Master Your Inner Voice with Dr. Ethan Kross

We spend over a third of our lives speaking to ourselves internally. And unsurprisingly, that internal voice isn’t always nice.

Self-talk can take a positive or negative spiral depending on your control of the brain. Negative self-talk gets you spinning around your worry, hindering productive energy. Positive self-talk creates confidence and motivation, especially during a challenge.

Dr. Ethan Kross has been researching how to manage emotions for more than two decades. As one of the world's leading experts on conscious mind control and an award-winning professor at the University of Michigan, is on the show to talk about what he’s learned and compiled for the book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It. His pioneering research has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New England Journal of Medicine, and Science. Ethan is not interest in how to “quiet the chatter,” but rather, how we can use it to our advantage.

Ethan explains that chatter isn't inherently debilitating and that you can turn it into empowering thoughts – by making a conscious effort. In his words, "retelling your story is definitely one way of harnessing the chatter."

This episode is full of tactics, tools and resources, including:

  • Distanced self-talk: Ethan talks about being the friend you want to receive advice from. Use your name when talking to yourself, and coach yourself through the situation.
  • Mental time travel: Jump to the future and assess how your problem would look like at that particular point in time. How are you going to feel about this a week from now? A month from now? a year from now?
  • Compensatory control: Organize your spaces. While chatter feels like losing control of your mind, organizing your external environment could feel like exercising control of your life, thus helping you fade away chatter.
  • Seek a sense of awe: Sometimes, experiencing a sense of vastness, wonder, or admiration helps you shut down narrow, negative thoughts and give you a broader perspective to events.
  • Zooming out of the frame: Expand your view beyond the narrow edge, think broader to understand your problems or situations from a larger perspective. That will help you see beyond the chatter.
  • One of my favorite aspects of this show is learning about cutting-edge science and testing it out for myself. We now have specific, evidence-based tools that can boost mental fitness and ability to manage emotions.


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