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How to Quiet Your Mind Chatter

Nautilus – “We’ve all been there. Stuck in our own heads, fixated on a two-minute conversation from three days ago. We replay it over and over. I shouldn’t have snapped at Dad. He was always so patient when I was growing up. We get stuck. The voice in our heads goes from an ally to a vicious nag, just looping uselessly over the same things, again and again and again. Ethan Kross, an experimental psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Michigan, wants to teach us how to control the voices in our heads. Not the voices of mental illness, mind you, just the little voice we all have, cheerily (or naggingly) narrating our lives as we go about our days. To break the tape loop in your head, talk to yourself as another person. According to Kross, our inner voices can be one of our greatest strengths—when we can control them. Those inner voices can take us to whole other worlds, allow us to imagine different pasts or exciting futures, but they can also trap us in a hell of our own making. In his new book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It, Kross walks readers through a number of different strategies to control mental chatter. A key strategy is “distanced self-talk,” using language to create mental distance from yourself. The best medicine for being stuck on a problem is to gain perspective on it. And a way to gain that perspective is to talk to yourself as if you were another person. You can never be certain what he was thinking, Liz. He might have appreciated your retort…”

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