How to Stop the Chatter in Your Head from Making You Miserable
A Poem: No Prozac for You
Lucy you hang your head whenever you’ve done wrong, yet
You rebound from your guilt at the first friendly gesture.
A “good girl” is all you need to revive your spirit.
No Prozac for you, Lu.
After a few minutes with your head buried in your pillow you’re like a new dog, ready to roll over and play again.
-Robert Pasick, Ph.D in Conversations with My Old Dog
If it only was so easy to overcome sad feelings as it is for a dog who hangs his head for a few minutes and then is ready to get back to happiness.
Ethan Kross’s new book, “Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It” offers us several ways to calm the chatter in our heads and stop making ourselves miserable. His work and research at the University of Michigan is an important extension of cognitive behavioral therapy, which coincidentally I have been using for over 50 years personally and professionally. (To schedule a consultation with me, click HERE)
Last week at my leaders connect event Dr. Kross gave a compelling presentation to over 70 participants on “Behavioral Heath Goals.”
The basic premise of his work is that the chatter in our head conserves us either positively or negatively depending on how we interpret it. Today, in our extremely stressful world, many of us turn the chatter into negative which makes us miserable. Dr. Kross presents compelling research about why his methodologies work effectively and presents many techniques that we can apply in our own lives. I have already successfully applied one of the techniques which he calls “distanced self-talk.” In this technique, he advises that when you’re trying to work through a difficult experience, use your name in the second person to refer to yourself. For example, when I am upset with myself because I’ve made a mistake, instead of chastising me in my mind, I talk to Rob. I may say something like: “Rob, you know you tend to move and think fast. Sometimes it’s best to slow down and think through what you’re going to do before you act. It’s not great, Rob, to have made that mistake again, but hopefully, you can learn to take your time and think things through before you act.”
Here are some other techniques that I have found very useful. I will just list these techniques with the idea that you really should buy the book to learn more about how to practice these very useful sets of skills.
“Broaden your perspective: how this event fits into a broader scheme of your life in the world”
“Reframe your experience as a challenge”
“Reinterpret your bodies chatter response” as an adaptive revolutionary reaction that improves performance under high-stress conditions
“Engaging in mental time travel” where you think about how you’ll feel about a current problem in a month a year or even longer
“Adopt a perspective of a neutral third-party”
“Provide support to others with a similar problem”
“Build a Board of advisors”
“Build order in your environment”
“Increase your exposure to green spaces”
“Seek out awe-inspiring experiences”
These are just 10 out of 26 suggestions for techniques to master the chatter in your head. I highly recommend Dr. Kross’ book. And while you’re at it, please support our local bookstores.
If you are interested in using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, including techniques from Dr. Kross, please schedule a consultation HERE.