1-Sentence-Summary: Chatter will help you make sense of the inner mind chatter that frequently takes over your mind, showing you how to quiet negative thoughts, stop overthinking, feel less anxious, and develop useful practices to consistently alleviate negative emotions.
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The human brain allows us to do remarkable things. In fact, we are the only species with the ability to carry out introspections. These help us improve our perception of life and ultimately evolve. However, too much introspection might turn into an unstoppable mind chatter. The mind also tends to dive deep into negative self-talk and overthinking scenarios, which in turn drag us down.
Chatter by Ethan Kross is the antidote to the latter, helping us quiet down our inner monologue — at least the bad parts of it. To learn how to stop your inner chatter from taking over and make your mind work for you instead, we’ll explore three of the most useful lessons from this much celebrated book:
- Our mind can only process so much information at a time, so make sure you feed it the right amount.
- Challenging times blur our thinking, so the solution is to zoom out and get a fresh perspective.
- Talking about what hurts us isn’t enough to move past trauma, as we need to meet our cognitive needs too.
To fully understand these lessons, we must take each and every one aside and analyze it in detail, so here we go!
Lesson 1: To speed up your cognitive functions, you’ll have to filter the information that you allow in your mind.
According to the book, the human brain can only keep up with three to five pieces of information at once. And this is when the person has all cognitive functions in optimal parameters. To better understand this concept, just think about this: between 12569045 and 125-690-45, which is easier to remember? Naturally, the latter will be easier to memorize. That’s because it’s structured in three tiny bits of information, instead of an unbroken string.
Therefore, to keep up with certain functions we’re performing at a given time, our brain must be in optimal condition, meaning having enough space to receive and process information. Much like a computer, our brain functions by handling a limited amount of data at once, and if you feed it more than it can process, chances are it’ll crash. As such, overthinking, rumination, and inner chatter can quickly fill up our brains with unnecessary data. These keep our neurons busy processing instead of performing productive functions.
They also affect our physical health and our relationships. Studies suggest that people who deal with excessive inner chatter are poor listeners. They also don’t know when to stop oversharing with their friends and relatives. This, in turn, pushes them away when they start feeling uncomfortable. In terms of health, mind chatter causes stress, which in turn causes cortisol levels to rise. Unfortunately, this hormone can have disastrous effects on our health and cause dangerous illnesses.
Lesson 2: When in doubt, try to zoom out and change your perspective on the problem.
Hardships toll on us is usually bigger than it needs to be. We feel like the problems we’re facing are much bigger than they actually are. Take any intense challenge you’ve encountered in the past and remember how it made you feel. Did you think you’ll overcome it so successfully, that you won’t think about it again and life will go back to normal? Probably not! However, you can use past experiences to help yourself when mind chatter takes over again.
When you find yourself facing tough life situations, and catch your mind trying to take control over you, simply zoom out. Look at the problem from a different perspective, such as if it was happening to a friend, or how you’d deal with it if you were someone else. You can also try temporal distancing, the author suggests. Think about how much your problem will matter in ten years, or any prolonged time frame.
Take COVID-19 for example. The world has seen multiple pandemics. So using this technique in the middle of chaos could help you realize that eventually, things will go back to normal. Anything but ruminating on the problem and letting your thoughts take over is a healthier choice. If you spend time overthinking your situation, your stress response will activate. And we’ll eventually zoom in until we lose all perspective.
Lesson 3: To let go of negative emotions, we need to fulfill our emotional needs, while also working on our cognitive ones
Growing up, we were taught that sharing our emotions and talking about what makes us feel certain ways is the healthy thing to do. Even the ancient philosopher Aristotle stated that one must get rid of their pain by letting it all out. In fact, we even have a natural inclination to do so. We reach out to our parents as babies whenever we feel a slight discomfort. And then later in life, to our friends and closest ones.
So how come that people still suffer after expressing their hurt? Isn’t that enough? As a matter of fact, it isn’t. Of course, communicating about what causes us pain will eventually help us meet our emotional needs. However, people pay too little attention to our need for perspective, and not just empathy. Our brain needs to heal too, just as much as our heart does. The solution? Find people that can come up with solutions and offer you fresh perspectives. Oftentimes, we get so caught up in our problems, that we fail to see the way out.
That is where our friends, family, or professionals can step in and help us solve the maze. While we need to feel heard, we also need to find a rational way out, so we don’t keep on living in pain. What’s also worth considering is the idea of a “board of advisors.” Usually, the opinions of more people can help us more than just the ideas of one individual, simply because more perspectives lead to more ideas out of the situation. Try seeking help in more than one place, and take what’s useful for you out of each point of view.
Chatter addresses a controversial topic in a professional and practical way, therefore helping its readers deal better with their inner chatter and overwhelming thoughts. All of us spend most of our time in our heads, yet too few of us have mastered controlling our mind and making it work in our favor. This book is a must-read for almost anyone!
Who would I recommend our Chatter summary to?
The 37-year-old concerned parent dealing with an anxious child, the 57-year-old manager who can’t “shut off” after coming home from work, and anyone who has a passion for science, psychology, and how the human brain works.
Last Updated on February 20, 2023