Rubber ducking

I’ve been meaning to write about this for months. I learned this from one of my clients who’s a programmer. Apparently when you’re stuck with a programming problem you’re supposed to talk it through with a rubber ducky. I’m unclear on whether or not it’s a real or metaphorical rubber duck. Either way, I love it!

I know that I have talked about self-talk in the past. But this is another great opportunity to discuss it and think about why it works. And I feel a little validated that other people in the world do this enough that it’s a thing in computer science.

Maybe I should start by explaining what it helps with before I go on to how it helps. As ADD people we have a tendency to get into the weeds, to use a restaurant term, inside our own heads. We can overthink things. We can use all or nothing / black and white thinking. We can catastrophize with the best of them. It can get ugly. I find that one of the most significant contributors to our feeling overwhelmed is when we let everything swirl around in our heads instead of letting it be real out in the world. Inside our heads thoughts can twist and magnify and cause more distress than clarity.

Now if you had an anxiety it gets even worse. Not much can affect your functioning more negatively then the nest full of vipers inside your brain that is a clinical level of anxiety. So, we need to get those snakes out of your dome. How do we do that? Stop thinking and start doing. And even talking, writing, outlining can be ways to start doing. They are certainly ways to make your thoughts real. How many times have you said something out loud and thought, “that sounded much better in my head.” This is the inverse of that. That thing that seems like it makes so much sense in your head doesn’t quite pass muster in the light of day.

I also think that it has to do with learning modalities. We all have our preferred learning modalities. Usually it’s a conglomeration of some strengths and some weaknesses in the different areas. But most research indicates that multiple modalities is usually the best way for most people to learn. If you’re only thinking about something you’re only engaging your conceptual learning modality. But if you’re talking out loud you are verbally processing and listening to yourself and auditorily processing. Three seems better than one in this case.

take away. Talking to yourself is not just for crazy people anymore. Do it.