Carrie Bradshaw Syndrome: Constant Inner Monologue; Obsessive Self-Narration of Life; The Voice Inside Your Head That Is Constantly Thinking. Questions Everything That Has Occurred, is Presently Occurring, and Could Possibly Occur in Your Life. Synonym: Overthinking
I am not a mental health professional. All posts are based on personal experiences and opinions.
Have you seen the viral article Do You Have an Inner Monologue? I first discovered that people do not have a constant inner monologue while watching the movie Stranger Than Fiction. In the movie, Harold Crick, played by Will Ferrell, finds that his life is suddenly being narrated by an author by the name of Karen Eiffel, played by Emma Thompson. Karen is writing a novel about a character by the name of Harold Crick, and her narrations take over Harold’s thoughts and actions.
I turn to my friend and say:
“I constantly narrate my life like Karen is narrating Harold’s.”
“Um what?” my friend asks. I go on about how I hear my voice talking to myself almost all day, that it never really “turns off.” Whether it is reliving events from the past, and how I wish I could change how I handled them, or thinking about worse case scenarios that could happen. It is as if I was writing a book in my head, where I was the author and the main character. My friend tells me that his brain is not like this and it could not possibly be good for my head-space to be constantly thinking about things from the past I could not change or events that could happen to me, especially when they were leaning towards the negative.
I thought about how long I had been doing this for what seemed like my whole life. I could remember doing it when I was in High School, and it dawned on me. It was as if I loved Sex and The City so much that I started to write “stories” in my head much like Carrie Bradshaw wrote her articles. I had turned my inner monologue into a “story-like” narration a la Carrie Bradshaw, which resulted in almost obsessive overthinking.
Two examples that stick out the most is reliving my ex-husband telling me he was leaving me, and how I would change the way I reacted, what I said, even changing his words and reactions in my head. The other is how I would react if I caught my then boyfriend cheating on me. He never cheated on me nor have I caught someone cheating on me but my insecurities would cause me to create these story lines in my head. I would spend almost my whole day either reliving the past or making up the future in my head. These hypothetical reenactments only lead to me being angry, anxious, and insecure.
I have a theory that having a constant inner monologue leads to having anxiety and depression. When this inner monologue can’t turn off, one constantly thinks about the past, thinking about how they would change it if they could. This often leads to feelings of anger and/or depression because of our inability to change the past. Moreover, when one sits and worries about what could happen, usually the worst-case scenarios are the thoughts that come to mind, those thoughts then lead to feelings of anxiety.
Coping With Constant Inner Monologue
As someone who struggles with anxiety, depression, and Carrie Bradshaw Syndrome aka Constant Inner Monologue, I believed that was me, I couldn’t change it. Then I discovered meditation—I plan to go into meditation more in an upcoming blog post but for simplicity’s sake and so this blog doesn’t become 10 pages long. The idea of meditation is learning how to clear your mind, when a thought comes, let that thought come and go, then focus on the present, usually your breathing. Learning how to let thoughts go and just be; to redirect your focus when you have intrusive thoughts, slowly but surely diminishes this constant inner monologue. You also learn that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts are just what they are. Things that come into your mind, they do not make you who you are as a person.
When I realize I am overthinking, I first notice how it is making me feel. Angry? Sad? Depressed? Anxious? Then I redirect my attention to something more constructive. Either by focusing on mindfulness and being present in my current situation. Also, figuring out what I learned from the situation I am thinking about, or to focus on the breath/meditate.
Another coping skill I use to cope with feelings from my constant inner monologue is to write about them. Journaling is amazing for my mental health. It is as if I take all the negative thoughts in my head and by putting them on paper, they are being “deleted” from my brain. I do not worry or get angry about them. I find this great for irrational anger towards significant others. Being able to write it out is a release that doesn’t result in an argument or resentment.
It is important for Carrie Bradshaw Syndrome sufferers to find coping skills that diminish their constant inner monologue. Focus on being present, learning from the past, and turning “What Would I do” thoughts into more productive habits.