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Living Life as a Literal Thinker

Updated on September 21, 2019
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I attend the University of The Living. All my education comes from first-hand experience's life throws my way.

Can A Literal Thinker Communicate Properly?

Actually, being a literal thinking person, I communicate too properly in a metaphorically speaking world. Taking each word in a sentence given to me as the factual meaning leaves me dazed and confused on trying to understand why you speak in a riddle.

Let me explain myself ... literally ...

Unknown Artist
Unknown Artist | Source

The Top Parts I Want To Speak About

** I will be speaking about my life as a literal thinker because I can not literally speak for another.


I do not have Autism or Asperger's Syndrome


A metaphorically induced joke is the worst for my literal brain to comprehend.


How I have adapted to the relaxed sayings with the English language, but I get told to "relax" when I do not understand a metaphor. Which is very confusing.

So ... You Have Jokes, Now Do You?

As a literal thinker, I learn from a tender age that not all people on earth properly used the meaning of the English vocabulary. That somewhere in time, people turned to metaphors and labeled it communication. Then in that tattered and torn decision, required me to jump on the bandwagon to keep up.

"Bandwagon". The perfect metaphor to start with.

The first time this metaphor was introduced to me was in middle school. A teacher told me I did not have to hang out with the wrong group and join their "bandwagon" of poor decision making. Now, while that is NOW very clear to understand, it was the hardest thing to process back then. And I was too scared to ask questions. But I walked away thinking about "Bandwagon".

Bandwagon is a wagon used to carry a band in a parade. Heck yes I want to be part of this group but how on earth are they making poor decisions because they are in a parade playing instruments?

Literal thinking. If that does not best describe it, allow me to give you another one my mother use to use on me, that I later figured out and have in turn used in a few of my sentences.

"I swear child, you are as slow as a snail." - Mom's metaphorical quote.

Then here I go, thinking how slow a snail is. They do not move but barely a fraction of a second. I am running around in a circle in my bedroom trying to find my hairbrush. How could it be that she thought I was moving that slow?

I did not understand that she was meaning I was taking to long to get into the car for church.

Before I go any further, please let me explain that this literal thinker has adapted to many metaphorical sayings, such as the ones mentioned above. But that does not mean my brain first does not go to the literal side. Metaphors in my life are can not be wired inside my brain cavity to accept as normal. I have had to teach myself that you un-literal speakers, enjoy testing my limits, and have come to enjoy many of your funny, twisted sayings. For example ... and I am sure you can properly place these in an area of your life where these have been used ...

"That is so cheesy"
"Back the (heck) up"
"Get out of town"
"They can't think for nothing"
"She is really into herself ..."

Never fails when I hear these very commonly used phrases, no matter how I am now pushing 50 years old, I have to stop and ask the number question of .. "What do you mean?"

Responses to My "What Do You Mean" ...

What do you mean, what do I mean?"


"You didn't get it?"


"Didn't you see (or hear) what just happened?"


There is nothing wrong with how I think. How other literal thinkers function. We are not usually hard to spot when you are conversing with us. We bow to the literal meaning of every English definition as if it were a God. The meaning of our sentences are factual, to the point, and do not sway into metaphorically speaking. If we tell you "We do not feel good", it is not because we "Are under the weather." We are not standing outside in a lightning storm. We mean we are feeling ill.

Literal thinkers can be seen struggling with a metaphorical joke. It nearly places us in a trying to get it coma. Then we hear "Geeze, you can't take a joke" or "You need to relax."

You told the joke. Where am I taking it to, exactly? And why must I relax because you are speaking outside of the proper definition of the meaning inside this so-called joke?

We are not hard to spot. At the same time, we are no different than anyone else. Because literally speaking, science has proven time and again that no two persons think the same. We may have agreements on what is being said or we are "thinking the same thing" at that very moment but when that thought is broken down, they are not identical.

The point is simple. Everyone needs to accept a literal thinker as someone who is as educated, and bright, as the metaphorical speaker. One being more about the factual definition of words does not lessen the mental strength of someone who says "Let's take a walk with the sun", as a way that could have been better expressed for me as "Let's take a walk." We are BOTH brilliant, in our own ways.

The biggest reason for this article is for the non-literal thinker to better understand why literally speaking persons function the way they do. Forget about the science that layers the web on this topic and the experiments that have been completed in the medical world. Let me be straight forward based on my own life.

Straight forward talking is how I process everything. Some take it as rude because I do not tone it down with what I am saying. It is hard for me to process why a literal meaning can insult someone. But I suppose that is another topic for later on.

For now, just know I adapt to your metaphors by asking "What do you mean?". If we ever meet, be as patient with me, as I am being with you. We can do this. :)

I say ... You say ...

I say : I love this ice cream. Straight forward and to the meaning.
I say : Wow he says that phrase a lot. It means just that.
I say: I love you so very much. You mean everything to me.
You say: Lick it like you love it. Which sounds foul and dirty to me.
You say: If I had a quarter every time he said that, I would be rich. Which if you do the math would never make you rich.
You say: I love you to the moon and back. I am like ... while that is not a short trip, it's not forever.
You say: Nothing is better than ice cream. Which leaves me confused because brownies are good, too.
You say: Do that again and I will string you up. I am like ... OMG! With what? Rope? And where at? Holy crap that's mean!!
You say: Don't make me give you something to cry about. I'm thinking... I am already crying. You want me to cry about something else?
Literal thinking is normal for me. I love it. This is why no one is ever left wondering what I am thinking. When you walk away from me, you will know to the wire that there is no second-guessing what is being delivered. (Did someone order a pizza
Unknown artist
Unknown artist

How Do You Think?

Have you ever had struggles with us literal thinkers? Perhaps you are a literal thinker who hates metaphors? I would love to hear your story in the comments below. :)


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