creating a second one."
Clearly the lesson stuck with me. :)
As a software veteran I had two observations:
1. A good sysadmin or devops professional will be doing this as they do any operations on a production system.
2. The pilot's checklists, gauges and procedures are like the proto-microcontroller. Before auto-pilot and computerized systems, early pilots had to manage a complex system as it came to life. To see this in action, just watch a youtube video of a pilot starting up an old WW2 plane like a mustang, and imaging writing the arduino flow control for it..
They'll list 28 grams as a serving size with a scoop that has a line in it about 3/4 of the way up that represents 28 grams. Technically not misleading, but it's absolutely reasonable that people would assume 1 scoop = 1 serving size. The end result is that people go through more product.
If you watch professional bodybuilders who have to be very exacting about their intake, you'll see them tell you to always measure on the scale because you can't trust the scoop.
I also found this trick worked very well if I wanted to go places I wasn't supposed to be. Just pull out my blackberry, pretend to be engrossed in something important, powerwalk, and I could go just about anywhere unchallenged.
I've had anxiety issues over the years. One day I was feeling a bit anxious and suddenly the idea came over me to just try to shut off my inner voice - completely. I focused on trying to silence it and suddenly, once it was quiet, my nerves completely melted away. It was amazing. For the next few days I tried to continue my "quiet mind" exercises. It got to the point where I began to wonder if something was wrong with me. The silence became deafening. Scared I might've broken something in my mind I gave up quiet mind but it was incredibly effective against my anxiety.
Now I try and be more balanced in how much I talk to myself and how much I let the voice in my head narrate the world.
I stopped resisting the distractions and just allowed myself to think about them while at the same time trying to focus on my breath. As the distraction faded my focus on my breath returned.
I've gotten better at this and I feel like I've rewired my mind into being able to maintain a "quiet mind" and self-awareness, at the same as talking to myself either in my mind or out loud. And so when I get anxiety I can stay grounded and now I just think about what is giving me anxiety instead of letting it go or forgetting it. It's helped me to get rid of generalized anxiety that I've been stuck with for a long time.
That is how intrusive thoughts are, especially when learning to meditate. It is very hard for most people to silence them directly. It seems to work a lot better to acknowledge you had a thought, and return to meditating.
I echo this and many others here. Fighting back to "cure" yourself is almost always counterproductive and very, very painful. Think long-term instead, and think management; let it happen but guide it with the aim of having ultimate control over it.
It feels less serious, often even 'funny' or 'silly', I'm quicker to notice when it goes nowhere or drags me down somehow, and ever so slightly better at either guiding it in a different direction or putting a stop to it (and do something useful instead).
Really quite amazing to see how even a little bit of mindfulness caused a noticeable change after at least a decade of fully indulging in that inner voice and taking it too seriously. Good reminder to pick it up again.
And it is a skill. I also have a highly-active internal thoughtstream, and it can cause me significant stress if I don't control it. In my case, it isn't a verbal dialogue, but rather the thoughts that swim around one level below. Busy nonetheless.
The only thing that works for me is to not fight it. If I attempt to resist the flow, it only amplifies the pressure, akin to pressing your thumb over the garden hose. Much of the stress of these thoughts comes not from the thoughts themselves, but the urge that feels like you must hold and analyze them all before moving on.
Rather, concentrate on letting it pass by, acknowledging it as it flows downstream, without reaching out to hold on. Visualizing yourself sitting calmly near a rapidly flowing creek. Imagine the strength of the flow slowing over time. Let go of the worry of the uncompleted thought- tell yourself that if it is truly worth considering, it will flow back around again in time. Smile to yourself as the thoughts wash through you, appreciating their fleeting nature. After a short amount of time, minutes at most, you will find the strength of the torrent ebbing. It will not cease, but the trickle that remains is much easier to cope with. Ten minutes of this, and you will find yourself mentally refreshed, and ready to get on with things.
This, of course, is not a cure-all, and if you expect it to work every time, you will be disappointed. But it does become easier with practice, and in my case, at least, it genuinely helps.
Others do what you're describing, let the thoughts come but see them as just passing clouds in the sky. Eventually you distance yourself from that stream of consciousness and can focus just on your breath.
The two are not mutually exclusive either.
I think it boils down to karma, some people come into this life completely ready to take the inward journey; others, not so ready, need to break a mountain of karmic rocks before the mind begins to truly settle.
Having sat a number of retreats when I was younger (as in over a hundred days across various traditions) it's pretty clear that I was in the breaking rocks phase. Of course, I'm still in the breaking rocks phase (or even regressed to pre-breaking rocks) as I gave up formal meditation practice several years ago.
Honestly, it's quite distracting and I would be surprised if there's any visible upside. Sadly, there's no (easy) way to shut the brain down.
I found engaging my brain more actively and feeding it more stimulus helps control this. Something that can actively engage any possible downtime cycles from your brain, such as playing video games. When working, I would either sit in a cafe where people spoke the local language (that I couldn't understand) without headphones, or listen to a foreign language radio/TV show.
Whenever I zoned out of work, I could absorb this strange input that I had to think really hard what to do with. When I wanted to focus on work I could tune out the stuff I couldn't understand anyway and work.
Or of course, you can try hang out with humans in person more, but I understand that's not always preferred :)
Hope this helps somehow!
(Anyone who's upvoting this, does that mean I'm not alone or I'm insane?)
It's much easier to be your uncool self, when you're only talking to yourself.
In fact, when I was younger, I use to sometimes talk to myself like I was monologuing to an unseen audience, like characters always seem to do on kids shows.
I take offense to that! But actually I'm glad to hear that :)
I once met a dude in China without much of a noticable accent. I asked him if he had lived abroad, to which he replied that he had never been outside the country. He just regular talked to himself in English in his head. I'm sure other factors contributed to his strong English, but I found this really interesting and started trying it with Chinese (which I was studying at the time). I discovered that talking to yourself as you go about your daily life really helps you identify really practical words that you don't know yet. Or even, very impractical words like "elbow" which can be embarrassing gaps in your vocab when you reach a certain level.
One nice big feedback loop!
One other thing we learned was to talk real loud with either a high or low pitch as it helps you learn very quickly the proper pitches. I heard news casters in either Japanese or American news casters do this.
For me, it seems to happen most often when I remember a certain word or phrase in English only, which causes my thought stream to switch languages.
The thing is, nowadays I read and write much more in English than in my native tongue, so there's an ever-increasing amount of things I default to thinking about in English. I also tend to switch languages on the fly in my thoughts, depending on which one "feels" better at any given moment.
The turning point where I started thinking in English increasingly was when I stopped watching TV shows and movies dubbed and went looking for the original version instead.
Curiously, I noticed that I still prefer to have subtitles on original versions. Not in my native tongue, but in English. Besides not missing some unintelligible dialogues, I found it reduces the feeling of cognitive load for me when watching a movie.
I usually get real silent and then slowly pick back up as I walk away; trying to whisper to myself and keep my voice low in case someone else is on the trail.
I don't think I've ever encountered someone else doing this .. except sometimes for that crazy homeless person on the street .. and they don't exactly stop when people walk by them.
I've started to think I'm probably one of the few people who do this, but it's so helpful to hear my thoughts to put things into order and organize them that it's not something I really want to stop doing.
I also talk things out while driving alone. I used to get embarrassed that other drivers could see me. But now a days hands free phone systems are commonplace in cars so I just talk away :)
Nice hint. Gotta buy a highly visible bluetooth headset.
With the latter, believing that can be a symptom of paranoid Schizophrenia. And as a person who's dealt with mental illness myself, it's way better acknowledging and dealing with it as soon as you can.
By the way, I didn't overlook adding any details in my first comment. By "Australia and China", I meant both "democracies" and "dictatorships" are as guilty as each other.
It makes me wonder if this is part of why journaling has mental health benefits. Maybe the act of journaling introduces this same objectivity and thus improves thinking about a subject? E.g., the benefits described in Journaling about stressful events: Effects of cognitive processing and emotional expression ?
[0 (Fulltext PDF)]: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Philip_Ullrich/publicat...
I didn't know it was unusual....
"""Sometime it also helps to have an identical (or as similar as possible) object in your hand: thank to this "physical reminder", the brightness and color of the target will be more evident while searching for its brethren."""
I have tried this on occasion, and while (obviously) I can't say for sure that did the trick, it seems like it would have a similar (or perhaps even stronger) benefit than saying the name of the object out loud. I expect doing both would be even better.
If the site was still alive, I'd send in an addendum to that essay about it :-)
 http://search.lores.eu/ -- An incredibly useful resource, mainly about finding stuff online. Be mindful however it was written for the web as it was ~15 years ago (many tricks no longer work). Also try not to be put off by the Stallman-esque idealist rhetoric ;) RMS and Fravia+ used to be good friends, in fact (Fravia+ has since passed away). And like RMS, he too turned out to be prophetic/right often :)
The idea is not to conceptualize an imaginary person, but to lower the hesitancy of "but there's noone there". Trying it in an empty house may be helpful.
I found myself pacing after a mildly stressful event a few years ago, and the practice stuck as a way to help myself wind down. I'm not actually sure when I started talking to myself too, I think it was around that point. I do both on a virtually daily basis, it's how I figure many things out.
Oftentimes the reading "voice in my head" is so biased already that I overlook mistakes or inelegant constructions.
For example, I tend to auto fill prepositions that aren't actually there while reading, specially in a partially rewritten sentence.
When hearing someone else speak, however, the error is evident.
I talk to myself all the time, it's about more structuring my thoughts. I also swear to myself all the time. Self swearing is quite frequent.
A sign of mental illness is when you talk to yourself, but think the person answering you (in your head) is someone else.
Now I don't care. Self-talk (today mostly done through typing stuff into a text editor) helps me focus.
True for computer languages also. One of the ideas behind Lisp is that the language used to express ideas is a also tool for reasoning about those ideas.
For the sake of experiment I tried to avoid having an internal monologue / dialogue but it's surprisingly difficult. I'd be curious to hear if people have succeeded here and what that does to you. Are you still able to function and grow as a person and a thinker without that inner chatterbox? Can you think without vocalizing it in your head?
And yeah, interesting fact, I'm an introvert and an only child too, like some of the other posters. I've been the only person I could regularly talk to my entire life. I'm sure that has a huge impact on this.
In other words, it is really strong - To the point that when I first tried meditating, I found it extremely frustrating. The instructions I had didn't tell me what to do with the inner monologue. Somehow I was supposed to concentrate on breath without using it and I honestly couldn't figure out how to go about such a thing. I've never really understood why folks want to be without it.
I even find myself talking to myself (in my head) when I'm with my kids playing... which is not good at all, but I have the feeling I need the time to think to solve problems.
I'm a talkative person by nature and spend a lot of time alone, so I'm guessing it's more loneliness than anything; although I'm certainly not depressed. It's like an itch and suddenly, without realizing it, I'm having full blown conversations with myself. I've always wondered how many of us there were out there.
However, ruminations (rambling about past events) are usually considered harmful. Rumination is a bad habit and you should stop yourself while doing it.