Thoughts without Words

When I think to myself I do not think with an inner dialogue. My thoughts don’t sound like words until I translate them.

When I think to myself, it’s in a big empty void (I call it a galaxy) and my thoughts are in clusters I call boxes and the cluster represents a whole entire thought. A thought might be a sentence, a paragraph, a whole page of information. I zoom along superfast from box to box, only lightly touching on each one as I go, and boxes branch out in every direction, and I make a line behind me like a constellation as I go.

When I want to talk or write, I have to slow waayyyyyyy down in order to do it. I have to stop my speeding through space and open each box, read the contents of what’s inside, and translate them into English from box language. (I keep trying to call it galaxy language because that would sound so much cooler but my brain insists it’s named box language.)

I am capable of slowing my thoughts down and thinking them as if mimicking what I imagine an internal dialogue would sound like — as if I can hear myself saying them out loud or something. But that’s not how my brain goes like normal. If I read a significant portion of a book, sometimes my brain starts narrating in that book’s style for a little bit after I finish reading, instead of speaking in box language. But after a little while it’ll go back to box language.

There’s also always a song playing in the galaxy void too. That one goes at normal speed and is a different thing entirely from the boxes and the thoughts.

based on an image by khairul nizam

Sometimes I think that box language makes me a better writer. I have a thought or two thoughts and I can already visualize the shape, the feeling, of the finished product, because my thought is a whole thought. It will just take time to translate for other people. Sometimes I think it makes it harder, though. It’s incredibly frustrating when I have a box open in my mind and I can comprehend everything inside of it and I have to wrangle it into language somehow. The more emotional the box is, the harder it is to get those thoughts to translate into English. Emotion makes the boxes speed up and the translator slow down, so I might have five boxes piled up, screaming their thoughts at me, and still be struggling to get out the words about the first one.

If I’m learning about a wholly new concept with wholly new vocabulary and ideas, my brain will start trying to make box-branch connections immediately. Depending on how thoroughly uninformed I am about anything about the new concept, this can make learning something new excruciating as it slows down my thinking immensely and I have to fend off my brain from making inaccurate or incomplete connections. If I’m not interested in the subject matter that makes it even worse, because my brain will happily supply me 10 other more interesting box tracks to think about instead!

This is one of those things where I’m describing it in case you recognize yourself, your kid, or someone else you care about in my words. Maybe it can help you understand yourself or someone else a little better.

From an original post at The Occuplaytional Therapist on Facebook.