The Chatter in Our Heads
As a psychologist who practiced cognitive-behavioral therapy for over 40 years, I was excited to recently read The New Yorker article “Can We Control the Voice in Our Head”. It describes fascinating new research about how we talk to ourselves. I was pleased to learn the researcher, Ethan Kross, was one of my colleagues at the University of Michigan. Dr. Kross runs ‘The Emotion and Self-Control Lab’ at the University. He studies a phenomenon we are all well aware of; the voice in our heads; the silent conversations we all have with ourselves. I bought his book and started to learn more about his work and its application to mental well-being. I eagerly contacted him and he has agreed to be the speaker at our next Leaders Connect, this Friday at 8:30 am.
Kross seems to understand why some people benefit from turning inwards to understand their feelings, while others beat up on themselves and try to block their inner dialogue. I learned Kross has developed some amazing new techniques to help us better manage our inner voice and turn it into a positive tool. He knows those of us who are fortunate to have learned how to constructively quiet our voices are happier; while others turn to drugs are other addictions in a desperate effort to quiet an unpleasant voice from within.
One of Kross’s techniques that I have found extremely innovative and have immediately put to use in my own life is what Kross calls “temporal distancing.” His research finds that if people can project themselves a few years into the future, rather than focusing on today or tomorrow, their problems seem much more temporary and manageable.
Another technique I found very useful, is “distanced self-talk”. One way to create distance when you’re experiencing chatter involves language. According to Kross “When you’re trying to work through a difficult experience, use your name and the second-person ‘you’ to refer to yourself. Doing so is linked with less activation in brain networks associated with rumination and leads to improved performance under stress, wiser thinking, and less negative emotion.” (Rob likes this)
I look forward to hosting Dr. Kross Friday, February 26. If you would like to learn more about applying this process in your own life, please contact me to set up a consultation and I can guide you through some of Dr. Kross’s techniques.
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