Talking to yourself - through puppets
In the last eight lessons of this series, we looked at all sorts of ways to talk to yourself. So far, it has been about doing it either in your mind or simply speaking out loud. Sometimes, though, it is a good idea to use puppets as your props.

When you were younger, your teachers may have told you stories with puppets. You might also have watched The Muppet Show or Sesame Street on TV. If you liked dolls or action figures, you would have transformed them into puppets using your imagination.

For your teachers' storytelling, the TV shows and your pretend play, the figures were probably different characters who talked to one another. That is not how it is with self-talk puppetry. During self talk, both your puppets speak and act for one and the same person. And, that person is you.

How puppetry helps
Puppets can be help you to be focused while talking to yourself. It tends to be easier to stay on task when you are talking to another human being. While you are talking to yourself, you might get distracted, stop the self talk and turn to something else. But, if you use puppets, the puppets give you something to look at and that itself can keep you on task.

When you think through complex issues, you are using two or three voices and often all at the same time. Puppetry allows you to channel those inner voices through the puppets. Not only is that more fun, it also adds a new dimension to your self talk.

Puppetry can be very handy when you are excited or upset about something. At times like that, using puppets helps to slow down your racing thoughts. Slower thinking, in turn, lets you size up what is happening. That is because when you hold up a pair of puppets and pretend the two are talking to each other, you imitate what people do in real life - take turns to speak and listen. This turn taking can have a calming effect.

Once you are calmer, you would be more likely to choose your words carefully and form good sentences to express yourself through your puppet figures. You could also be projecting your feelings onto the puppets and that might help you as well.

You do not need fancy puppets like Kermit, Miss Piggy or Oscar the Grouch. Instead, you can use just about anything - pencils, chopsticks, carrots, spoons - as your puppets.

For each of the following scenes, carry out a brief conversation between your two puppets. To make things simpler, we will assume that you are using pencils as puppets.

Picking a CCA
You have to pick a co-curricular activity at school. You like badminton and cricket equally but the CCA teacher says you are allowed to sign up for only one of them. To help you to decide, weigh the plus and minus points of each one.
Pencil 1: For badminton.
Pencil 2: For cricket.

Rude classmate
A classmate was very rude to you this morning. You are angry. You feel like taking revenge. At the same time, another part of you wants to control yourself and not hurt her in return. What should you do?
Pencil 1: War monger.
Pencil 2: Peace maker.

A cheating friend
You observed a good friend cheating during a test. Your friend does not know you saw her do it. What should you do?
Pencil 1: For doing nothing about it.
Pencil 2: For doing something about it.

Mixed feelings about a party
You have mixed feelings about going to a friend's birthday party at Sentosa beach. You are tempted to go because she is one of your closest friends. But, you are anxious about not knowing many of the other guests. Also, it is a beach party and you do not know how to swim. Decide whether to accept the invitation or not.
Pencil 1: Wants to go.
Pencil 2: Does not want to go.

Neighbourhood bully
A big bully in your neighbourhood picks on you, giving you a hard time whenever you walk pass his gang of friends. You are afraid of him but also determined to put an end to the bullying.
Pencil 1: Frightened.
Pencil 2: Bold.

What does it feel like to use puppets that help you to talk to yourself? Self talk is a powerful way to deal with your feelings about all sorts of incidents. Your feelings are your body's way of letting you know what is going on in you as you face what is happening around you. The pencils, chopsticks or whatever else you use as your puppets can serve as healthy, safe self-talk tools for thinking about your experiences, giving words to your feelings and deciding what to do next.