What do you call yourself in the second person singular?
August 17, 2016 10:17 AM   Subscribe

When you talk to yourself, inside or outside of your head, what do you call yourself? Do you use your given name, your family name, a nickname, what?
posted by signal to Human Relations (139 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I weirdly use my last name (I hardly ever use my last name otherwise). Never thought about that.
posted by General Malaise at 10:18 AM on August 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't really think of myself by name. Is that weird?
posted by Kriesa at 10:19 AM on August 17, 2016 [59 favorites]

I never use my name. I really never use anyone's name except when necessary (e.g. to get someone's attention or when needing to distinguish who I'm talking about when I'm not there), but I never will use someone's name when I'm talking to them, or mine when I'm talking to myself (and, incidentally, I hate when people use my name when talking to me.)
posted by brainmouse at 10:20 AM on August 17, 2016 [31 favorites]

I don't know that I ever actually call myself by name when talking to myself, but if I did I would use my first name.
posted by Redstart at 10:20 AM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I use second person singular, my boyfriend uses first person plural.
posted by janey47 at 10:20 AM on August 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

A shortened nickname version of my last name, mostly. Like, if my last name was Johnson, I'd call myself Johns.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:21 AM on August 17, 2016

I call myself by my last name or sometimes, will shout aloud in frustration, "SELF! C'MON!!!"
posted by pazazygeek at 10:21 AM on August 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I mostly just talk to myself in encouragement: "C'mon XXX, you can do this." In that case, I use my given first name; same name that other people use for me.
posted by hydra77 at 10:21 AM on August 17, 2016

I say "you."
posted by holborne at 10:22 AM on August 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

"You." Sometimes, "self," but only in a very meta-conscious "I'm talking to myself" way.
posted by lazuli at 10:23 AM on August 17, 2016

Another no namer here. I also use the 2nd person rather than first.
posted by zinon at 10:23 AM on August 17, 2016

Last-name or "kiddo" (which is not, contra Tarantino, actually my last name).
posted by praemunire at 10:26 AM on August 17, 2016

I use my first name when I'm mad at myself/have screwed something up. Sometimes it's diminutives like sweetie, missy, honey, etc when I'm just disappointed and not mad.
posted by bleep at 10:27 AM on August 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

Huh. I use my last name in my head and out loud. I never thought about that before.
posted by hungrybruno at 10:28 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Loser. Like what hydra77 said: "c'mon, loser, you have to finish this project before you can watch TV."
posted by Melismata at 10:28 AM on August 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

I give myself lots of internal pep talks (I used to scold myself a lot more but have tried to stop doing that so much). For both I use "you." No name.

Like, either "come on, you can do it--you'll be fine" or "oh my God, what were you thinking?!?!"
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:30 AM on August 17, 2016

I usually call myself "Dumbass," "Fucking Asshole," "Stupid Bastard," or "Piece of Shit."

I guess I mostly only address myself in self-loathing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:31 AM on August 17, 2016 [51 favorites]

I use my last name, which is the name a lot of people call me.
posted by punchtothehead at 10:33 AM on August 17, 2016

Usually something along the lines of either "you" or "hey, asshole." I just tried it with either my first or last name and it sounded extremely weird.
posted by griphus at 10:37 AM on August 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't use my name and most of my close friends/family don't use my name so much so that it's kind of jarring when people call me by it. But I was kind of a weird kid who wouldn't say people's names a) for fear of getting them wrong and b) because calling people their name to their face has always felt really weirdly intimate to me. So that might have influenced why I avoid my own name generally.
posted by terretu at 10:37 AM on August 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

"You," "We," or "Guy." As in "C'mon guy, we need to pick up the pace a little."
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:37 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Big Guy"
posted by AugustWest at 10:42 AM on August 17, 2016

Huh. Wasn't there a thread on the blue a while back about some theory of consciousness that posited a split between when people thought of the voice in their heads as a separate entity and when they came to think of it as "themselves?" This question gets real interesting when you chew on it for a minute.

I internally address myself as "you," with the occasional unkind epithet.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:42 AM on August 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I usually say, "What are you DOING?!" when I do something dumb. If I'm freaking out over something, I might say "You're okay" several times while taking deep breaths.
posted by sucre at 10:43 AM on August 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

I use my last name a lot even though no one calls me that. I used to refer to myself a lot as, "you idiot," but I do that less now and mostly it's just "you."

Sometimes I use "we," when I've been putting something off for a long time and am trying to talk myself into really doing it this time, as in: "Alright, we're just going to go down there and talk to the secretary. No more putting it off. She's probably not a mean person and you'll feel so much better once you've got it over with."
posted by colfax at 10:43 AM on August 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

I don't use a name, just "you", as in "oh you idiot, why didn't you go to bed early?".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:44 AM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

First name, like so: "Come on cotton, get it together" (when cotton is sleep deprived and having trouble making decisions about e.g. breakfast foods, or getting going in the a.m.).
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:44 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't talk "to" myself. I cuss at the sky. I have imaginary dialogues with other people, trying to rehearse where the conversation might go or work something out mentally.

I guess I am always "I" in my own head. There is no second person singular me. And it feels weirdly othering to try to imagine addressing myself that way.
posted by Michele in California at 10:45 AM on August 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

Another vote for "asshole."
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:48 AM on August 17, 2016

posted by Flexagon at 10:48 AM on August 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

I often don't think of myself in terms of names or labels, but I do regularly call myself "me." Like "cool story, me" or "good job, me" or "what are you doing, me" (note conflicting use of second-person pronoun). Sometimes I think in terms of Past Me and Future Me, or Tired Me or Drunk Me or Working From Home Me.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:48 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

sometimes I shift from "you" to "we" too, I think
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:51 AM on August 17, 2016

i do the me thing too usually but in times of minor personal crisis i am known to shout WTF DUDE aloud and shake my fist at myself
posted by poffin boffin at 10:51 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Either my name or if I'm in trouble and reverting to childhood its definitely "boy".
So light: "Tchad, get moving." Or trouble brews: "Boy you KNEW better than this."
posted by Tchad at 10:53 AM on August 17, 2016

Very rarely my government name. Mostly various nicks I've used over the years, or profanity.
posted by isauteikisa at 10:55 AM on August 17, 2016

I don't think I do this. I'm first person self-talk all the way. I I I I I me me me me me mine mine mine
posted by phunniemee at 10:57 AM on August 17, 2016 [13 favorites]

I...basically never do this! No firstname, no lastname, no nickname, no second-person you. More to the point just no real habit that I'm aware of of explicitly addressing myself whatsoever, in my head or out loud. I think I sometimes sort of step back and evaluate declarative "I" statements in my head a little bit, like "okay, I need to do x" if I'm trying to work out an idea or a process, but that's as close as I think I can come to it and that's not a daily habit sort of deal.

I'm vaguely aware of self-talk in principle and as something that real people do for a variety of positive and negative reasons; but in casual practice I guess it's something I lapse into thinking of as more of a media trope than anything.
posted by cortex at 10:58 AM on August 17, 2016 [14 favorites]

I call myself my nickname from growing up that no one except my family uses any more.
posted by tooloudinhere at 10:59 AM on August 17, 2016

Almost always my first name.

I've also been known to talk about myself in third person, though.
posted by INFJ at 11:02 AM on August 17, 2016

Girl. Also, GIRL, Girl, Girl, and Girrrrrl. The inflection matters.

also that combination of letters no longer makes sense to me which is so weird ahhhh
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:06 AM on August 17, 2016 [12 favorites]

If I'm thinking in my head, I don't call myself anything. Like, I'm just "talking" to someone and that someone happens to be me.

If I'm chastising myself or congratulating myself or whatever out loud, I use my full first name. So, "Way to go, Einstein*."

*no my name is not Einstein and this works for both chastising and congratulating fyi
posted by cooker girl at 11:07 AM on August 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

I use my full Firstname Lastname or initials. It's mellifluous and what my family, oldest friends, etc. call me. Never "Headn" or "H," always "Headn South" or "H.S."
posted by headnsouth at 11:08 AM on August 17, 2016

When I'm talking to myself, I'm rarely talking to MYSELF. I'm having imaginary conversations. Like a run-through of a job interview, or practicing a tough conversation I need to have with someone soon, for example.

In the rare cases where I'm addressing ME, I use the second person, usually imperative.

"You should have accepted that job offer!"
"Don't forget milk on the way home."
posted by peep at 11:09 AM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm like phunniemie: I, me, etc. Not you.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:11 AM on August 17, 2016

I don't think I do this. I'm first person self-talk all the way. I I I I I me me me me me mine mine mine

Reading through this thread with all the things you guys call yourself was making me feel weird, almost uncomfortable, a tiny bit anxious. Then I got to phunniemee's comment here and felt relief. Yes, this is me, this is how it works. So not only am I first person all the way (after all, there's no one else in here listening), apparently I have quite strong feelings about it.

I also often think of my husband as Mr Hislastname, something I rarely call him in real life. I think that started after we got married too despite neither of us changing our name in any way (I'm a Dr so don't need to use Mrs). My brain is so weird.
posted by shelleycat at 11:12 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also usually use "I," but since the question asked about what we call ourselves when we are using second-person singular, that's the question I answered. So if the OP is also interested in whether everyone uses the second-person singular, the framing of the question may skew the results.
posted by lazuli at 11:30 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Usually when I need to talk to myself I already have my attention, so I don't need to call me.
posted by Promethea at 11:32 AM on August 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

Context dependent, usually "self", but sometimes my first name, last name, or in certain very particular contexts, my maiden name (which hasn't been my legal name for 7+ years).

Once in a while, "champ". I'm...totally embarrassed to be the first person in this thread to bust out "champ", but the internet demands my full honesty on this matter
posted by the marble index at 11:35 AM on August 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Huh, it really depends. Sometimes first name, sometimes last, sometimes just 'you'. The negative me had all sorts of names, but he's been fairly quiet for awhile not (knock on wood). Sometimes when we're goofing off, names are made up, such as 'Lord Brandon, first of the loveknobs, protector of his realm, which means just this side of the bed' etc, etc.

Yeah, I'm an introvert, why do you ask?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:36 AM on August 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

Once in a while, "champ". I'm...totally embarrassed to be the first person in this thread to bust out "champ", but the internet demands my full honesty on this matter

I've been a bit busy but wanted to chime in that I call myself champ - not always, just when I need it.

I also use my name, "I" or "You", depending on context.
posted by zutalors! at 11:37 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, I've used champ before, both dismissively and encouragingly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:40 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

99% of the time I use first person "I" or don't refer to myself in any way.

other 1% is when I'm very down or discouraged, and I use "hon" or "honey" - "hey hon, it's going to be ok! cut yourself some slack, honey."
posted by sallybrown at 11:41 AM on August 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

I use a nickname no one has ever called me and I don't think has ever been spoken aloud. It's my firstname-name of an animal. Surprisingly, that animal is not a pig.
posted by advicepig at 11:54 AM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Neutral mood: just tends to be "you", but it's definitely second-person.

When I'm pissed at myself: "dumbass".

When I'm anxious or trying to comfort myself: weirdly pretentious affectionate terms, like "sweetest" or "dear heart" or "my own love".
posted by darchildre at 11:58 AM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mostly it is "you," but occasionally I use my full first name - especially if I'm speaking aloud.
posted by sockermom at 12:02 PM on August 17, 2016

Man, I guess I contain multitudes, because I have lots of things I call myself. Last name, "you," various nicknames, "moron," and in times of deep distress, "poor baby," in all seriousness.
posted by thebrokedown at 12:02 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Huh. Always "you," I think. Maybe "I" sometimes. Fascinating question. I don't ever call myself a name, good or bad or otherwise, even if I've messed up.
posted by umwhat at 12:04 PM on August 17, 2016

99% of the time I use first person "I" or don't refer to myself in any way.

Yeah, same, there's usually no explicit talking to myself - it's only on extremely bad mornings that I do this. (E.g. when I become aware, as I'm reaching for the milk, that at some point in the very recent past, I [or someone - *most likely* me; but there's a pause to consider alternates, because wtf] decided that the fridge is where my comb goes. This is after several days of like 3-4 hours a night.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:06 PM on August 17, 2016

Turns out I only ever address myself when I am pissed off and think I need a good talking-to, so the ways I address myself are with a stern "LISTEN, you...!" and variations on "cazzo," a rude Italian word.

P.S. This is a fantastic question.
posted by miles per flower at 12:17 PM on August 17, 2016

Sometimes "we," or if I'm feeling pitiful, "Dear." "You'll be fine, dear." "Get up, dear." It's oddly comforting.
posted by hsieu at 12:27 PM on August 17, 2016

Another one who doesn't do this ever. I'll think to myself, "take out the garbage" or "have to take out the garbage" or maybe "today I have to take out the garbage." And when I'm done I might think "ok, garbage is done." But it would never ever occur to me to say any of that to myself in the second person. In fact, I don't think I realized until this thread that real people really did that. I've only read it in novels or heard people say it aloud in the presence of others and assumed they were trying to be cute/funny by saying "Bob/dude/self, take out the garbage...good job, Bob/dude/self!"
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:44 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I always wanted a cool nickname and no one would ever give me one. So when I'm talking to myself it's usually, "Look here Kitten. Get your shit together and finish this." or "Shake it off Kitten." or "Kitten...duuuddde."

But I'm also fond of the whole "So I said to myself, 'Self', I said, 'We have seriously fucked this up." routine. But that's usually only when there is unintentional fire.
posted by teleri025 at 12:45 PM on August 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

Usually, "baby." But I use it like a name, so I use "you," too.

As in, "Baby, you want to go for a run?" or "Baby! Why are you worrying about this, OMFG."

I've never been called "baby" much in real life (even my mom used a different term of endearment), so I don't know where it came from.

I'm kind of shocked that people call themselves things like loser or asshole in their heads!
posted by rue72 at 12:48 PM on August 17, 2016

Usually 'dude', even though I'm not a dude. But also call everyone else dude.
posted by greta simone at 1:01 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Hey Crazy, what did I come in here for?"

"Get it together, Crazy."
posted by Night_owl at 1:08 PM on August 17, 2016

Usually "you", or various levels of slurs and profanity, either in scolding or motivating, ie, "Okay bitch, get it together." I'm stunned to see so many people have sweet/positive nicknames for themselves, that's honesty just mindblowing. :/
posted by moonlight on vermont at 1:12 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

My spontaneous self talk comes out as the kind of encouraging voice I would use with an anxious little child, maybe as old as six or seven, with lots of endearments "C'mon, Baby-Love, It's alright. You can handle this. Just take it slow. Yes, you can stop if you want to." The self being addressed is evidently female, as she is addressed as Baby-Girl and Little-Girl and with endearments that I don't think I would use for a male. I sometimes address her as if she were a toy, referring to her as a doll, or calling her Dollie or Baby-Doll or Dolly-Mop* or Dolling. There are a lot of extravagant endearments and much coaxing and comforting.

When I consciously plan to use self talk I can begin with a more adult directed voice and refer to myself as You. "Alright, You. You've been mucking up on this, so how do you fix it?" I will pretty soon revert back to the adult soothing a distressed child speech pattern however.

I had a childhood nickname, "Janey" that I used for myself back when I first learned to speak - My first full sentence was "Janey fix" and became a catch phrase for me because I always wanted to fix things or do things or try things. I sometimes use this name, though usually modified to Janey-Girl or in some other way. I have experimented with dusting this name off and putting it back into general use but it didn't take, and I wasn't motivated enough to push it. I definitely don't think of myself by my own legal, real name although that is the one I always use; in fact I often misspell it, which must mean something or the other deeply psychologically significant.

*Yes, I know what it means.
posted by Jane the Brown at 1:15 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I use my first name, or, occasionally "muppet" when I do something particularly stupid. I have never, ever called myself "self" and I didn't think that was a thing people actually did. This thread has been fascinating.

(also, when I'm having a really tough time I imagine the voice in my head talking to me as if it and I were separate people. and it is comforting me. Like, it's different to my usual style which feels just like talking to myself. Is that really weird? I dunno)
posted by stillnocturnal at 1:35 PM on August 17, 2016

Almost never do. The only thing that comes to mind is when I think/say "Dummy" "Stupid" "Idiot", things along that line.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:44 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

"Dude, pay attention." (I'm a woman.)
posted by Omnomnom at 1:52 PM on August 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm starting to cal myself 'jamjam', for God's sake!

I am in desperate need of deprogramming.
posted by jamjam at 2:02 PM on August 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

It would be very rare to refer to myself as anything. But now that you mention it, "bitch" is probably my go to in self-talk.
posted by bobobox at 2:22 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

when i feel arrogant and proud, or it's something positive, "mama"
when i'm chastising myself for being a dirtbag or being mean, "lastname"
when i'm self coaching and motivating/visualizing, "firstname"
when i'm sad and lonely or ruminating, "favorite animal"

i am weird.
posted by zdravo at 2:34 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't talk "to" myself. I cuss at the sky. I have imaginary dialogues with other people, trying to rehearse where the conversation might go or work something out mentally.

I guess I am always "I" in my own head. There is no second person singular me. And it feels weirdly othering to try to imagine addressing myself that way.

Exactly this. Couldn't have said it better.
posted by aws17576 at 2:38 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

But I find it interesting that so many of you talk to yourselves to restrain an impulse, correct a mistake, or beat yourselves up over something! For me, "talking to myself" (rarely literal talking aloud) is just thinking in words. I do it a lot, especially when trying to solve a problem or make a strategy.
posted by aws17576 at 2:43 PM on August 17, 2016

No pronouns or form of address. Often not even really directed at anything, just abstract thoughts ("what a fuck up" "jesus christ" "get a grip" "lardass weakling" etc etc etc). Sometimes it's not even fully subvocalized, and more a single word, or emotional thought impression. My conversations with my self are prettttty much all negative and abusive. A+ self-talk, Sazerac!
posted by sazerac at 3:20 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Love this question.

I call myself dude mostly, as in come on dude! Except sometimes I call myself sweetheart, as in sweetheart you are doing great you are doing so well good job.

It makes me feel kind of nauseous to think of calling myself by either my first or last name. Ugh.
posted by mgrrl at 3:33 PM on August 17, 2016

I refer to myself almost exclusively as "we," like "OK, what are we gonna do here," or "we've almost got it."
posted by 4th number at 3:42 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I use my childhood nickname for this, it's a mispronunciation of my first name.
posted by escapepod at 3:53 PM on August 17, 2016

I call myself Kim. Unimaginative, I know. Maybe I'll start calling myself Cha-Cha instead.

(The best dancer at St. Bernadette's...)
posted by kimberussell at 4:05 PM on August 17, 2016

I think I use almost all of the above!

At the gym I use "suck it up, princess", or some other nickname. I also have a few derogatory terms e.g. "idiot" that I use when I stuff something up.
When I'm doing chores and things it's plural: "We're going to clean the mirrors, then we'll...". I have joked to people that I think in plural.
I use my name, usually in the context of "thanks past eloeth-starr, good work!", or "that's future eloeth-starr's problem".

I do use "I" but it's probably the most infrequent use.

Awesome question!
posted by eloeth-starr at 4:31 PM on August 17, 2016

Bookmarking this for a fantastic question and really fascinating thread, btw. I wonder what the common thread is between the people who curse ourselves out and the people who talk to themselves like a kid they're coaching?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 5:40 PM on August 17, 2016

"Dickhead" normally.
posted by pompomtom at 6:28 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm first-person about the here and now, but if I'm talking about past or future stuff I talk about Past Jessamyn (as in "Hey Past Jessamyn left me a cookie, I really like her") or Future Jessamyn (as in "I'm going to leave this cookie for Future Jessamyn") so there are basically three of us.
posted by jessamyn at 6:37 PM on August 17, 2016 [15 favorites]

Gorgeous. Life has enough negativity as it is.
posted by arha at 6:50 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't think of myself by my given name. The voice in my head addresses me with various terms of endearments that my husband uses for me. Maybe it's his voice in my head :)
posted by lollusc at 6:59 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and as someone above said, sometimes I call myself "Dude". Generally when exasperated. ("FFS, dude, just write the bloody email!")

And sometimes I call myself "kitty", which is weird. I think it's because I'm used to murmuring sweet nothings to the cat, so it feels natural to say things like, "Good kitty!" or "C'mn kitty, going to put you to bed." I have caught myself saying that out loud to myself, which could be embarrassing if overheard.
posted by lollusc at 7:03 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Generally, "you" and "Maidenlastname". I just think my maiden last name sounds a little more bad-ass than my current last name, and it makes me think of my middle school soccer coach who used to scream "MAIDENLASTNAME, GO, GO HARD!!!!" I guess I am amongst the people who likes to think of myself as a kid that my adult superego has to boss around.

"You can do this, come on, Maidenlastname" is my most common self-talk refrain.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:11 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I call myself by my surname (which is a nickname a lot of people call me),
or sometimes "you idiot",
or sometimes "dude",
or sometimes by a rakish diminutive form of my first name that only a couple of people have ever called me, but which I always liked (along the lines of Alexander shortened to "Lex").
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:48 PM on August 17, 2016

"Greggles", something an aunt called me about 5 times and no-one else ever has. (Sometimes also Greg, but a bit less often)
posted by piato at 3:46 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I [internally] externalize a gruff cabbie who chides and prods me and isn't that great with names, so he calls me "Pal" or "Buddy."
posted by Glomar response at 5:33 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seconding Hermione Granger.



"girl, RUN."
posted by a fiendish thingy at 5:56 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Whenever I need to talk to myself through/out of something I use my first name, and sometimes my full name for emphasis. It works for me because in my head I'm making an effort to detach the more rational part of me to give parent-type advice and consolation.
posted by coolname at 7:13 AM on August 18, 2016

I call myself "li'l tiger" a lot. As in "C'mon, li'l tiger, you can do this!"

Like Glomar I also use buddy, but only when I'm really pissed at myself. "WTF BUDDY!"

Other than that I call myself my fine friend, chickadee, dude, and shithead. These are also my most common nicknames for my friends. . . . I'm not sure what that means.
posted by barchan at 9:00 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I always refer to myself in the plural, like:

"Come on, people, time to get out of bed."

"Guys, what's happening here?"

"We really screwed that one up."

I think maybe as a kid I imagined having my brain be a kind of council chamber situation, or being filled with lots of miniature people, like when calvin imagines little calvins running his digestive system.
posted by Rinku at 9:19 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Its either first person: "I need to take out the garbage", "I should get that report done", or, if I am talking to myself, I always use insults. Nasty ones. Bitch, c*nt, fatass, lazy, shithead, asshole, and worse.
So. Um.
I try not to talk to myself. I'm not very nice to myself.
posted by sandraregina at 9:29 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I use my nickname. In work situations, this can be awkward, because at work I go by my real first name, which bears no relation to my nickname. Occasionally someone will overhear me, and get the impression I am talking to a third, perhaps imaginary, person, usually to tell them they have done something stupid. Mumbled explanations ensue.
posted by Adridne at 9:40 AM on August 18, 2016

Since high school it's been "Z." I'm not sure how it came about.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 9:50 AM on August 18, 2016

Usually I'm being encouraging when I talk to myself. I use some nicknames I have (including one that's actually a shortening of my first name that no-one has ever called me) and also just an assortment of syllables that are bits of terms I'll use for other people I like. It is in rotation, generally - "c'mon, fluff" then "aw man, floo, you can do this" and "pull it together, flutter!" Then a year later "dangit, Mi-e..." Just syllables that sound friendly basically. Or names of characters I've been pretending to be while writing stories about in my head.
posted by Lady Li at 11:19 AM on August 18, 2016

Selfie-self. Never said this out loud!
posted by poodelina at 11:29 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

My inner monologue is outward-focused most of the time, thinking about events or problems in a descriptive, third-person fashion, so most of the time I'm not (explicitly) a topic of my own thoughts. When I am, it's usually in the context of trying to work through a decision or take an action that I'm struggling to get motivated for, and then the majority of the time I think I just address myself in the subject-less imperative, as in, "Get up. Go to the store. Stop that." When I'm annoyed with myself, I use my first name, as in, "Dammit, Biogeo! C'mon, Biogeo. Seriously, Biogeo?" When I need coax myself or give myself pep talks, I mostly use "you," sometimes with my first name included. I did a lot of this while writing my dissertation.
posted by biogeo at 11:39 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I use my first name, but usually with a time-modifier - such as, "C'mon, Present Leemleem! Future Leemleem will thank Past Leemleem heartily for taking care of this now!"
posted by leemleem at 1:10 PM on August 18, 2016

By my first name. Using "me", or my last name all feel weird to me.

When irritated/tired, I do occasionally use endearments. ("c'mon, honey, out of bed, up you go").

I don't think I call myself "you", but I'll definitely speak to myself in second person, so "yeah, cozybee, you can do it". I think I might've also used "we" on occasion but I'm not certain.
posted by Cozybee at 1:21 PM on August 18, 2016

I usually call myself to action with "we." "We need to brush our teeth."
posted by bendy at 2:24 PM on August 18, 2016

This thread is completely fascinating, I nearly want to make a survey/study on this.
Initially reading this I couldn't relate at all and was relieved when I saw the mention of "planning conversations" as that felt more familiar, but I've been hyperaware now and this morning noticed that I say "I" when mentally confirming what I've done, "ok, I've checked the door and turned off the oven". My negative self talk is without a pronoun/name, just epithets, except for an occasional "I hate you" which I guess counts as both? I am fascinated by those of you who speak kindly to yourselves and sooth yourselves and think in terms of "we", I'm going to be thinking about this a bit and see if it's something I can learn to do; it sounds delightful.
posted by Iteki at 2:32 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Either "you," "we," or if I'm feeling self-deprecatory, "kid." I've been trying to cut it out with the last one now that I'm over 30, though. It seems a little unkind.
posted by deludingmyself at 3:51 PM on August 18, 2016

i am a true northern california child so whenever i (infrequently) refer to myself it's always "dude"
posted by burgerrr at 5:03 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

You, we and I. The pattern generally seems to be mainly "We" or sometimes "you" when I'm making plans or trying to work things out - "Right, let's go", "You're going to have to go to the store sometime today, you know", "We'll have to be at the station at twelve, so if we get on the bus by eleven..." - and "I" is more for when I'm making statements that I already know full well - "I'm so tired". I don't address myself by name except the occasional really bad mood where "Fuck you, [eykal]" has seemed appropriate. My full name of course, because that's when you know you're really in trouble.

I remember getting quite worried when I was younger about talking to myself using "you" or "we" rather than using - was I pretending to be two people? Was this the wrong way to think? Was I going to develop multiple personalities like in the movies? On a personal level I can report that this has not happened yet so I think I'm okay.
posted by eykal at 5:35 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Buddy, bro, dude, man. As in, "come on, _____, you can do this" or "dude, you're gonna be late" etc.

I first started saying 'Bro' ironically ages ago, and now I just say it, and I can't stop, and I've become one of those people who says it for real.

Anyway, the takeaway is that I talk to myself like I talk to one of my friends. That's sort of a self-conscious decision. I can no longer recall, but I can't imagine that when I was in the throes of depression, I called myself "buddy".
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 6:04 PM on August 18, 2016

If I'm not insulting myself for something* then it's probably "dude", yeah. But then I call everyone dude. I used to call my grandfather dude.

*Pull it together, you dumb bastard
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:43 PM on August 18, 2016

I use "you" or my name or a shortened version of my name when I am talking to myself. Sometimes I call myself a (gentle) name, like "What are you doing? That won't work, silly!"

I weirdly consider my body a "we/us," though. Usually in the context of imagining my body saying "What are you doing to us!?" when I like, drink too much or try to run in the heat or something.

So not sure what that all means, philosophically.
posted by aka burlap at 7:48 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Great question, great answers. As I find often in my life, I appear to be in one of the minorities. I self-talk a lot, and I use "you," "we," or "gang" for the kind of housekeeping conversation--okay gang, what's next on the agenda, what'll we have for dinner, hm?--and my married lastname (which I have used since 1968, so I'm kinda used to it) when cajoling, chastising, or coaching myself-- wow Lastname, what the heck was THAT move all about? NEVER my first name! Why I try that out here and now, it sounds like I would say it sarcastically, which I don't like. :) My self-talk is often a running narrative on my day. I spend a lot of time alone these days after leaving a fairly intense caregiving situation, and I haven't been able to decide yet whether I do this all the time, but it was drowned out by my actual ongoing conversation with my "caree", or whether this is a form of compensation for not having someone to talk to. I'm leaning towards the former.
posted by backhomeagain at 7:50 PM on August 18, 2016

posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:53 PM on August 18, 2016

It feels weirdly uncomfortable and difficult if I force myself to "talk to myself" in my head.
The constant, real me seems to be saying "what on earth are you doing?"
So it appears the answer would be "you"
posted by fullerine at 10:41 PM on August 18, 2016

I have a narrative in my head, three voices having a conversation, all of which are just me talking to myself from different perspectives. I think in terms of 'I' when referring to myself, but the conversation can use 'you' or 'we' for the sake of discussion.

I read this thread and one of my narrative voices got really self concious about what a weird little special snowflake I am, one voice started wondering how much these types of internalised customs have cultural or biological influences, and one voice made a careful judgement about the wisdom of posting personal stuff on a public website. And then hit the post button anyway.
posted by Eleven at 3:48 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't think I do this very often but when I do--like encouraging or chiding myself--I use "woman." Like:
"Come on, woman, time to get out of bed."
"What were you thinking, woman?"
It's kind of like the voice of a hypothetical husband of many years, who is loving but not afraid to keep it real. My inner better half.
posted by drlith at 7:43 AM on August 19, 2016

"Our heroine" or "God fucking dammit" or "STOP IT" or "dude."

The narration varies from first, second, and third person.
posted by RainyJay at 9:36 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have a vivid memory of my grandmother (a lovely person) addressing herself aloud at the dinner table, saying, "Have some beets, Bernise." She then stopped and looked bemused, saying, "You know, when I think of myself, I rarely call myself Bernise."

I wasn't surprised--she never liked her first name and I kind of understand that (it's not Bernice, it's Bernise, like furnace--and that's just not a particularly pretty name). So I asked her, "Well, what do you call yourself?"

She said, chuckling ruefully, "Shithead," and I was mildly shocked (but only mildly, especially because I'd spent a good bit of time that summer listening to her shout "Shaman, you shithead!" at her mildly senile dog) and I loved her for admitting it.

I don't seem to have inherited this mindset, though--I don't really call myself anything, although I certainly talk to myself plenty. As a really small child (4-5), I spent a good bit of time narrating my life under my breath (e.g., if I said something, I would automatically add "she said" in a faint whisper; my parents teased me mercilessly for this). I don't think of myself in third person anymore; I think I'm far more likely to think of myself in second rather than first, though. I don't dislike my first name, but it's never seemed to fit me like a glove and it sounds odd to call myself that directly.

My spouse regularly calls herself by her last name if she's thinking out loud to herself. I've wondered sometimes if that got ingrained as the most logical option for her as a trans person, since she changed her first name fairly late in life and went through several options before she settled on the one that she legally adopted. Her last name has always been the same (mine is not; I didn't like my birth name and changed it happily when I married her; using that logic, it may be why the last name wasn't an easy default for me).

This question fascinates me. Sidebar deserved.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:09 AM on August 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

Have been calling myself "Mags" since at least college. Less frequently, "girlfriend".

On those occasions when I'm desperate to summon out of my brain what passes for intelligence or wit, I'll call myself "Rabbit". This, I realized some years ago, is taken from the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon Water, Water Every Hare when he accidentally backs into the monster and mutters to himself "Uh-oh. Think fast, rabbit."

(Over the decades I've come to terms with the fact that my ultimate goal since childhood was to become as smart and quick-witted as Bugs and Bre'r Rabbit. There are worse goals, I suppose).
posted by magstheaxe at 11:46 AM on August 19, 2016

"I", "you", and my first name aren't uncommon.

"we" is pretty common too, but it kindof freaks me out. I've come to accept at some level that I'm actually a plurality in some ways, but staring at that fact directly can be a bit uncanny.

"kids" might be a blunted variation of that, it might be leftover from being addressed by parents and television, it might be bleedover from me using it as familiar group address sometimes.
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:27 PM on August 19, 2016

Pammy (a nickname almost no one calls me). I do a lot of encouraging self-talk, so I call myself Pammy quite a bit, now that I think about it.

Chasing a scary bug with spray and a broom: "GOOD JOB, PAMMY! YOU ARE SO BRAVE!"

Tackling a boring task at work: "You can do this, Pammy. I know, it's a drag, but it'll soon be done."

Driving in the dark & rain: "Nice work, Pammy. Look what a good job you did taking that corner. That's ok, that car can pass you. We're not in a hurry, are we?"

Thank you for this weird question. :)
posted by pammeke at 12:46 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Moron." For some reason I don't talk to myself when I do something well, but when I'm flailing it's always "moron." It's as though I won't let myself acknowledge success. But failure? IT'S ALL ABOUT ME, AND I AM THE SUPERSTAR OF MORONS!
posted by Lyme Drop at 1:01 PM on August 19, 2016

Long ago I used various derogatory terms. Now it's generally either "we" ("Let's go...we can do this) or (thanks to my last relationship -- neither I nor anyone else had ever called me this before) "sweetheart".
posted by tangerine at 1:58 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Didn't realize that so many other people used the Royal Symbiote we.

I wanna say something supportive to the self-down-talkers here but I don't know howwww
posted by tyro urge at 2:09 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

What a great question. I usually call myself by my last name, but in some contexts I call myself a shortened version of my fandom handle. It's weird to think I never call myself my first name when talking to myself, but it's definitely true.
posted by Tesseractive at 9:21 PM on August 19, 2016

Great question! Usually "you" or something like "idiot," "jerk," "asshole." Sometimes my first name, the whole name and not the shortened version of it. NEVER my last name. All my life I've had people call me by my last name (honestly, it kind of lends itself to that) and I just went along with it. Till one day it dawned on me that I absolutely despised being called that, and insisted that friends stop, so never do I call myself by my surname.
posted by old_growler at 11:20 PM on August 19, 2016

I've used a diminutive of my first name since my teen years -- think "Owly", only of my legal first name. Nobody's ever used it to refer to me, except me, and I would be horrified if someone did ... other than myself.

I veer between 'we' and 'you' -- it's kind of, "All right, Owly, what do we have to do next?" to "Owly, what the hell are you doing," depending upon whether I am planning positive or rejecting a crappy idea or whatever :) Sometimes, "doll."

Using my legal name to talk to myself feels creepy as. Nonono.
posted by owlrigh at 5:19 PM on August 20, 2016

I am almost always I, or me, or just no stated pronoun, just "gotta get this trash here taken to the dumpster".

I do wander around having thoughts to myself and using the word "I" inside my head, and then pause and go "and what is this 'I' that is asking?" and just kind of marinate on that mystery a bit.

I feel bad for those of you who use negative epithets towards yourselves, and wonder how many of you have been abused or bullied?
posted by megafauna at 12:51 AM on August 21, 2016

I wonder if there's some deeper source of the variation here—a kind of register of one's own relation to self and the world, manifesting in pronouns, proper names, the royal we, etc.

I use what I suppose is a self-created vocative case—I'm Katie, but I call myself Kates when I'm exhorting myself.

I never use that version of my name in any other context, but when I was in college my roommate found a note I'd left to myself, something to the effect of "get your lazy butt out of bed, Kates" taped to my alarm clock. She started using it instead of my usual nickname, and now it's a private nickname form as well as my self-vocative. Only two people use it—my former roommate, and my partner, who picked it up from her.
posted by felix grundy at 5:22 PM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

You might find this interesting. It's a YouTube video about the different hemispheres of your brain and your sense of self.
posted by domo at 7:13 AM on August 22, 2016

It used to always be "bitch". Now sometimes I get "babe" instead. Usually in the context of "bitch! Get out of bed already!" Or "cmon babe, time to get up."

But right now, when it's hours past my bedtime, instead it's "what the hell are we doing up!"

Sleep, that's where I am no kind of Viking at all.
posted by nat at 8:26 PM on August 23, 2016

I evidently don't self-identify with my actual name. The thought of addressing myself by actual name, aloud or in my thoughts, is ... weird. And I mean any variation: first, last, nickname, handle. I generally just think "I". And the occasional, "oh, you idiot, why did you do that?" But if I were to address a mirror for some reason, I would say, "I".
posted by timepiece at 12:50 PM on August 24, 2016

El Presidente
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:35 AM on August 26, 2016

Either "I" or "Jerk, idiot, moron, stupid, jerk, fool, idiot, jerk, jerk, jerk..." mostly because of the Pkunk in Star Control 2.
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:36 PM on August 26, 2016

I waited until I came across this in the wild to answer. I use my first name.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:55 PM on August 27, 2016

Things I call myself when talking to myself:



My first name. Well, my preferred short form of it. Eeeevery now and then I'll use my full first/middle/last name. Usually I am expressing annoyance veiled in excessive politeness with myself when I do that.

Sometimes my birth name. (I'm trans) More likely when I'm depressed.

Like Jessamyn, I will refer to "future Egypt" and "past Egypt". When I'm doing something I don't want to do, I will say "you're welcome, future Egypt". Usually with a sigh. I say "thank you, past Egypt" when I realize I'm benefiting from something mildly or very unpleasant that past me did, too. I find it really makes getting through stuff like cleaning the bathroom or pushing through strenuous exercise easier when I know that the stranger who is me in the future will probably express her appreciation of it; if you have Dumb Things You've Gotta Do, try saying "you're welcome, future me" and see if that helps you get started doing the damn thing. Be sure to start thanking Past Yourself too of course.

Sometimes when I'm cleaning up I refer to myself as Ms. Fussyspider. I will negotiate with Ms. Fussyspider about exactly how much cleaning MUST be done around the apartment/studiobefore she gets sad because everything is just too damn messy. Nobody wants to see a spider cry. Things haven't been anywhere near as neat as Ms. Fussyspider would like them to be lately but she's been pretty understanding of the fact that it's been a hard year. There is a degree of playing at multiple personalities here; I'll go back and forth in my normal voice and hers (she's generally perkier than I default to) about "giving her time to run" as if she's a different program or something. We say "please" and "thank you" and "you're welcome" to each other a lot too, for similar reasons as my habit of thanking Past Me.

When I have suicidal thoughts, I will say "thank you for that lovely contribution, Sosael" to brush them off; Sosael was a post-mortal sadomasochistic snuff-freak horrorshow of a character that I used to play on a text RP environment. She was not a pleasant person to be around; her idea of "fun" often tended to involve someone dying. Herself not excluded. Having a name to hang these kind of thoughts on who is Not Me and who is also resolutely fictional and really not someone I want to be helps a lot.

Sometimes when I'm doing sexytimes things I refer to myself in the third person as Toy.

Also of course there are various insults. Lazy slut. You idiot. Dumbass. Greedy bitch. With varying degrees of aggression depending on how stupid the thing I'm trying to make myself stop doing are.
posted by egypturnash at 1:47 PM on August 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

The first thing I usually say to myself in the morning, after hitting snooze twice and playing with my phone in bed too long, is "Girl it is time to get up!" Sometimes it's "Bitch it is time to get up!" Both of those are things I call myself, when I'm not using my name. Mostly I use my name, though sometimes it's my given name and sometimes it's a shortened form of this username, Rhi.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:47 PM on August 28, 2016

Massively late to this, but I want to thank everyone who has shared. I've previously felt kind of strange for the amount of talking to myself I do, which has definitely increased as I get older and spend more time alone. I haven't worried about having DID or anything, but have wondered how "normal" I am.

Usually I use "you", sometimes "we" - as others have described, it's kind of a coaching "we" like "come on, let's get going now, we really have to get up". Other times it's more explicitly like a kind voice of authority encouraging someone younger - "You know you can do it, it's going to be ok. I'll be right here with you, we can just take it one step at a time." I also check in with myself, like "are you ok? what's going on?" When I'm in the throes of depression, I get very concerned and worried about myself. "Oh sweetie, remember to breathe. Come on, you can stop crying long enough to breathe." This has evolved gradually over years, probably assisted by therapy; I wasn't always so kind to myself. I have previously tried bullying myself, insulting myself and ordering myself around. This does not tend to work very well in terms of getting the thing done, and also makes me feel worse, as it does in real life from other people. It's funny how having had an emotionally abusive partner made me much nicer to myself. Once I figured out what was going on and got out of it, anyway.

I sometimes will thank myself as "past me", like when I panic and think I haven't paid the rent, login to my bank account and realise that actually I set it up as a future payment weeks ago. "Oh! Thanks, past me! Well done!"

I find the idea of calling myself by my name - first, middle or last, or any combination thereof - very very strange. I have a friend who calls me Firstname Middlename and I can hear her voice in my head saying that, but I would never call myself that. It would be as though I was pretending to be her. But I don't like being called by my name; I think I actually like to fly under the radar. If I hear my name, I kind of want to hide. Salespeople etc who call me by my name creep me the hell out. Even from lovers I would rather be called an endearment like sweetie or love. Oddly I do identify with the first letter of my first name, and use it as a stand-in for me in certain situations. It helps that it is an unusual letter.

Like Eleven, I am now contemplating the wisdom of actually posting this. Sensible me is thinking, it's on the internets for everyone to see and younger me is thinking, why would anyone care about reading this stuff about me? Apparently I also have a "fuck it, why not" me which wants to hit the button.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:42 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I very rarely refer to myself in my head, so the thought is just "time to take out the trash" and not "I should take out the trash" or "you" or "we." When I do refer to myself, its usually in the form of a rhetorical question, e.g. "What the hell are you doing?" It's usually second-person, but occasionally first (What the hell am I doing?"). Those sorts of self-references are almost always negative; when I have a positive thought (yay for good thing happening!) its not in the second person (a good thing happened to you!).
posted by craven_morhead at 11:43 AM on August 30, 2016

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