I recently watched a video called “What to Do If Your Inner Voice Is Cruel” where Ethan Kross discusses the concept of “chatter,” which is the negative aspect of our inner voice. Here are the key points and most interesting insights from his talk:

Key Points:

  1. Chatter and Its Impact:

    • Chatter refers to the dark side of our inner voice, which leads to rumination, worry, and catastrophising.
    • It consumes our attention and makes it hard to focus, creating friction in relationships and leading to irritability and displaced aggression.
    • Prolonged chatter can have severe physical health effects, such as chronic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer, due to the perpetuation of the stress response.
  2. Evolutionary Purpose of the Inner Voice:

    • The inner voice is a tool for survival, helping us navigate the world and solve problems by simulating and planning future events.
    • It aids in self-control and storifying our lives, helping us form narratives that give meaning to our experiences and identity.
  3. Balancing Chatter:

    • While the inner voice can be a remarkable tool, when mismanaged, it becomes detrimental.
    • Managing chatter involves creating a sense of order and control, which can be achieved through various strategies.

Interesting Points:

  1. Rituals as a Coping Mechanism:

    • Engaging in rituals can help manage chatter by providing a sense of order and control. Rituals involve a sequence of behaviours performed the same way each time, creating predictability and reducing feelings of chaos.
  2. Rafael Nadal’s Example:

    • Tennis player Rafael Nadal uses rituals to manage his inner voice. During breaks, he drinks from two water bottles in a specific order and places them back in a precise position. This routine helps him control his thoughts and focus.
  3. Science-Based Toolkit:

    • Kross emphasises the existence of a science-based toolkit to regain control of the inner voice. This toolkit includes strategies that can be implemented individually, through social interactions, and by modifying physical environments.
  4. Personalisation of Tools:

    • No single tool works for everyone in all situations. The challenge is to find the unique combination of tools that work best for each individual to manage their chatter.
  5. Human Condition:

    • Experiencing chatter is a natural part of being human. It’s important to recognise that having a cruel inner voice doesn’t make someone weaker; it simply makes them human. Understanding this can help in addressing and managing negative self-talk more effectively.

Ethan Kross provides valuable insights into how we can harness our inner voice to benefit us rather than allowing it to become a source of distress.