How to Channel Your Mind’s Inner Chatter - Deepstash

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Some of the most important conversations in our lives are the ones we have with ourselves. And conversations can break us as much as they can make us.


How to Channel Your Mind’s Inner Chatter

How to Channel Your Mind’s Inner Chatter


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As naturally as we breathe, we “decouple” from the here and now, our brains transporting us to past events, imagined scenarios, and other internal musings. This tendency is so fundamental it has a name: our “default state.” It is the activity our brain automatically reverts to wh...

You’ve no doubt noticed your own mind wander, as if of its own volition, when you were supposed to be focusing on a task. We are perpetually slipping away from the present into the parallel, nonlinear world of our minds, involuntarily sucked back “inside” on a minute-to-minute basis

Humanity has grappled with the phenomenon of the inner voice since the dawn of civilization. Early Christian mystics were thoroughly annoyed by the voice in their head always intruding on their silent contemplation. Some even considered these voices demonic. Around the same time,...

And yet many of these very same ancient cultures believed that their inner voice was a source of wisdom, a belief that undergirds several millennia-old practices like silent prayer and meditation. The fact that multiple spiritual traditions have both feared our inner voice and no...

The flow of words is so inextricable from our inner lives that it persists even in the face of vocal impairments. Some people who stutter, for example, report talking more fluently in their minds than they do out loud. Deaf people who use sign language talk to themselves too, tho...

Although the inner voice functions well much of the time, it often leads to chatter—the cyclical negative thoughts and emotions that turn our singular capacity for introspection into a curse rather than a blessing. This often happens precisely when we need our inner voice the most—when ou...

Sometimes this chatter takes the form of a rambling soliloquy; sometimes it’s a dialogue we have with ourselves. Sometimes it’s a compulsive rehashing of past events (rumination); sometimes it’s an angst-ridden imagining of future events (

If you’ve ever silently repeated a phone number to memorize it, replayed a conversation imagining what you should have said, or verbally coached yourself through a problem or skill, then you’ve employed your inner voice. Most people rely on and benefit from theirs every day. And ...

But the instruments necessary for reducing chatter and harnessing our inner voice aren’t something we need to go looking for. They are readily available, waiting for us to put them to work. The key to beating chatter isn’t to stop talking to yourself. The challenge is to figure out how to...

A Book On Chatter

In his book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, And How To Harness It, Ethan Kross, professor of psychology and management, experimental psychologist, neuroscientist and writer, r...

Imagine advising a friend.

One way to think about your experience from a distanced perspective is to imagine what you would say to a friend experiencing the same problem as you. Think about the advice you’d give that person, and then apply it to yourself.

Reinterpret your body’s chatter response.

The bodily symptoms of stress (for example, an upset stomach before, say, a date or presentation) are often themselves stressful, worsening your chatter and then getting worse from it. When this happens, remind yourself tha...

Engage in mental time travel.

Another way to gain distance and broaden your perspective is to think about how you’ll feel a month, a year, or even longer from now. Remind yourself that you’ll look back on whatever is upsetting you in the future and it’ll seem much ...

Address people’s emotional and cognitive needs.

When people come to others for help with their chatter, they generally have two needs they’re trying to fulfill: They’re searching for care and support, on the one hand (emotional needs), and concrete advice ...

Tell your kids to pretend they’re a superhero.

This strategy, popularized in the media as “the Batman effect,” is a distancing strategy that is particularly useful for children grappling with intense emotions. Ask them to pretend they’re a superhero or car...

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