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#365: The Voice in Your Head | Ethan Kross


The craving, complaining, and comparing voice in our heads can be the source of incalculable suffering, but is it all bad? And are there ways to talk to yourself that can turn your inner voice into a powerful ally? 

Ethan Kross is a Professor in the University of Michigan’s top ranked Psychology Department and its Ross School of Business and the author of the new book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters, and How to Harness It. 

In this conversation, we talk about why we have voices inside our head, how they can be either a blessing or a curse, how to access your inner coach rather than your inner critic, how changing our outer environment can impact your inner environment, and how you can use the much-maligned social media for support.

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Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/ethan-kross-365 

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
From ABC this is the ten percent happier podcast, I'm Dyin Harris again. We had a good one for each Dago. I got a lot out of this conversation actually advent since refusing Some of the suggestions from from my guest, in my own mind in the subsequent days and weeks since we first recorded, listen and it's been very, very helpful, anyway. So what am I talking about here? We talk about the craving complaining, comparing voice in our heads that can to state the obvious, be the source of incalculable suffering, but here's a provocative and is that voice all bad and Arthur Ways to talk yourself. That
turn your inner voice into a powerful ally. My guest today has a ton of research back strategies for inner counter programming and he is actually personally done a lot of this research and, as I said earlier, many of these strategies I have found personally to be deeply helpful. Ethan Cross is a professor in the University of Michigan top ranked psychology department and its Ross School of business is also the author of a pretty new book called chatter. The subtitle is the voice in our head, why it matters and how to harness it was, flattered when I learned that eaten had used a line from one of my books, ten percent happier as one of the ever grass in his book, the line he chose was voice in my head is an exploitative that begins with the letter egg. In this conversation, we
about why we have voices in our heads how these voices can either be blessings or curses, in other words, that they are not always expletive. That begin with a how to access your inner coach rather than your inner critic, why mental time apple can actually be very helpful. Notwithstanding the emphasis in the meditation world on dang in the now the power of rich, walls, unlucky charms. I was kind of surprise: the Euro scientists talk about that house. changing your outer environment can impact your inner environment, how you can help other people with their chatter. And how you can use the much maligned social media world first support before we dive in here a little item of business as you are about to hear even and I are gonna talk, a lot about how the voice in our head can actually be a blessing. But of course, this process of harnessing the inner Dick and transforming it into an inner coach can be a difficult one,
As you may remember this past January, during our new year's challenge, we ran a whole series of helped. You do just that. We took a fresh look at the admittedly at least for some of us, somewhat gooey notion of self love and explain exactly how to meet your self identify failings if compassion rather than shame and self loving the sessions from the This challenge our actually now available to subscribers on the ten percent happier app in the courses tab. So go download the app today to check out the sessions and practice d, farming, your inner critic for more now. On that very same subjects, and- and I should say he adds, at that we haven't really covered before in Tpa world. So he's gonna get a lot of value here here, go now with even cross, the cross welcome today, Oh thanks for having me been looking forward to this conversation for awhile me too.
Why do we have this voice in our heads were? If you get we blame evolution, and then what was evolution. Thinking wonder what was dead, natural selection thinking, to the extent that natural selection things at all when the bequeathed us this racing mind weak Point evolution by whether we blame evolution. Thank it, I think, is an open question and I like to suggest that we should thank evolution, not blame it, and so the reason for that Is this voice in our hands? although we often describe it as a terrible nuisance, some people have been known to use expletive even describing the voice in their head. If you ve heard of those those folks. But if we take a few steps back and think about What we're talking about when we talk about this voice, we're talking about our ability, asylum may use language to reflect on our lives and that capacity distinguishes us from all other species, and it provides us with a remarkable set of two.
rules, and so just to give you a couple of examples of what this voice our had allows us to do in the most basic sense. It allows the keeper and negative verbal and nation active in our heads, so you're the grocery store need to remember what you have to buy: cheesecake, yogurt eggs and projecting here by the way, when I have to collate that in my mind, not our lab, silently, that's a voice in my head. Allow me to do that. The voicing our head is part of what we call our are verbal, working memory system, so very basic system human mind that is absolutely essential for us to live. the kind of life that we normally do. So that's one thing at the voice and had let us do it also lets us, other things like simulating plan. So before I give a presentation, I often go a walk around the neighbourhood or by cried and I'll, see me what I'm in a say on that stage. The next day in my head I'll, go through all the talking point.
I'll get to the end, and then because I maybe some masochistic tendencies. I'll even imagine the worst possible thing that a person the audience can ask me and then I ll sing How am I to respond? That's a voice in my head for me that ability to stimulate is critical to me doing the kind of job that I hope to do, which is a good one and then finally, the voice in our head helps us makes sense of who we are so one bad things happen and we experienced loss or adversity. We are in turn our attention inward trying to make sense of what we're going through to try to create a story or a narrative to explain our circumstances and we use the voice in her head to help us do that so I think this voice, our head, is really remarkable tool with caviar that it often can conspire against our so often We do try to use this tool to help us
live our lives, so we experience something bad. We turn our attention. we're retry tell a story. We often gets duck ruminating and worrying and catastrophes using which are not particularly nice, mental states and that's and eggs, couple of when the tool is no longer servant, a swell and the question becomes. What do we do when we find ourselves in those circumstances? So I don't think it is a curse of evolution. I think it's a blessing that can some times worth into a curse and the real challenge we face as a species is deferred. How do we harness this tool to make it work let us rather than against us added, it makes a lot of sense. Notwithstanding my prominent use of export is described the voice in my my head. It is a blessing bad and it can be a curse. Do you think of it
as one voice in our heads or that we all have multiple voices different modes we can go into because I know there are schools of thought in psychology that we have many voices might have a jealous voice and angry voices. The generous voice in this is a healthy mind, not some of mental illness, yes, that's right! I mean this is a healthy mind and a mind in all its glory. It's a flexible mind, that's capable of having us here different messages, so some people- can hear that critical voice and that often why people bemoan- oh, my god and being so hard and myself. We could also be a coached ourselves. We could be supportive, sometimes You know what I'm struggling with bit of warrior anxiety. I often hear my high school russen coach, give me a directive com. by my nickname and Tom. I can do it and actually we could actually here and stimulate other people's voices as well. So I can hear my mom or my dad, I mean
it. Can you out further back to you? Is it easy for you, if you just now? wanna, hear your mom say something actually hear her voice in your head. Yeah yeah sets of that that's totally normal the device between normal c and abnormal. Or healthy, functioning, and unless healthy functioning is when we hear different voices, and we don't realize that they're coming from our own mind, we think that these voices are being implanted by other organizations or beings word. My mom is literally in my head. That's when we get to the domain of cycle pathology? But if you can hear differ voices the angry, the confident among the dead in a welcome to them.
the of the human mind in the human condition. So you you talk before about how this voice in our head or as we ve, now sort of complicated. It usefully voices this system this mind is a blessing, but it can be a curse him. It really comes down to. How do you harness the voice or voices? How do you access the inner coach as opposed to the inner critic? Could I think many of us are familiar with a ladder. Later, that's the question that I've been I've been interested in that for over twenty years and studying it for that on and the first message I think, that's important to convey there's, no single tool that works for all people at all situations. What we ve learned is that there are multiple tools that people can use to harness this voice, make it more supportive, less go on dysfunctional in my book. I talk about twenty six friend tool, so there really is quite a variety and one of the thing,
that were learning is that the people who do best in managing their chatter. Their worry. The rumination are the people who are skilled at using combinations of healthy tools, not just one but combinations like having these these cocktails that certainly not non alcoholic is cheesy is that sounds. I do need to give the disclaimer, because some people resort alcohol to to do this in that's an unhealthy tool. I like to break it down. These tools is falling into three. Buckets there are there are things you can do in your own. There are ways of harnessing your relationships with other people and then- and I find this last bug a truly fascinating. There are ways of interacting with your physical spaces the world around us that can be used. full for managing the conversation that we're having inside ourselves so weak. If we go back to the first pocket, one of the things we know is that when people are experiencing chatter, they often get stuck in his tunnel.
asian, these zoom in on the problem, what's happening You know how my feeling and zoom in so narrowly often becomes difficult for them. To think about what going through that might make them feel better, and so one of the things we ve is that one one antidote to chatter is to help people step back to distance themselves, so that they could focus on their experience more objectively to get some mental space from the event, and there are lots of ways that People can do this. This idea, certainly prevalent in many forms of mine from us in meditation being that kind of serving mind, but there their modalities that allow people to activate this distancing that don't involve meditation salami. Let me tell you about to these also happen, to be two tools that that I personally rely on quite a bit one tool, there's something called distant self talk, and what
involves doing is silently coaching ourselves through a problem like we would give advice to another person and actually use language to help us do that and what I mean by that is use your own name, and the second person An you when you struggling with chatter to try to work. There are even how are you gonna manage this situation, one of the thing we know from lots of research is that we are much better at advising other people than we are taking our own advice and what distant self talk does is it? Is it uses language to shift our perspective together ass to relate to ourselves like we were communicating with another person which thrusts us into this coaching mode believed in research Listen! It's really amazing! When you look at when you ask people what's going through their head when they're trying to work through a problem in the first person I mean they're, saying things
to themselves that they would never say to another person like when you when you're thrust in chatter- and you're you're going down the dark side, and we would you ever say dear your wife or your friend. What you are thinking in Saint yourself. That's a question to you. No definitely not what maybe on my worst day, but now generally, not rightly Don't say those things when a friend comes to us with a problem. We are where support as we are their coach and what we see happening is, when you said, using your name. That puts you into that mode of responding. Why does that work? Why does that work so quickly? if you think about when we use names right most, the time that we use names. We names and second person pronouns when we think about and refer to other people, so the linguistic link between those parts of speech and thinking about others, super type, and so when you use your own name to think about yourself, it puts us into this mode of interacting with ourselves that we were our own friend. That's one thing you
do another really easy thing to do. That is nonetheless, quite effective is something we call temporal distancing or mental time travel. So if you're really struggling with an acute Strasser think about how you feel about it six months from now on you're from now. What jumping into that mental travel machine allows us to do, is ready is that what we're going through as awful as it is when we think about how things will be future or how they were in the past. That makes it we're going for you right now, as awful as it is its temporary it'll, eventually
ass? An act gives us hope, which can also be pretty useful for people again chatter. We ve arrived at that point in the interview, whereas a thousand questions, and I will try to figure out what order to go in, because I want a really unpack. Some of these practical techniques AEGIS described, but first it just curative definitions. You referred to chatter a couple of times that chatter is a term of art of yours, it's a specific Sub group of the voice in our head. If I understand correctly, am I right about that? You ve got it. Chatter is the dark side of the inner voice and when it refers to specifically, is getting stuck in a negative thought. Loop soon in a negative thoughts themselves are something that we want to avoid or rid ourselves of negative emotions,
really really useful to be able to experience negative emotion in small doses, their elegantly adapt fight if a child can't experience pain The trial doesnt know to pull their hand away from us, stove when their hands being burned. That's not good for them. The ability try a little bit of anxiety. Anger! That's useful when it gets not used, or maladaptive is when we pursue every on these negative experiences over and over and over again, and that's what chatter is in technical terms, when we're experiencing chat about the past determination when its charter about the future, that's often called worry. The constant theme is this looping over and over again so you talk about a couple ways to knock ourselves at a chatterer. No yourselves, I, the chatter, might be more gentle verb. The first one was distant self talk. It remain dear me of techniques that I've heard described
the researchers and experts in this field of self compassion, including Kristen Neff, increase grammar of both been on the show and talk about talking to yourself like a friend, often accompanying it with physical touch. You know for me, just gotta put tat my chest and I don't necessarily referred myself as Dan, but I may refer to myself as you'd does when describing square with what you are recommending. It does does there's a lot of overlap. Dude each man, that's an order. My high school nicknames that are sometimes sometimes years, all those give us some psychological space and they involve using language to help us do that. Now, when we do studies on this, we often put bring people the lab and put them in really stressful conditions and then have them try to work through their stress in the first person
and are using their name and then all will get them to say out loud what what's going through their heads. People are in it coach mode for sure when they're using their name, but it's not always super soothing in the way, that my wife might be soothing to me after I put my foot my mouth at a cocktail hour. I hate the sun is like get your act together. Stop this nonsense and do your job you ve done it before so pray, Stir I mean kind of, like my wrestling coach rate and to theirs. Mobility in the tuna, thirty two We cogia our ourselves to a problem. I think that an important point to convey we want to be absolutely compassionate with ourselves and treat ourselves with the same kind of dignity that we treat others, but very billion, how that can manifest, and it doesn't always take the form of it's gonna, be ok at least not none. More studies
but otherwise yeah squares, we really well. The touching part touches a powerful tool. It's probably most primitive tool that that we have soothing soothing right when babies are born into the world skin diskin contact we hold them. The studies have looked at. What's them, ocean on the skin of affection intention is like this kind of gentle caressing motion that characterize it, that activates distressed fighting response in the she had an automatic release of various stress fighting chemicals that help alleviate the chatter. I typically think about that, as a form of it is falling into that second bucket of tools right, the people tools exist and, I think, touches one kind of tool that involves relationship. So if my way it, is really struggling to chatter meagre were to her putting my hand on her back right
how's it going like that's a useful way of me helping her with her chatter, I haven't thought about in the context of the the self touching which interesting to see that those findings with generalise there. My sets out of guessing and Christopher Chris, can correct, be subsequently they want. But my guess is that they would say. Tough love is still love damn that it's totally kosher within their world view to speak, like a coach, you still want the best for you button make me two jar you out of whatever right you win with a little bit more intensity, yeah that and squares beautifully with this linguistic to what I think is need about focusing on the linguistic element. user name, the pronoun, you hear your favorite nickname. Is it it's a notch at works really quickly that you can rely on in a crash,
I'd rather than having to adopt the mindset are. Let me try to coach myself through this beggars. Talker, my body you just use your name, and it instantly gets you to that point. So to waive interview being with precision as soon as the chatter strikes, it gets you to the point seeing the chatter for what it is, has chatter and putting you into that coach mode, ways are already than you now know. People often ask me: hey you study, chatter, have you ever expire Instead, he her paws and like yeah, I've experienced it and what I've told them is You don't know about these different tools that exists. Doesn't ridge you from experiencing chatters often hard to predict when it's gonna happen, but what now about these different tools does allow you to do is be a lot more done, bring about how you engaged with the chatter and firm. And others. It is alive, me to nip it in the bud much more quickly than if I just wait
to stumble on different ways of making myself feel better. If I didn't know about these science based tools, just a bit of a digression here on the coach mode, coach mode feels good and it feels good to me at least internal. And externally, and I just wonder whether it may be war now into your second bucket here. But in recent years I've tried to make it a practice to make myself more available to other people, to coach them. To accept that I've been useful to say you do. Occasionally, Episodical, but, but I have noted, That is actually really enlightened self interest because The more my mind is in coach mode either. visa free, my own chatter or visa fees. Somebody else to chatter balmy or the weather internally. Does that it makes sense to use any research to back this up or do you think I'm just pull stuff out of my rear. Her! No! Not at all to findings come to mind. The first is
there's a lot of evidence showing that one of the best ways to make our how's feel better is to make other people feel better, so helping others Helps ourselves and serve being a good adviser, our culture, our friend too, to someone else and really constructively helping them work through their chatter being a mentor. The science would suggest that shouldn't just help that other person, but it's actually help you as well because by building them up that has these reverberating effects for yourself so so that's one element of it. There's another element which is there. Some research shows that giving advice to other people helps us with our own problems. Right for this. For very similar reasons that we talk about before distant self talk like you don't say a buddy comes to me. The problem, and here I give them advice, and maybe I'm dealing with a very similar problem at work. Look I just gave them a really objective.
Thoughtful response about all the mark of the chatter, which would contaminate possibly my own attempt to help myself right so by giving the advice to others, We're still listening to what we are saying to that person and that's another without being a good adviser to someone else, can feedback to help ourselves. That makes sense, and also I just noticed that when I made the coachman with other people, unless the self centered, unless stuff in my own story, which generally, in my experience, feels better than being stuck in my own story. Well, I think you're talking about distances, at least in the language that I intend to use to describe these things and have chatters all about being totally immersed self centered right in the eye homeless. That is my current predicament right. If you can broaden your perspective, and there are lots of ways you could do it talking other people's another way. That should relieve the chatter based on the site
interesting though Dan and I'd actually like tat. Maybe turn the tables here and ask you a couple more questions about this, because you mention You recently started doing this in the sense of you now you ve discovered that talking others in helping them helps you. Presumably it helps them to. I would think right. He liked the theoretically here. What's yours, what's really interesting to me, there are lots of beliefs about how we can get help from other people and how we can help others, and a lot of the site and suggests that many of these common assumptions we have actually help other people were ourselves and so to make that concrete. A lot of us think that, if you're dealing with TAT her find someone to talk to and just let it out, venture emotions express it and there's been research which has looked at the consequences of that kind of vending an expression
for how we feel and what we ve learned is venting can be really good for strengthening the friendship bonds between two people makes us feel closer and connected it's great to know that call you and your will in turn to emphatically listen and engaged me and to be clear. That is important to have good friendship, bonds and in one's life, but if all you do who is vent in a conversation. All you do is express your emotions that doesn't do anything to help us refrain. The waiver thinking about the problem doesn't do anything to provide us with solutions or advice that ultimately help us knit that problem in the bud and so in experiments. People leave these van sessions and they feel great about the person they just talk to, but their fuming over what they just talked about it, it's kind of like you, just don't feel on the fire, hey what happened to you in your last interview? No way, you said that I can't believe what
You know you're, just reactivating the negativity so the best kinds of. Conversely, since, when it comes to chatter, actually do two things one we do want to then? The little bit it is important for the other person were talking to be able to understand what we're going through what happen tat the empathic connections, but a certain point in the conversation they ideally not Judah, brought in your perspective. To think about that bigger picture. Hay was one crappy interview. You know, ve done thousands of interviews and succeeded Lex, one's gonna. Be fine or you know, here's what I do when I have a bad enough, so anything to kind of broad. In that perspective, to help the person refrain, that's the two step process to getting good support from others and, on the flip side, being a better chatter adviser to other people. Our lives. Yeah. That's step, makes a lot of sense to me in
the mistake that I was making. Interestingly- and I don't think this is on common is when I was talking to other people. I would sometimes not let the van don't go on long enough and I would rush to solutions, because I was trying to alleviate my own pain because the other person we making me anxious- and I didn't want- That'S- why we try to put out the fire and make them feel better, but also make myself feel better, and so it seems like what I've learned over time is to really validate ever going on for people and make sure that they feel hurt or seen or whatever, then move to okay. Well, can we contractual as this can we take about what the ways to move forward might be exactly right and there's an art to doing this right, because the amount, time a person needs to vent is going to depend on the person and seemed depend on the nature of the situation that we experiencing chatter about see you ve gotta, you ve, gotta, feel it out, and so, when I'm talking to people,
if they're coming to me for support all list. Let them go I'll. Ask some questions: hey you, wanna people, I asked you type higher prices something else her either way. Fine by me- and sometimes I just one. keep talking you know. Just yes, just listen, and at other times you please give me advice. that's. Why I'm me I'm here for support, so I No one about the structure of this, this to step, process validate and broaden. That gives us a bit of a blueprint for how to injury to these conversations and then you can adjust based on who you're talking to what their dealing. With with how long you stay in each state so I think that's one way you can use this science in your life. The other way in the other important thing take them a comes out of this element of a conversation is knowing about these principles. It allows us to be deliberate about who we, who we go to for support when it comes to our chat
I often job, but I'm actually being serious, that there are many people in my life who, who me dearly and I then dearly- and I know this with certainty- lots of people who who really they gonna to be there for me, but I know that if I Oh and talked him that my chatter all there do is is read me up because they're gonna keep me in that venting mode and so when I leave that conversation, I'm not going to be experiencing last chatter. In fact, I'm going to be predisposed to experience more, so I'm really deliberate about who I go to for support either like three people I go to in my personal. for people I go to for work related issues and that's like that's my board. and I use that board of advisers. Quite a bit and they in turn, use me and so again, it's about being deliberate, using the science to be more
deliberate about how we try to harness the chatter and our lives, have memory serves in your book we recommend that we all set up boards yeah. I think that what do boards due for companies boards of advice to their youth, if carefully selected individuals who have the expert he's to guide this company to success, and you rely on a board during heart difficult times, and you know, I think that we would all benefit from having a personal board of advisers. We can rely on when we are experiencing difficult times, theirs, certainly enough data to back up the value that having the right of social relationships can have before a health early on. You can imagine that we're gonna go through several buckets here when it comes to harnessing and a healthy way, the voices in her head and minimizing chatter, which is the dark side of the voice, and the first bucket was individual techniques. The second is technics, involve other people in the third was techniques and involves Europe,
environment around you revenue and serve dipped our toeing the third buck yet. But I ought to go back to the first bucket for a second, because, a while ago you talked about mental time travel. I think it would be interesting for this audience, because a lot of the socialists in the show you are interested, meditation and in meditation there's a way in which you can get the idea that, if you're not in the present moment, always your misbehaving as a meditative. But your argument is the ok sure, yes being in the present moment, which is what mindfulness requires he know being able to step out of whatever thought. Urge emotion is flitting across sheer consciousness right now. Yes, that that can have lots of salutary effects, but there are ways to harness the thinking mind to travel forward and backwards. That don't involve the pitfall. rumination nor anxiety and really do involve providing a broader context that might knock out of chatter. Please come if I've stepped out of
accuracy. There know you you step into accuracy and- and I'm so glad you- you brought this up because being in the moment, can be great, as you suggest, and there's a wealth of data suggesting that mindfulness embedded meditations that focus on doing that can have real value justice? side, I think of meditation mindfulness as one kind of tool that can be very helpful when it comes to chatter, but there are lots of other tools that exist as well. And I think if we want to give people the best shot at managing their chatter effectively in your life. You really want to give them the whole toolbox right, not just one. So, let's talk about time the human mind did not evolve to always be in present. We are mental time travellers. We spend more of our time, not in fact being in the present going back and forth in time and lots of wonderful things at being able to travel in time can do for us. We can
and from our our past. We can save her pass conquests and victories makes us like, I'm Emma Jane come here. You know conquering the wear away, like a presentation that, when really well or like my My daughter, like scorn to those last week in the soccer game like savouring those moments like that: the source of a north satisfaction right, like there's research, which shows that if you want to really boost people's happiness, haven't focus on experiences, spend money on experiences. Go on a great fine vacation with your family and in part three, for that is unlike a watch whose value quickly wears off You could think about those amazing moments. You ve had with your family throughout your life and gives you joy, so traveling in time I into the past can be really helpful going. To the future. Likewise, like you know, I'm gonna guess that you often prepare for your interviews with other people. You think really care
about what you're going to say and you do the kind of simulations that I talked about earlier right that are in a voice help. Last year. I found what, if I say, listen- and this I mean do you do that- I will mean less than you might have an iron making on you. I feel bad because undoubtedly so I'm a run here, but at times you probably diet, yeah, yes, yes, advert conversations to ever conversation so were travelling in time. We're using our mind in all its glory, so to speak. what we ve learned is we can get stuck when we're travelling in time. We could get stuck in the past MR stuck in the future, when were worried or ruminating once again, into that is to bring us back to the moment, but what we, So now is that there are ways of getting He has better mental time travellers and that's where I think a lot of these tools. Let us do they. Let us go back in time into tat. Tories that might otherwise be sticky right there otherwise led us to ruminate, but some
This will allow us to grapple with those past or future experiences. More effectively in ways that don't led us to spiral, so I don't think we should all. Be in the moment. I think we want to be strategic about. One ran the moment. Guy totally great. I think that it's hard to be in the moment and we are not programme to be in the moment that much in it, and I think that is toward detriment, and so it is worth training up the skill of being in the moment, because there is some evidence that we are often happier when we're paying attention to what's happening right now, as opposed to stuck in fretful projection nor reminisced. About the pass. Your second thing, I'd say is: it seems to me that there is a buddhist analog to what you're describing here about. You know travelling back in time to think about. You know when
man scored that lacrosse goal or whatever it is? You know you pass triumphs, pass glories nor your daughter score some goals and a soccer game that that can ease the mind right now. The buddhist analogue is sometimes referred to. As contemplating your see le. Sea lies? Ancient words spelled ass, I lay in English and its basically means ethical conduct, so contemplating you're seal something a teacher, a buddhist teacher might tell you to do meaning thinking about the good things you ve done, that that being the moment, that is using mental time travel to savour your capacity to not be a schmuck, and I don't do that enough I can easily run a story about what a rotten person I am running for a long time, and it can land for some people as either ourselves cystic or like contemplating yours
Oh wow, I haven't done anything good. This is the kind of some sort of punishment, but in fact I think, there's a lot to recommend this technique. Anyway, I said a lot: there does does anyone, land with you yeah. I think you know what you're describing is the nuance that exists in buddhist philosophy and many of these eastern philosophical traditions that it is sometimes lost in its true. Insulation for mass consumption, when I talk to people in the book, philosophical worlder, east and philosophical world, the ideas talking about, aren't are typically thought of as heretical, but instead very much compatible with these traditions. The message is often conveyed to people in society is being the moment. All the time- and that is a gross oversimplification- I think, of these very sophisticated practices which have multiple components to them,
as well. None of what you're saying is heretical to me at least yeah. Well, that's good! That's good keeps a conversation. A little bit more pleasant One other thing, just like a general framework that that I often use when thinking about how to help people aren't their mind is less work with the machine not again you know the mind was set up to travel in time. Re served as well figure out how to make us better at doing that rather than work entirely against, which I do think. If you told someone to always be in the moment. First of all is impossible. Maybe if you ve got into. I forget that firms cosmic consciousness or you now totally Buddha level, my made its possible I've met. Anyone is always in the moment, although I do know some shit
Dron, who are always in the moment, doesn't do much for them or their here. I've got some cats who are always in the momentary, yes, but he usually involve scooting across the carpet, but you just said it: you ve got a cat, that's always in a moment right we're cats, even though I might get more love if I Is it catches people, and I fell in love, tat, sometimes seemingly more than me, but we're not we're not to be in a moment and that's what allows us to build spaceships rate. and rovers on Mars strike forward. Thinking much more of a conversation with even cross right after this, the hot summer months are here and we need to be proactive to keep our body, fuelled up in hydrated. Making hydrogen a priority helps us feel healthier on a day to day basis and feels ass to be our highest potential. That's where liquid ivy comes in one stick of liquid ivy and sixteen ounces of water hydrates faster,
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So we're sloshing around still in bucket number one of techniques it and individual could use to nudge oneself out of chatter, and so so, let's stay here for a second, there are a few others under list. Another is to refrain your experience as a challenge. What's what's what does that look like? So typically, when you put a person the situation involving near the potential for Social Strasse right anxiety, we ask ourselves two kinds of questions, what's required of me, and can I do it? If you ask yourself those questions, we do it automatically and say no, not possible that illicit, what we call a threat response that has a biological manifestation. Your heart starts beating blot out
it really fast and your vascular cheerier arteries and means they start constricting so more blood going into a smaller space, not good for the operation of your body and elicits all sorts of ways of thinking about your circumstance, says that are counterproductive and and destructive, like? Oh, my god, I'm never going to be able to do this. You saw in her critic mode and so forth. You can take the same person the same situation now and you can of them answer those questions differently. Right, what's required of me, can I do it now? I can do this people who, who generate those kinds of we call those appraisal most of the situations therein. We called out a challenge response What happens when you're in a challenge mode. Your heart starts. Beating blood just as fast, but your arteries relaxing so there's more room for the blood to flop you perform. better under stress and you feel better, and so the slight switch
how you're framing the situation that can make a huge difference, and it's not totally unrelated to what we talk about before the coaching yourself like your friend, I ll give you an example. A couple of weeks ago, I headed you reasonably high stakes presentation for me and the organised there's a like. I was a subject in my own experiment. They kept on changing the rules on me, one minute, one minute. It was required this in advance the next may is, do it live? No. We want you to do it in advance and that you know they kept on switching it like four times, sing. I know it's like t. Minus thirty minutes I'm so much of what I ve got to do and in ice started going a little bit into chatter mode. Oh my god. This is crazy. It's not even saddened bubble, and then I stepped back Ethan. You Eve literally given probably one thousand presentations you ve. Never
What are you gonna do it? It basically put me in that challenge mode and the press, nation, as far as I am, one pretty well, so we often help other people right. We act as an agent that helps other people frame their circumstances. They come to us in threat mode, and we Give them advice to flip the switch and put them into challenge mode, but we can do that for ourselves as well. It's almost likes the the practice of psychological jiu Jitsu, like very, very subtle shifts, and how we're thinking about That do change our perspective in ways that can really be quite constructive and so sometimes and for a moment that I make the conscious effort to switch Inter challenge road. So do it for myself and because sometimes I wanna, like double dosage of challenge mode, I'll call about and who I know, will also help me put me into chancellor, and then there
these compounding effects that we see happen when you start activating multiple tools from your toolbox. Let me just keep going in your toolbox here and the first bucket of individual practices a list three in a row in and you can pick all them or pick one of them, but these I found these just a little bit surprising one is to write expressively at the other is to clutch, a lucky charm or engage in a superstition and in the final one, is to perform a ritual yeah so but hold forth. Please yes, rituals are fascinating, are cold, we have been giving us rituals likely, since we ve been a part of a culture to deal with adverse say he think about when people die, our institutions are cultural institutions. They give us rituals to manage that adversity right, so different kinds of mourning periods and practices that often differ quite a bit, but nonetheless help people feel good. Many people refer
simply turn to engaging in their own idiosyncratic rituals when their under stress their these studies of looking at people who are in war conditions, and you see elevations of engagement. Rituals, when you're under threat of attack. So what's going on what is a science had to say the things we know about. Chatter is that when you are experiencing, it often feels like you: don't have control over your circle, that is, like our mind, is controlling ass, its control, thus in ways that we don't like we're bad. We can't stop thinking in this way and it's really disoriented. What we ve learned is you can compensate for that experience of a lack of
troll by exerting control on your surroundings, as it is to some extent bleeds into our third bucket two of our environment. But what a ritual is a ritual is a rigid sequence of behaviors. You do at the exact same way, every single time, it's a very structured control, progression, Raphia on a doll he's been? to engage in these rituals on the tennis court before every serve and it s some really wacky elaborate ones like he'll like in a before serve he'll, take his hair and might put it behind his ear, and then pick his reggie out of his back a few times and then about civil, always exactly the same way. and when asked why he does it. He says engage in these kinds of rituals to provide me with the order in my head that I'm missing and so sore ritual can be quite effective for helping people a chat or now there is
course a coffee at here you don't wanna, take it to an extreme as sometimes done with certain forms of anxiety like obsessive compulsive disorder, but, rituals in and the appropriate dosage could be quite helpful. Yeah DR, a little ritual that I do this all check list. In my mind, every time I in the thirty seconds before I anchor good morning America as little cheesy, but did these kind of three peas, preparation and others have done my research or via route? Have I checked all the script, so I know what I am about to say: presentation is my tie straight and presence. Meaning can I drop of those concerns and just react to what is happening now. So I can be spontaneous with my co host software I'm interviewing, and I found that just running through that very quickly. Right before I go on the heirs really really awful I have my own little personal ritual than I do. You now ripe
or I give a presentation as well. I could say the same thing to myself every time and it really. It really helps me it's a way. essentially regulating what's happening inside your head by by doing something typically on the outside, by something very rigid instructed the same way each time that gives us a sense of control and and human beings are just we're thirsty for control. We like things to be ordered and untidy unpredictable and rituals give us that to that's one way that a ritual can help us dna. asked about lucky charms. Also, so, what's going on over there lucky charms? What we're dealing with their from science point of view is, is the placebo effect, the power of expectation Essentially, what we ve learned is that if you believe so thing is going to make. You feel better that activate a set of
psychological and neural processes that often bring that outcome to fruition. There's a of data on the benefits of placebo, so people are suffering from mile to moderate forms of depression. If you can a sugar pill and tell them hate trust me have been seen patients for a really long time. You take this pill. It's gonna make you feel better, just make sure you take it twice a day every day, people who believe that message end up feeling better overtime, and when you then go to lucky charms of things like crystals, where I think those objects are doing is their capitalizing. on on the power of the placebo to effect change in people's lives. There is one thing to keep in mind when it comes to placebos. On the one hand, I think it's a remarkable testament to the power of the mind to control ourselves. But we can also do better than policy
because there are a lot of practices out there that don't really have any active ingredients right. There's no, scientific explanation for why they work, but they are promoted as being able to help people in a lot people who engage in those practices often report feeling better, and that I think, is an example of a giant proceed right here, engaging with a person or institution? Will you really trust and believe and become? you're buying into the message whatever it is, your taking or doing you think that that's making you feel better. So Maybe, but not for the reasons you think it is. What about writing? Expressively writing expressively can be can be, the great. I think that is another kind of distancing tool when you about your deepest thoughts and feelings, your essentially becoming a character in a story. You're thinking get yourself a someone else and that a lot easier for us to create the story that
You know usually has a beginning middle and at an end, and the end is really critical right, because what shattered often defined, as is a lack of an end just getting stuck in this local nature of thinking where you just bowling around negativity. But when you write about something negative, that's happened to you and create that story. Tat and gives us closure, which allows us to move on that. writing of memoirs has been really helpful to me. It helped me Stan things I didn't understand about my own life about concepts are intriguing to me. It puts a lot order on what's can seem like just a morass of events over the course of years, and I know that journaling is helpful for a lot of you. There's one interesting little timid all through in there takes us back to language and its relevance to writing in and making meaning there's a way that you can use the word you to refer to people in general,
that we find is really useful for helping people make meaning in their lives in ways that help with chatter? And once I point this out, I suspect- see it all over the place, because I do once we started studying a so when you get a person in our politicians. He's done something. Bad is doing an interview about reflecting on it and or an athlete you screwed up in his dear post game in the law, I'm doing air of you. You often hear them say things like when you MRS shot, you dont know what to do. You just gotta go on. If you stop and think about what they just says, little puzzling, they're using the word you a word, we typically used refer to other people rising firmly pointing the easy to refer their own flop right when you screw up. What are you gonna do call this the universal you and it's another way that we use language to make, meaning it gives us some space. Right it s not about me. This is about the world Fact, ITALY, when you use that word you in that way, using
when any one MRS a shot, anyone would feel this way at and there's a real for that comes from normalizing. Your experience in that way- and you often see this happening over the course of express a writing. So people start off in I'm out and then, as they build their stories they shift into referring to their experiences those universal terms, and so another little sidebar, geeky sidebar, but there's a tool there that people can nonetheless use yet to normalize. So, let's, let's go into the second bucket now there are few other tools here that are more. collective and individual. We talked about rituals, but you say that we can perform rituals with other people. Does that kind of supercharged the whole thing yeah, there's a meal, that's the thought and we're still doing research on this, but the thought is that
communal element of doing a ritual with someone else can in part supercharged that process by eliciting a sense of of OZ? the feeling of all this is an emotion we experience when we're in the presence of something vast, though we have trouble explaining For me, my last experience was watching the Mars Rover land on Mars it blows my mind. I do not understand how we figured out how to build this suv embedded in a spaceship blasted across space like we're talking, interplanetary travel This is my to me within landed with a helicopter and project images back. My simple mine can contemplate how we figured out how to do that and what we know happens when people experience, or at least what we call a shrinking of the south when you're contemplating something vast and indescribable like interplanetary trout
Oh, that makes you in your own concerns, feel a little bit smaller and it reduces how immersed we are in our own chat. In ways that can be really helpful, and so you often get these experiences of all when people are in communal setting so doing a ritual lots of other people activate those feelings in ways that are helpful rituals there, a type of tell there are multiple ways that they can benefit arson, giving us a sense of there is one another. The fact that there also, Often attention we demanding is a third way they work, so rituals are often complicated and to execute them. You ve got a diver your attention away from the chatter and onto the actual ritual, and that can be helpful to you. Talkin about about social media minors, you can't talk about it as a double edged sword or at most of us alone, the show we talk about the unpleasant edge of these social media sword, but you also say there:
ways to use social media that can help with your chatter. That's right, I started doing research on social media in our lab about almost fifteen years ago and since early work just pointed out the negative consequences of doing so. For our chatter, you log into Instagram or or Facebook, You see these wonderful experiences of your peers and friends, and you feel awful, that your own life, and then you continue to think about how much better Eliza than our own not good, bubble, where it is that social media It's a new environment and environments aren't good or bad Perceval views like the physical world, counterpoint,. There are ways of navigating the physical world that could be very harmful for us right. You go there on wrong neighborhoods and say the things too, on people big big trouble,
If you go to other places and then talk to other people in different ways, you can really benefit right, so it really depends on how you navigate the space, and I think the same is true for social media. When it comes to chatter studies, which show that social media provides us with opportunities to get support. Far chatter, to get the kind of chatter advice that we simply cannot get in offline world right by putting out a request for help, you can have thousands of people to you, for assistance are hundreds or even tens, like that's often more than we can get in the physical world. If we ve gotta, wait to find someone to talk to so the opportunities to get. support view, social media are really quite remarkable in the book. I tell the story of Dan Savage in that it gets better movement. This work, a movement several years ago were
you hadn't many many young teens who were struggling with their energy, be you identity, right They went on to social media and there were message is being promoted by lots of people like it gets better, people will tell their stores and other people would try my stick it out. It gets better, it will get better. that seem to help lots and lots of people, and so I think there is enormous value that social media can have. The big problem is that, up until now Recently, we haven't really had a playbook for how to navigate social media. We get a player for how to navigate or physical world very early on in our lives, it's called socialization right. Our parents teach us how to navigate the world. Here's how you talk to someone you say please and thank you you don't say this to other people and those We messages are then reinforced by the schools. We go to
the organisations we blocked, rights were constantly going information from a young age about how to navigate the world successfully. Social media so new and costs The changing that we have we really have the time to develop, that playbook How do you socialize your kids into using Facebook and install and twitter affected? the message that I often hear as I tell them, I can't use it right. That's a pretty blunt intervention tool, so the hope is that, as we learn more about what the healthy versus harmful ways of using these technologies are we and then use that information to be much more strictly think about how we navigate social media
go away. So it sounds like the headline thumbnail version of what you're describing for healthy social media usage as it pretends to chatter would be unhealthy, is passive. Formal inducing instagram, scrolling or passive dooms growing on Twitter healthy, would be intentionally seeking out support or intentionally providing support to the who are seeking support. Yeah you pretty much now that I might through in cyber bowling and trolling into the negative bucket to, but were quibbling there. Now I profoundly worthy additions to the negative, Buckingham Beacon of buckets. Let let's talk more about the third bucket of the eggs for managing our own chatter. We ve gotta dipped, ended bug it a little bit, but can you just describe what what you're talking about in this bucket generally then we'll get a little more the from their yeah, we're talking about ways of regulating the conversations that we have on the inside by doing things in.
External world, the world around so engaging with our physical spaces in and specific ways that have implications for our experience of chatter, and there are a couple of things that people can do and we have touched on them already. One is organizing and tidying up, but when I found myself experiencing blips chatter, when we're and the book I was putting everything way clear to my office and I go into the kitchen and I washed the dishes and scrubbed down the island and put everything very nice neatly away, and I like to joke that at one point I used to think that my wife was hoping that I would express will but of Chad when it was going pretty well because she was so happy with without good. look so many people do this when their stressed out when their expense in China, the organised, and what the research shows is that this actually serves of regulatory function, and it does so through that same half way that rituals do
right, you're ordering your surroundings, and that gives you a sense of control like I have control of what is going on in my physical world that enhances this. This sense control that we know is often lacking when were experiencing chatter. So again, that's one very simple, easy thing you can do another tool that involves environment involves increasing our exposure to green spaces, theirs talk of work on this and, as anyone who is experienced, chatter knows it can be all consuming right. All of your attention is focused on the thing you ruminating a worrying about and that really problematic when it comes to our lives, because we need our attention to do things like our jobs or be good listeners to our partners and in kids. It's of all tension is on your chatter and not on those things. Big problems ensue
the way nature exposure, green space exposure factors into all this is We ve learned that when you go for a walk in a safe green space, I always feel the need to say safe, because where I grew up in Brooklyn parks were not safe, so Zulus actually have any opposite association to be vigilant, forgetting mud, but if you find a park nearby or a tree line Sri that is safe and you can let your guard down what happens? Is our attention gently drifts onto them very interesting natural surroundings, the leaves the flowers, the hedges and those interesting so around exceeded the noises of nature, the crickets chirping at night. Our attention is grasped by those objects but in a very gentle way, right with interesting that, allows us to essentially recharge our attention.
That was previously depleted from all the chatter and interest me their research, which shows that, even if you can't get out in nature like watching a movie of a natural, like you know, one of these natural movies that are immersive can be really useful to so so that's one way that nature can help. The other way that nature helps is by providing an opportunity to experience ah and a lot of the triggers that we have for experiencing are are found in nature. So I amazing sons, at her look here, you're a tree that spinning hundreds of years and whether all these storm for the beauty of these flowers, and so a lot of their lot of art triggers waiting to be activated. There's been a great conversation. I've learned a lot and rarely been helpful. Did I miss anything that I fail to take us
somewhere. I should have there's only one other tidbits that we might want to take a hundred and twenty second detour to hit what we talked about earlier, involving the two steps of getting help when we're done. With chatter, finding some new can validate men brought new perspective that pertains to situations in which a person is explicitly coming to you for support. They want help with their chatter they're alive instances in which we see people, we know and love who are struggling with chatter but they haven't necessarily asked us for help and the question is: do volunteer it or do not research shows that if you volunteer support in those circumstances, just get ready for what might happen after you do, because that can often illicit.
a defensive reaction from other people- and this is something is very familiar to parents. I got two young kids, and sometimes I don't follow the science tonight, I'm a human for me. Am I see my daughter like struggling with her homework knock over here? Let me, let me show you: how do you, like my teacher, I teach nor do the stuff and like instantly, is diaspora Do you not think I know how to do this, essentially what happens there and you see this happening in lots of different situation between partners in older parents and kids. when advice is volunteered without being asked for it can threaten the person sense of self ethics, the idea that we are capable of doing things on our own and that can create tension and social relationships. So the answer is not to just don't help at all. Instead, the answer is to find ways.
helping in what I call invisibly or in a kind of outside of awareness way? There are lots of ways we could do that when people are experiencing chatter. If my wife's particularly stressed about workin and other things doing, things is simple: as alleviating the burden on her plate? Taking care of dinner, picking up the dry cleaning, doing things to just make her life a little bit easier, that's a wet without being asked. That's a way of helping her invisibly there's someone struggling in on my team with their presentation skills. Rather than Check, and will you really need to up your game here? Here's a couple of books that that can help, I might say a note to the entire group: hey here's a couple bucks I just came cross really helpful. baby. Let's have a lobbying to discuss them, I'm getting them. Information, but without shining a spotlight,
one person's vulnerability. The final thing you can do is spring it full circle. You could touch right if it's, the right individual on is appropriate in the context of its a partner. Or a child. Another way of helping invisibly is to put that arm on their shoulder, give them a hard give them a kiss, Cheesy is that sounds. There is hard core science behind the value of affection attach as a tool to help you Will chatter and that's another way of doing it, invisibly? Listening to that. Conversation with your daughter. I was reminded of so I've a six year old son and he was out, did playing with his mother. The other and I guess you're being irritating to him and he said the mommy so annoying. I almost feel like I'm talking to Daddy We should have a chat or support for just unity in our key example gowns just about right before we go, can
remind everybody, the name of the book and any other sources of. information or all things even cross sure the book is called, shatter the voice in our head, why it matters and how to harness it, and you can find tons of information about the book plowed the ideas we talked about about me on my website, W W W dot Ethan Cross with a k, dot com Thank you very much. Madam great job. There are was superfine and really really great conversation. So, thanks for having me pleasure, big thanks. Ethan really enjoyed meeting him The show is made by Samuel Johns Dj Cashmere Kim Bike, Maria, were tell Jen plant audio engineering from ultraviolet audio, as always a hearty salute to my seen his comrade rank ass are unjust, co hand will see on Wednesday we will come back with another episode,
they were separated body. This is Elsie Grandison here to tell you about my new podcast made easy audio called life out loud. This show is all about preserving the history and honouring the contributions of the odes beating you community each week, I'll talk to some of the most fascinating people, paving the way for a more inclusive world. These conversations can get heavy, but this shows also gummy. Bill was so much joy and I mean after we are car gay people, rights of gaddi some happiness in there somewhere check out life out loud with me, Elsie Grandison, wherever you get your pockets.
Transcript generated on 2021-07-20.