Ethan Kross: Harness Your Internal Chatter | E122
Ethan Kross: Harness Your Internal Chatter | E122
Calm that internal chatter!
In this episode, we are talking with Ethan Kross, one of the world’s leading experts on controlling the conscious mind, best-selling author, and an award-winning professor at the University of Michigan. Ethan studies how the conversations people have with themselves impact their health, performance, decisions and relationships. His book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters and How to Harness It, is a national bestseller and was chosen as one of the best new books of the year by the Washington Post, CNN and USA Today.
Ethan’s research has been published in Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among other peer-reviewed journals. He has participated in policy discussion at the White House and has been interviewed on CBS Evening News, Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper Full Circle, and NPR’s Morning Edition. His pioneering research has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, USA Today, The Economist, The Atlantic, Forbes, and Time.
In today’s episode, we talk about how Ethan first got interested in introspection, the power of internal dialogue, and the wide spectrum of chatter. We’ll also dive deeper into the connection between emotion and pain, actionable tools you can use when you experience chatter, and the best ways to get in ‘the zone’ in a short amount of time!
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00:35 – What Sparked Ethan’s Interest in Introspection
04:38 – How Internal Dialogue is The Brain’s Swiss Army Knife
09:43 – The Spectrum of Chatter
13:30 – The Connection Between Emotions and Pain
16:08 – How Ethan Got Out of His Negative Thought Loop
25:52 – What Not To Do When Experiencing Chatter
29:57 – Strategies To Be a Good Advisor to Problems
38:20 – Tools in The Chatter Toolbox
44:01 – Ways To Refocus in a Short Amount of Time
52:55 – Perspective on Focusing on The Present Versus The Future
56:47 – How to Deal With The Ever-Digital World
1:05:31 – Ethan’s Secret to Profiting in Life
Mentioned in the Episode:
Ethan’s Website: https://www.ethankross.com/
Ethan’s Book, Chatter: https://www.ethankross.com/chatter/
Ethan’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ethan_kross
Follow YAP on IG: www.instagram.com/youngandprofiting
Reach out to Hala directly at [email protected]
Follow Hala on Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/htaha/
Follow Hala on Instagram: www.instagram.com/yapwithhala
Follow Hala on ClubHouse: @halataha
Check out our website to meet the team, view show notes and transcripts: www.youngandprofiting.com
#122: Harness Your Internal Chatter with Ethan Kross
[00:00:00] Hala Taha: [00:00:00] You're listening to YAP, Young And Profiting Podcast. A place where you can listen, learn, and profit. Welcome to the show. I'm your host, Hala Taha. And on Young And Profiting Podcast, we investigate a new topic each week and interview some of the brightest minds in the world. My goal is to turn their wisdom into actionable advice that you can use in your everyday life.
No matter your age, profession, or industry. There's no fluff on this podcast and that's on purpose. I'm here to uncover value from my guests by doing the proper research and asking the right questions. If you're new to the show, we've chatted with the likes of ex FBI agents, real estate moguls, self-made billionaires, CEOs, and best-selling authors. Our subject matter ranges from enhancing productivity, how to gain influence, the art of entrepreneurship, and more. If you're smart and like to continually improve yourself, hit the subscribe [00:01:00] button because you'll love it here at Young And Profiting Podcast.
This week on YAP, we're chatting with Ethan Kross. One of the world's leading experts on controlling the conscious mind. He's a bestselling author and an award-winning professor at the University of Michigan. Ethan studies how the conversations people have with themselves impact their health, performance, decisions, and relationships. His book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It is a national bestseller.
Ethan has participated in policy discussion at the white house and has been interviewed on CBS Evening News, Good Morning America Anderson Cooper and other media outlets. His pioneering research has been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, and so many more.
And today's episode, we talk about how Ethan first got interested in introspection, the power of internal dialogue and the wide spectrum of chatter. We'll also [00:02:00] dive deeper into the connection between emotion and pain, actionable tools you can use when you're experiencing chatter, and the best ways to get in the zone in a short amount of time.
Hey, Ethan welcome to Young And Profiting Podcast.
Ethan Kross: [00:02:15] Hey, thanks for having me been looking forward to this conversation for awhile.
Hala Taha: [00:02:18] Yeah, same here. So we love to start with background stories, childhood journeys, how you ended up fulfilling your purpose in life. And so let's start there. I know right now you are a bestselling author.
You came up with a book called Chatter, which is a smash hit. You've been on so many huge podcasts. Definitely want to dig into that. But first I want to understand how did you get into the topic of introspection, like what first sparked that interest in you? I'd love to hear about that.
Ethan Kross: [00:02:47] The interest goes way back actually to about 38, 37 years when I was a little kid and, I had a very unconventional dad.
And what I mean by that is, [00:03:00] my dad was not a college grad. He never helped me held down a series of sales jobs over the course of his life. Nothing ever too permanent, but he loved two things. He loved the New York Yankees and he loved Eastern philosophy meditation. And he'd spent a lot of time talking to me about both of those things.
And so from the time I was three years old, He would tell me whenever I experienced a curve ball in life experience, some adversity, the direction was focus your attention inward, try to tap into that inner voice that you have and come up with a solution for how to navigate that adversity. And that was a piece of advice that, although I didn't know it at the time when he was first telling me about this, it was a piece of advice that would go on to serve me really well throughout my childhood and adolescence.
Like most of us, I would experience different kinds of adversity, something didn't work out at school, a person I asked out, didn't say, yes, I had an argument with my mom or dad, whenever that happened. I turned my attention inward. I [00:04:00] try to figure out what's the problem I'm dealing with. I come up with a solution and I'd move on.
I never really got stuck. So introspection served me really well, growing up. Then I got to college and in the second semester of my freshman year, I took my first psychology class. And about halfway through the semester, we came on the topic of interest. We came up to the topic of introspection and, I thought to myself in my head, I was effectively like rolling up my sleeves, cracking my knuckles.
I'm thinking I've been doing this for, for ages. So I, what do I need to learn? It turns out I needed to learn a lot because what I encountered when I started reading about introspection at that point in the class was for a lot of people. A lot of the time introspection serve them really well just as it had served me well, but for those same people in other situations, introspection could end up being curse.
So people would experience problems, turn their attention inward rather than come up with solutions. They get stuck. They'd worry. They'd [00:05:00] ruminate. They'd catastrophize. Think about the worst case scenarios. And so this struck me as a ginormous puzzle. That was really important to understand why is it that we possess this remarkable ability, this ability to turn our attention inward, to use our mind, to make sense of our problems.
This capacity makes us unique as a species. It's what allows us to do things like develop vaccines and record amounts of time. Build spaceships up, blast us off into outer space. And yet when we experience strong negative emotions, feelings like anxiety or sadness, We often can't tent use this tool that we possess to get out of that problem.
And so I ended up going to graduate school to figure out how do you science to weigh in on this puzzle. And that's what I've been doing ever since. And that's what I talk about in my book Chatter.
Hala Taha: [00:05:52] So cool. And I love that your father, like from such a young age, really instilled the importance of mental health because it's [00:06:00] not something they teach in school.
It's not something you learn about. You don't learn about how to navigate your emotions. So I think the work that you do is super important. I'm so glad that you're doing it. So you touched on a topic just now saying that this internal dialogue makes humans unique. And I've heard you talk about how that's actually one of the reasons why we're different from other animals.
And we've advanced as a human species over time. So talk to us about that. How does this internal dialogue actually help us as humans and how has it helped us become more civilized than other animals?
Ethan Kross: [00:06:34] Sure. So I like to think about this internal dialogue or our inner voice, if you will, as it's a kind of Swiss army knife of the human mind, and it lets us do a number of remarkable things.
And so let me, I'll just rattle off some of the key functions it serves at the most basic end of the spectrum, our inner voice allows us to keep verbal information active in our heads. And so concrete example that you go to the grocery store. [00:07:00] You don't have your iPhone. You need to remind yourself, what do I need to buy when people need to remind themselves of that?
They'll repeat those things in their head. All right. Eggs, cheese sticks, bread, paper towels. I don't do paper towels on my grocery rides. It's all about, it's all about the breakfast items, but yeah, you repeat those things silently in your head. That's your inner voice. Your inner voice is part of what we call our verbal working memory system.
It's a basic system of the human mind that is vital to our ability to navigate the world, keep information active. So our inner voice lets us do that, but then it lets us do other things like simulate and plan for the future. So before I have to give a presentation, I will repeat what I'm going to say in my head.
I'll take a walk around my neighborhood if the weather cooperates and I'll go through the presentation in my mind, I'll from the start to finish. And when I get to the end, I'll even, I'll anticipate what questions someone in the audience is going to ask me, I'll hear the questions. And then I'll [00:08:00] response.
I'm engaging in this dialogue, in my head, this mental simulation, this is vital to my ability to perform well under the spotlight. This is another service that our inner voice provides us with this ability to simulate and plan. Our inner voice that's us coach us through our problems, right? I go downstairs.
I subscribed to no eating after 8:00 PM. I go downstairs at 9:00 PM. I opened the fridge. My daughter is constantly conspiring against my fitness goals because she's making delicious things and putting them right where I could see them. And I see the chocolate cake or last night it was rhubarb pie.
And I don't eat it Ethan, don't do it. So we often use our inner voice to coach us along to coach us through our problems. And then finally, in a certain sense, most, most magically in some ways or romantically, our inner voice helps us understand who we are. It gives shape to our sense of [00:09:00] self and our identity.
So when we experience problems in life, we often pause and try to make sense of those experience. When we're rejected by someone, we thought why were we just rejected? Was it something about me? Was it something about them? Was it the wrong situation? And what we essentially do is we use our inner voice to create a story that explains our experiences, that story, that explains really who we are as individuals and our inner voice helps us do that.
So keeping information active in our heads, planning for the future, controlling ourselves, creating these stories, that shape our understanding of who we are. Our inner voice is really vital to our ability to thrive in this world. And that's why when I hear people say, people and they're like, oh, you just wrote a book about the inner voice and how to manage it please, Ethan, tell me, how can I silence this inner voice?
Just I want to get rid of it. And I said, that's not right, what we want to do. We want to figure out how to harness this tool because it is a tool we don't want to get [00:10:00] rid of it. I actually tell a story in the book about a woman who experienced a stroke. And the stroke wiped out temporarily her ability to use language, both to talk to other people, but also to talk to herself.
And her experience is really captivating because what she said at first was when she first lost her ability to talk to herself, to engage in this inner dialogue, she found it strangely liberating, gone were her worries and ruminations, but as she went on, as the days went on, she realized what also left her, was this ability to make sense of who she was.
And that was really destructive and disorienting. And so the challenge, isn't the silence that we want to figure out how to harness it. And that's what my research and the book Chatter's all about.
Hala Taha: [00:10:44] Yeah. I think that's a really great distinction because when we think about Chatter, we think it's always negative.
And to your point that, we hear about meditation, like silence, your voice, like just being peace, being the now be in the present when really it's okay. It's [00:11:00] healthy to have some of this negative self-talk. So let's talk about the spectrum of this internal chatter. Some people, for example, say that they never dream.
Is it a case where people say I don't have internal chatter and is there like a spectrum to this in terms of like good amounts of internal chatter versus bad amounts?
Ethan Kross: [00:11:22] That's a great question. So let me try to break it down a little bit further. So we've talked about the good side of the inner voice, and I actually want to come back to meditation and mindfulness and being in the moment, because I think there's an important point to mention around that, but we'll save that for later.
So you've talked about what the inner voice can do for us. Let's talk about the negatives. And when we talk about the negative side of the inner voice, I want to distinguish between experiencing a negative verbal thought, so temporarily experiencing a ping of anxiety versus chatter, because they're not the same thing.
When I use the term chatter, what I'm using that term to refer to is getting thought, not getting thought, [00:12:00] getting stuck in a negative thought loop. So you're experiencing a problem. You turn your attention and to make sense of it, but you don't make any progress towards making sense of it and said, you just keep on looping around focusing on the awfulness of the situation.
Instead, when we experienced chatter about the past, we call that rumination chatter about the future or present that's typically takes the form of worrying. There is a difference between experiencing chatter and experiencing an isolated momentary bleep of negative emotions and small doses are elegantly adaptive.
You wouldn't want to live your life without the capacity to experience a negative emotion. When I experienced a little bit of anxiety, what that does is that is motivating me to deal with the situation at hand it's telling me. Okay Ethan stop fussing around on ESPN or the New York Times or whatever, and work on your presentation, work on the article that is [00:13:00] arguably adaptive, what makes anxiety and all of its offshoots and the other negative emotions harmful is when we experience those emotions.
But then we get stuck in them and we keep experiencing them chronically. That's a difference between a healthy versus an unhealthy negative emotion, just to drive that point home. There are children who are born into the world every year and they are sadly incapable of experiencing physical pain due to a genetic anomaly.
They put their hand on a flight. And their pain receptors don't communicate a painful sensation. What happens to these children is they die young. They died because they don't experience that physical pain signal that tells them to pull their hand away from the fire or to stop scratching that mosquito bite after it's infected.
So that at an extreme really highlights, I think just how valuable experiencing negative emotions can be, but we don't want to get overwhelmed by them. And that's what chatter is all about. When we experience [00:14:00] chatter that becomes really destructive. It can make it hard for us to think and perform well at work can create problems in our relationships and often also our physical health.
So did that address the terrain well?
Hala Taha: [00:14:11] Oh, yeah,
100%. I think you totally cleared it up. And since you brought up the topic of pain and I love this example of you saying that some people are born with the disease where they can't feel pain and it actually is dangerous. It's like you said, it's part of our evolution to have this negative thoughts so that we can thrive whether it's at work or whether it just means surviving.
And so I totally agree there, but I would love to hear about the connection between emotions and pain. Like when we think negatively, it actually can impact our physical health. So can you talk to us about that?
Ethan Kross: [00:14:46] It's interesting because our emotions, we often think of them as these fuzzy subjective states.
But what we know is that our emotions are negative emotions when they take the form of chat or when they're experienced chronically over time. They can really get under the [00:15:00] skin. Most listeners have probably heard the phrase stress kills. That is not exactly accurate, a better way of saying it would be chronic stress kills.
A stress response is a really adaptive response to be capable of having. So what happens when we experience a stress response, there's some threat that we perceive in the environment and then when we experience stress, we that mobilizes us to respond quickly to that threat. We approach it, or we avoid it.
What makes stress chronic is when our stress response is activated and then remains chronically activated over time. That's exactly what chatter does to us, because we think about that stressor, that anger provoking event or anxiety provoking event, or screw up that we, when we think about those things over and over again, what happens is our stress response goes up and it remains chronically activated over time.
And that's how you get chatter, predicting things like [00:16:00] cardiovascular disease and various problems with inflammation and even certain forms of cancer. So the mind is grounded in the brain and the brain is the quarterback that controls the body. And if chatter is pulling the strings so to speak, you can get physical problems. occur.
Hala Taha: [00:16:20] I totally agree. For me, I actually am having this issue with my neck. And actually right before this interview, I like creaked my neck a little bit and it keeps happening and I'm like, oh, there's something negative that I keep thinking about that keeps screwing up my damn neck so I can completely relate and agree there.
So let's talk about why you wrote Chatter. And I want to start with a story that you, I think you opened up your book with about how you were Googling bodyguards for academics. And it was one of the reasons why you decided you just had to write this book. So tell us about this story and why you ended up doing that.
And how did you get out of this negative thought loop?
Ethan Kross: [00:16:58] There they're really two [00:17:00] precipitating factors. And the story I opened up the book with was, interestingly enough, it goes back to what we were just talking about physical pain and emotional pain. About 10 years ago, maybe we published a study where we showed that the links between emotional and physical pain were much deeper.
Science tests previously thought. And so this study was a really, it was a neat one. What we did is we recruited people who had just been dumped in a romantic, really a serious romantic relationship. And, people often use the language of physical pain to describe how they feel after they experience profound, social rejection.
Like my feelings hurt I'm in pain. My stomach doesn't feel good. And so what we wanted to do in this experiment was really push the envelope and ask the question. Does the experience of social pain being rejected? Does that in any way, approximate the experience of physical pain, experiencing a physically painful sensation on your body.
And so what we did [00:18:00] in the study is we recruited these people who had been dumped and we brought them into the FMI lab and we put them through us an experiment where during some of the time we were scanning their brain activity, while we had them look at a picture of a person who had just rejected them and right beneath the picture, there was little phrase that
captured the moment of rejection. So dumped at park. And the idea was just think about how you felt in that exact instance when you were dumped. It sounds really mean, but we were doing this in the service of ultimately learning about rejection to help people. I want to give that caveat. So we have that people relive this experience of social pain.
During half the study, the other half, we hook up a device called a Thermo, which is like a little metal plate to their forearm. And what this Thermo heats up to temperatures that are hot and physically painful now to give another disclaimer, just so listeners don't think I'm totally [00:19:00] maniacal and evil here.
The sensation that, that the participants felt, it was like holding like a cup of coffee from Starbucks without the protective sleeve. So it's, it does hurt, but in no way it leaves a lasting mark or bruise. What we did in the experiment is we wanted to compare the results. So do the patterns of brain activity that we see corresponding to what, when people were experiencing social rejection, does that overlap with the patterns of brain activity that underlie this experience of physical pain?
And we found that in fact, they did quite a bit. And so a couple of days after news of this study was released, I got a letter in the mail. Back when people used to send letters and essentially it was a really ugly, personally threatening message. The likes of which led me. I showed it to a couple people.
They said, go to the police. I had a file, not file. I spoke to a police officer wasn't particularly reassuring. They said, yeah, [00:20:00] these things happen from time to time. It's probably nothing, but just in case you might want to drive. A different route from work each day for the next couple of weeks, which was a little tricky holla because I, at the time I only lived about four blocks away from my office.
So there wasn't much flexibility I had anyway, this got my chatter brewing. I had just my wife and I had just had our first child. I'm thinking, what did I do? Why did I publish this paper? I've put everywhere.
Hala Taha: [00:20:28] It wasn't even that bad. What was the big deal with it? It was in the name of science.
I'm so surprised that this person was so offended.
Ethan Kross: [00:20:35] I'll leave it at that. They were drawings and slurs and all sorts of really ugly things. It was not pleasant. So I ended up like pacing my house for a couple of nights with a baseball bat. And at my lowest point, I sat down in front of my computer and I didn't actually hit enter, but I started typing
bodyguards for academics. And the moment I did that, I realized before I hit [00:21:00] enter, I thought to myself, this is absolute li crazy Ethan. What are you doing? You don't hit enter cause people will think you've lost your mind. Forget it, no more experiments. You're not doing, you're going to be out of a job.
And interestingly enough, what I did in that moment, we would end up doing research on and finding it was a tool I just stumbled on. That is quite useful. I basically use what we call distance self-talk, I use my own name to try to coach myself through the problem I was dealing with. We all know it's much easier to give advice to other people than it is to take our own advice.
When we're mired in chatter can be so challenging. To follow to objectively follow what we know to be the right path. But interestingly, when other people are experiencing problems, it's often really easy for us to give them advice. And what I did in that moment is I switched my perspective, Ethan, what are you doing?
Get your act together, go to bed. And essentially I use language to shift my perspective. And so that's a tool that I talk about in the book that, that is really [00:22:00] useful. And and so that's one, one experience that really has connected me with the subject matter that I study in a way that has given me new insight around it.
And so I wanted to share it with readers because, look, I'm an expert on this topic, but that doesn't mean I don't experience chatter at times. I think most of us do. And I think recognizing the commonality of that experience, that in and of itself can be really helpful for managing these kinds of things.
Hala Taha: [00:22:27] Yeah, I love that story. I thought it would help give everybody some context. And I love this tool that you're talking about distancing, essentially. Like you're becoming your own coach. We all want to hire a coach and it's easier to get advice from other people. And you listen to other people's advice more than you listen to your own advice, which is just so interesting.
And I think it's really natural. I find myself before I knew this was like an actual term or thing. I find myself always saying, Hala relax, or Hala whatever I'm telling myself, I do that all the time. So it's,
Ethan Kross: [00:22:59] I can jump [00:23:00] in. I find that fascinating Hala. That to me is remarkable. So in the book I talk to people who've been doing this throughout history.
There are records of Julius Caesar doing it. And in ancient times to Henry Adams, the former US statesman to, and more contemporary moments, Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel peace prize winner, youngest person ever win the prize. LeBron James, if anyone's heard of that person, Jennifer Lawrence, during moments of stress, they flexibly start
using their name to coach themselves through a problem. Now, some people have attributed this to narcissism, like who would have the audacity to talk about themselves in the third person. We've done studies on this, no link whatsoever between the tendency to coach yourself through a problem, using your name and narcissism.
What we do find is that people tend to do this when they're under stress, when they need that advice. And what as a scientist, what I find remarkable is [00:24:00] where did we learn to do this, right? It's not like I'm going to guess Hala the growing up, no one in elementary school told you to do this. Your parents probably didn't say Hala
when you get really worried about something, use your name to talk yourself through a problem. Did they ever tell you that?
Hala Taha: [00:24:16] No, I, nobody talks to me about mental health until I was in my twenties. Like literally I never even thought about it.
Ethan Kross: [00:24:21] That's a big problem. And it's something that I'm hoping chatter can help address.
And we'll come back to that maybe a little bit later, but in chatter I talk about 26 different tools. We have stumbled on some of these tools on our own, in our attempts to manage our own mental life. I think we've many people just discover things that work. And I think knowing about the science, that explains how those tools that we sometimes use work.
That can be really empowering because it allows us to do is we don't have to wait to haphazardly do this. We can be much more deliberate about doing it. So the moment I detect some chatter. I Ethan, what [00:25:00] are we going to do? I use that tool very deliberately. And so that's one value. I think that the science provides. The other value is sometimes we do things that we think are going to help us, but science tells us they actually don't help us and can make things worse.
And then of course there are tools out there that we just don't even know about, that science has revealed. So there are lots of different kinds of tools that I think that I hope readers will encounter when they read the book.
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We are like, so in sync right now, because you always finish off and I'm like, that's [00:29:00] literally what I'm about to ask you what I thought about.
So let's talk about when we do things like venting, for example, we think it's going to help, but actually it has the reverse effect on us. So let's talk about when we are experiencing chatter, what are the things we should not do that most people do because it's just routine. They're not trained. They don't know how to help themselves.
Ethan Kross: [00:29:22] You hit the nail on the head with venting. When we experience chatter. The first thing to recognize is that most of us are intensely motivated to share or chat or with other people to find someone to talk to. This is true, not only of women, it is equally true of men. The stereotype that men don't talk about, their problems that has been studied, and it is not true.
So when the chatter bruise, we want to find someone to help us with it. And our culture often tells us that the way to get help is to express our emotions. Just let it out. There's been a lot of research on venting and its consequences. And what we've learned is that venting to [00:30:00] someone else that can be really good for strengthening the friendship bonds that two people share.
So you and I are now are now buddies. It's great to know that in a moment of weakness or turmoil, I could call you up Hala and share with you what I'm feeling and you're there to listen. Like it feels good to know that there's someone else out there that cares enough about me, that they're willing to take the time to listen, empathize and validate what I'm going through.
But if all we do in a conversation is vent to one another. Or in technical terms, we call that co rumination. We're just rubbing each other out. What happens is we leave that conversation feeling really good about our relationship with one another, but in terms of the chatter that got us to talking in the first place.
It's still screaming in our minds, right? Because we haven't done anything in that conversation to deal with the chatter, to reframe how we're thinking about that [00:31:00] problem in ways that ultimately help us manage it. So the best kinds of conversations when it comes to chatter, they actually do two things.
First, you do want to share what you're going through with the other person. It is important to express your emotions to a certain degree, but at a certain point in the conversation, the person you're talking to ideally helps you broaden your perspective. When we're experiencing chatter, we get so lost in the emotions we get stuck in this tunnel vision.
It's often hard for us to see the bigger picture, right? There's, Hey, there's more to it than just getting rejected. They're more efficiency it's happened. Everyone's been rejected or, everyone experiences, anxiety. Other people are in a prime position to help us see that bigger picture.
And so ideally they start nudging you to go to that place at the appropriate time during the conversation, that's the formula for a really productive conversation about chatter do both of those things. Listening [00:32:00] and then helping the person reframe their experience. And I think being mindful of those two features in the conversation can be important.
Both for helping listeners figure out who they should go to for chatter support, because there are some people out there who want to help, but they think that the way to help is to just get you to vent your feelings. That's not going to be good. So be really careful about who you go to for advice.
There are only like three or four people I seek out support from in my life when I'm experiencing chatter. And then on the flip side, knowing about these two elements of productive conversations, it puts you in a position to be a better advisor, a better chatter advisor to other people.
Hala Taha: [00:32:44] Yeah. While we're on this topic, let's just dive deep into it.
What are some of the strategies as somebody who is trying to help someone get out of chatter? What are the things we can do? I think there's a placebo effect that you talk about that we can utilize. Talk to us about some strategies in terms of being a [00:33:00] good advisor.
Ethan Kross: [00:33:01] So I'll try to break it down.
1, 2, 3, 4, make it very concrete. If someone comes to you specifically for chatter support, Hey, I have this problem. I need your input. Do the two step dance that we just talked about. So take your time to listen and then feel them out in the conversation and try to broaden their perspective.
There is I should say an art to doing this depending on the situation, the person, some people may need to spend more time venting than others before they're ready to go abroad. So you want to feel that out and you can ask the person you're talking to, Hey, you want to keep just expressing or can I offer you some other advice or, my perspective, if you want to keep talking totally fine.
Just keep going. So feel that out. Another set of strategies for helping others is something we call invisible forms of support. I think this is really important for people in relationships, people who are managing teams, people who have kids. In other words, it's important for everyone. Sometimes [00:34:00] you are going to come across situations where you see someone in your world who is experiencing chatter, but they haven't come to you for help.
But because we tend to be an empathic species. And particularly when it comes to people we care about, we often want to help people when we see them in need, seeing someone else would care about and in distress creates distress in ourselves. You want to reduce those feelings. You need to be careful though, because there can be some negative consequences associated with volunteering, your support.
If a person doesn't ask for it, unsolicited advice can blow up in our face. The canonical example is one between parents and kids of all ages. I experienced this with my kids sometimes, I see my daughter, she's struggling with her homework. I go over to her. She hasn't asked me for help. Hey sweetie, can I try to help you with this?
I see, here's another way to do this. I'm a teacher for a living. Let me try to help. Did I ask you for help? [00:35:00] Do you think I can't do this myself? And next thing I know my wife is being called I'm in trouble. So that's an example of a well-intentioned response that I'm trying to help blowing up in my face.
It's blowing up because what I've done by volunteering support, when it hasn't been asked for I'm threatening my daughter's sense of self-efficacy and autonomy, the idea that she is capable of doing something on our own. This is really important to many people. This knowledge that they are capable of achieving things on their own without the help of others.
And so we don't want to encroach upon that. The good news is that there are still ways we can help people when we see them in experiencing chatter and they don't ask for help. And that's where the invisible element of support comes in. And there are lots of ways you could do this. So at one, under the spectrum of my wife is experiencing, I know she's stressed out.
She's ruminating about staff. I can just try to make things easy.
Hala Taha: [00:35:58] And ruminating means thinking about the past.
Ethan Kross: [00:35:59] Yeah. [00:36:00] Oh my god. With this client I had, did I mess up? Did I mess up how I am? The advice I gave them. And then we also got to get the kids, set up for camp. And so sometimes the ping ponging in our heads with chatter goes to rumination Tori and back and forth.
And so let's say she's in that state. I could try to ease her burden by taking care of things without being asked to do taking care of dinner, picking up the groceries and managing that and picking up the kids, even though she was going to do that. So doing things to ease her load without her asking me for help, that's one form of invisible support that could be useful.
Another is getting people, the information they need without shining a spotlight on the fact that they need that information. So let's say someone in my lab is really struggling with their ability to communicate their findings clearly to a broad audience. I see them struggling and their presentations are not, [00:37:00] they're not excelling rather than pulling that person aside and say, Hey, we need to get you better.
In this regard, here are some books and resources. I can do things like send a note to my entire team and say, Hey, here are a couple of books I recently came across that are really useful. I find them really useful for improving my public speaking craft. You might want to, if you want to check them out here, they are on the lab.
So I'm getting the information out there. But without shining a spotlight on that one person's weakness, another kind of invisible support. Brings us to another powerful form of helping, which is touch. And there's a couple of caveats I need to give here before I go into it. But affectionate touch, a hug, a rub on the shoulder, a warm embrace.
This is arguably one of the most primitive tools we have for managing chatter. If you think about little kids, when they're born into this world, right? They are overcome with negativity. They're screaming their heads off the [00:38:00] way we sue them is skin to skin contact. We hold them. There's been studies which have looked at the consequences of affectionate touch, not just for little kids, but throughout the lifespan.
And what we know is that it can be a really useful tool for managing chatter. And it helps in two ways, the simple affectionate embrace of one another person when it's desired and mutual, not creepy, we'll get to the creepiness and a little bit, when you get an infection brace that automatically releases a cascade of stress fighting chemical reactions, you oxytocin is released and other kinds of feel good chemicals at a more conscious level.
When someone we love gives us a hug or rubs our back when we're stressed out, that reminds us, Hey, as bad as things are there, people out there in the world who really care about me and that can feel comforting as well. So touch is another way to help. The caveat of course, is [00:39:00] for it to be useful, it has to be mutual and desired.
So with your kids and partners or even close friends, you're probably fine, with your coworkers and colleagues, you might want to be a little bit careful with the hugs and pats on the back. So those are a bunch of ways that other people can help us with our child. The last thing I guess I should mention about the placebo is the power of belief is incredibly strong, right?
We know that if we give people who are overcome with chatter, a sugar pill, and we tell them, Hey, this is going to improve how you feel. You're going to feel much better after you take this pill. Just trust me. I know it's going to help you. If the person believes you that this taking this pill will make them feel better.
The pill has that effect. Even if the pill has no active ingredients, even if it is just sugar and water, right? That is the definition of a [00:40:00] placebo. And what we know is that other people can be a placebo for us. And the way that works is other people can instill within us hope and a positive outlook which can be really helpful for managing chatter as well.
So again, you want to be really thoughtful about who you surround yourself with and who you approach for support when you're experiencing chatter, because other people can be an amazing tool.
Hala Taha: [00:40:22] I think this is all really great helping us to be advisors, but like you said, most people in our lives are not going to be able to help us in this way.
And so we need to learn how to manage it ourselves. So let's talk about some of our tools. I know you list 10 tools in your book, you call it your chatter toolbox. So let's talk about some of these tools. Why don't we start with zooming out? What is the benefit of zooming out when we have internal chatter?
How can we do that? If you can give us an example, that'd be great.
Ethan Kross: [00:40:50] Sure. So when we experience chatter, we tend to zoom in tunnel vision. We're just, we're totally immersed in the negativity and we're thinking about it in a very narrow way. [00:41:00] And so what we've learned over the years is if you can do the opposite of that, if you could zoom out, take a step back and try to think about the experience from a more objective or what we call
distance perspective, that can be useful. And there are lots of ways of assuming out we've already talked about one. So language provides us a tool for zooming out rather than trying to work through your problems in the first person. Why am I feeling this way? What am I going to do? Why is Ethan feeling this way?
What is he going to do? It's you're talking to someone else. So you've got some mental space there.
Hala Taha: [00:41:36] Can I ask you a question about that really quick? Do you recommend that we write things down or do you recommend that this is all internal talk or talking out loud? What do you recommend there?
Ethan Kross: [00:41:46] Well, writing things down?
So when I do distance self-talk I do it internally in my head. I just try to think through the problem using my name. You can do it out loud if with a couple of caveats. [00:42:00] I would not encourage you to do it out loud while walking down the streets of a major city, because we tend not to talk to ourselves out loud.
And if you do that violates social conventions pretty strongly in ways that might have some negative consequences. If you feel compelled to coach yourself through a problem out loud in public, make sure you have a pair of AirPods in or headphones. So at least it looks like you're talking to someone else, but I typically do this in my head and the way it's been studied is doing it internally.
But we also know that there can be value from trying to work through our experiences in writing. We call this expressive writing. That's another way of distancing because when you're writing about your feelings. Trying to work through your problems. Essentially what you're doing is you're writing a story and stories have characters in them, and you are the character of your story.
So when you're writing that story, you're already in this distanced mode of thinking about your problem, right? What happened to Ethan there? Another [00:43:00] distancing tool people can use if you're visualizing a past experience or a future one that you're worried about rather than see that experience happen through your own eyes.
So let's say I'm, I'm thinking about a fight I had with someone else. Why did I respond that way rather than seeing that person insult me from a first person, advantage point, adopt the perspective of the fly on the wall, see yourself in the scene, interacting with that other person, right?
Almost like you're in a director's seat, watching the two actors engage in the interaction and then try to figure out why did that person over there? Actually, that was me. Why did he respond that way? That's another way of distancing and I can keep going with other tools and they're all in the book and listed. The point
I think that's really important for listeners to hear is that, and this is something I feel very strongly about. There are no single magic pills that help when it come to chatter. Instead, what we've learned is that there are a variety of tools that exist. [00:44:00] I've just rattled off. I don't know, three or four, 26 of them in the book.
And I think the real challenge for listeners is to figure out what are the unique combinations of tools that work best for them given the unique types of chatter that they're experiencing in their life? When it comes, if I'm experiencing chatter, I have four or five tools that I might go to tools or coach myself using my own name.
I'll do something called mental time travel. We haven't talked about it. If I'm really stressed out about something like a talk I've got to give I'll think about how am I going to feel next week when the talk is over? Usually once a talk is done, right? I know as bad as it can possibly be.
And it never is that bad, but as bad as I can imagine it being, it will be over in hour. And then I'll go on with my life. There'll be other things. And so just reminding yourself of that by thinking of how are you going to feel a month from now about this or a year from now? That's another tool I use. I go to other people, I have my [00:45:00] chatter advisors that I can rely on.
And then there are things I do with nature that maybe we'll talk about a little bit but those are the tools that work best for me, the tools that my wife relies on are a different set of tools. So there really is some self exploration that I think listeners need to do to really figure out what are those tools that worked best for them.
Hala Taha: [00:45:22] Yeah. And
I also think it matters in terms of what the circumstances, because I imagine that sometimes you don't have time. To really have that internal dialogue or write anything down or ask yourself questions or zoom out. Sometimes you just don't have time. If you're an athlete and you're on the court and you need to make that shot and you have one chance, or, you're taking a test and you feel anxious and you have a time limit to finish your test.
So what do we do in those moments where we have, we don't have time? What are some things that we can do to refocus and get out of that very quickly.
Ethan Kross: [00:45:54] Yeah. And I think this is precisely why, you really hit the nail on the head, right? There's so many different [00:46:00] kinds of situations that we experience in life and they pose different kinds of challenges.
So it's so interesting, like the human mind, and this is true of all of us, we like simplicity. We really want simple solutions to things. That's why we're usually looking for, one shot fixes all approaches, but life isn't that simple, right? There's a lot of complexity. And so it makes sense that the mind has evolved in ways to help us manage that complexity.
And it doesn't involve using a hammer. If I use the metaphor to deal with every kind of problem we possess, we have the emotional tool equivalent of hammers and pliers and screwdrivers and drills. We've got a whole elaborate toolbox to help us manage the different problems we encounter. So what can people do in the moment?
So I think distance self-talk is one tool that is really useful in the moment because it's super easy to use. We've done brain study, brain [00:47:00] imaging studies. We know that benefits kick in within a matter of Microsoft milliseconds.
Hala Taha: [00:47:06] And again, that's talking in third person, however, relax,
Ethan Kross: [00:47:10] Ethan this is yours.
You're going to nail the shot, do it right. Very easily. Another tool that is somewhat misunderstood, but can be very useful. It's often used by athletes and performers quite a bit, is engaging in a routine. So a ritual, this is a structured sequence of behaviors. Something you do the same way every single time.
So I've got a right to my left. He can't see it. I've got a little, it's like a little sculpture that my father-in-law gave me. It's a little head, it sits on a little platform. And before I give a big presentation, I'll go, I'll rub the rub, the sculptors head, I'll say the same, a message in my head.
And then I do it right. And I always do that behavior. The exact same way. That's a little ritual I've developed. What we know about rituals is they can help people managing [00:48:00] chatter and the way they work is as follows. When we're experiencing chatter, we often feel like we don't have control of our thoughts.
They're controlling us. Everything's out of order. What we've learned is that by performing a ritual that helps us compensate for that feeling of a lack of control because when rituals are under our control. They're highly ordered. So when we do something the exact same way, every single time, that makes us feel in control, which helps us manage the chatter.
This is also one of the reasons why so many people report cleaning and organizing when they're experiencing chatter. This is true for me as well. I'm not like my emo in the house is, constantly accused correctly of leaving a trail of clothing from the shower to my office. I'm very free, big, it doesn't always sounds just like a what stuff everywhere.
And so I, it just doesn't bother [00:49:00] me, but when I'm experiencing chatter, I will like make the rounds in the house, clean all of the dishes, neatly stack the pots, organize my bookcases, what that's doing. It's giving me a sense of order and control, and that can be really useful. There's there's a great anecdote from the tennis player, Rafael Nadal, who was once asked.
He's famous, I should say for doing these really elaborate rituals, every time he plays tennis and he was once asked what's the hardest thing you struggle to do on the tennis court. And his answer was really striking. It wasn't keep up with his opponents instead. He says the hardest thing I struggled to do
is managed the voices inside my head. And he then goes on to say he engages in rituals PR because it provides him with a sense of order that he often lacks a sense of control. And so knowing about this again, allows us to be really deliberate about folding these practices into our life. So if you find yourself [00:50:00] experiencing chatter, develop a ritual and implement that ritual right before the chatter provoking event or while you're experiencing it.
Hala Taha: [00:50:08] Yeah. And I feel like so many talented people do these little rituals. You'll see these basketball players whenever they take a free throw, they're like, brushing their shoulders off, whatever they're doing, bouncing the ball a few times, taking a pause. I think it's really interesting. My boyfriend he'll have to vacuum the whole house before he can.
He's a music producer. He says he can't get creative until everything is in order. And he's so crazy about it.
Ethan Kross: [00:50:31] But there is sanity in what you just described as craziness. And that's what I love about the science here, right? Because so many people are naturally doing this. Why are they doing it? That's where we could turn to science because scientists have done the experiments to show.
Actually this serves a function. We're more likely to do it when we're under stress and it helps alleviate it. When I was writing chatter, when there were moments of chatter and, oh my God, [00:51:00] am I ever gonna work out this chapter and make the deadline? I would just I'd start doing what your boyfriend does.
I'd start going around the house. And initially my wife thought, I think she was a little concerned to be quite honest because this behavior was so out of character. And then I think she began secretly. She would not admit it even under pain of many things. She would not admit this, but I suspect that she was.
She was sometimes rooting for a little bit of chatter. So for me to experience a little chatter because she was so happy with the condition of the home.
Hala Taha: [00:51:34] And an unexpected benefit.
Ethan Kross: [00:51:35] That's right? Here's another way to think about this. There were things we could do on our own, in our heads to manage chatter.
There are ways of harnessing our relationships with other people to manage our chatter. And then there are ways of interacting with our physical spaces, the world around us that can help us manage chatter. There are literally tools within us and all [00:52:00] around us, and a real motivation for writing this book was to bring all those different findings and strands of evidence all together in one place, both so that people can better understand this mysterious facet of
the human condition, like this voice in our head and when it conspires against us, what can we do about it? And then to help give them tools that they can be extremely deliberate about using in their lives.
Hala Taha: [00:52:29] I love this topic because I feel like it is the foundation of being productive. Like I feel like harnessing your internal chatter and being in a healthy mental state is the first step and actually being productive, which is the foundation of being successful.
You know what I mean? So it's you have to figure this out so that you can actually focus and do good work.
Ethan Kross: [00:52:51] I couldn't agree more. We know that. So we've got a limited ability to focus at any given moment in time. And we, with what happens with [00:53:00] chatter is our chatter consumes all of those focus resources we have.
And so if you've ever experienced chatter, which most people have, you've probably had the experience of trying to read a few pages in a book. You read those pages while you're experiencing the chatter. You're sure that you've read the words, but you don't remember anything that you've read by the time you're done with the pages that's because your mind was with somewhere else, it was on the chatter not
what you're trying to do. This is why one of the reasons why the world health organization just put a statistic on what the cost to the global economy of anxiety and depression are. And we know chatter fuels those states that cost was put at over a trillion dollars. So this is not a trivial issue chatter.
I really think this is one of the, one of the great problems that our species I, we human beings struggle with. And so the, the good news is that there are things we can do about it to be more productive, have better relationships.
Hala Taha: [00:53:58] So there's one point that I want [00:54:00] to drill home, which is this idea of thinking towards the future.
And it goes against a lot of this self-improvement advice that's out there, which is all about being in the now being in the present. I am very always thinking about the future. That is actually people tell me that I've been told that's a negative trait that I'm, I have to be in the present and that I'm not in the present enough.
I'm always worried about the future. That's what I hear sometimes. So talk to us about what's your perspective on that.
Ethan Kross: [00:54:26] So my perspective is there can be great benefits associated with refocusing our attention on the now being in the moment at particular times, when you're experiencing chatter. The message we often hear though, is that we should constantly strive to be in the moment.
I think a this is not possible. It works against the way the human mind operates. And B I don't think it would be particularly productive. The human mind evolved to allow us to travel in time to think about the past and the future, as well as focus on the present, [00:55:00] this ability to travel in time is a super power.
It allows us to do things like learn from our past, right? How important is it for us to learn from our past experiences? Think about the changes that are occurring to society right now, at least in the United States, with the, the various kinds of social movements where we're now thinking about the past and trying to improve in various ways, this is true at a societal, but also a personal level, right?
Did that law, did I mentor that person properly? Could I have done this better? That ability to learn from the past is crucial. The ability to plan and simulate for the future is I think also vital to our success, right? The ability to anticipate where something might go wrong. So we can take action to prevent that from happening, right?
Like I don't want to live a life without that capacity. Hala I also don't want to live a life without the ability to experience nostalgia. To think about the vacations that I, once in a former pre [00:56:00] COVID lifetime took with my family that were just magical or fantasize about the vacations I'm going to take in the future with my family and the fun we're going to have. Those experiences make life worth living to me.
So the challenge I think we face is not to figure out how we can stop traveling in time in our minds to always be in the present. The challenge I think we face is how can we make people better mental time travelers? How can we help people go back in time to learn from a past negative experience without getting stuck in it?
How can we allow people to think about a negative potential future consequence without getting stuck there? That's the challenge. And what we know is that things like re-focusing on the present and mindfulness meditation, those are some empirically supported tools that can be effective, but there's a giant boatload of additional tools that also exist.
And they [00:57:00] don't involve doing that. And I think the more we can educate people about what the what the diversity of tools are that are out there, the better we will be able to help people live the kinds of lives they want to live.
Hala Taha: [00:57:12] 100%. And I think everybody should go get Ethan's book Chatter because it is amazing.
And I know we're running up on time here. So I want to talk about this digital world that we live in because we are so distracted. There's so much going on. In COVID, I'm literally on my computer, on my phone, 16 hours a day, a little bit after I wake up till I'm, when I'm in bed, like everyone is on their phones on social media.
Is there some way that we're supposed to interact with these digital mediums that is healthy or unhealthy in terms of navigating our mental health and things like that? Like how do you suggest we use social media in a healthy way rather than a negative way?
Ethan Kross: [00:57:55] I love the way you frame that question, because it's easy to [00:58:00] try to reduce social media, to oversimplify things and say it.
It's you know, this is the end of society. Now that we're on social media or it's the best thing that ever happened to society. It's neither, it's both. I think of social media as a new kind of environment that we spend a lot of time interacting in and environments tend not to be good or bad, whether they help or harm on us, depends on how we navigate those environments.
So if we take the offline world, there are ways of navigating the offline world that can do as harm you, interact in the wrong ways, with the wrong people in the wrong places, you could get in deep trouble, interact with the right people in the right ways in the right places. Really good things
come of that. Now what's interesting is if we think about this offline world, we're taught how to navigate that space from a very young age. Are parents or caretakers or friends or teachers, they socialize us into how to navigate the world in a way that will ideally give us some [00:59:00] advantage. And the lessons that were taught have been handed down from generation to generation and curated in a certain sense. What's interesting about social media and that online environment is that because it is so new and we're really, we're talking like less than maybe it's about 15 years and maybe, or around that, maybe 10 that people have really been on it.
We haven't had the time to develop that cultural knowledge about how to navigate the space. And social media is really complicated because unlike the offline world, which the offline world has looked more or less the same for centuries in the sense that there's gravity, right? Like the print, the physical principles are the same and you speak to other people and so forth and so on.
Every social media application is different. They have different rules and, if the creators changed the algorithm, they could change how the social media universe works. And so those lessons [01:00:00] about how to navigate that space, we're only beginning to identify them. And so the good news here is that there's been a ton of science devoted to this over the past decade.
And we are beginning to learn about what some of the levers are, the social media levers that we can pull to experience good or bad things. So if we start with the dark side, the bad stuff, we now know that if you are passively consuming information about other people that you tend to be competitive with this can make you not feel so good about your own life.
Because what social media allows us to do is curate the way we present ourselves, where we present our best selves on social media for a variety of very good reasons. And when you are just scrolling through your feeds and bombarded with these amazing experiences of others that can leave you lead you to not feel so great about your own life, because you obviously understand that your own life [01:01:00] is typically filled with both highs and lows.
So passively consuming that information, especially for people who are competitive and engage in social comparisons, this can lead to chatter. We also know that social media can make it easy, easier for us to act ugly to other people, to engage in things like cyber bullying and trolling, right?
Right now, as I'm talking, I can see how you're reacting. You're nodding your head. You're smiling. Your eyes are lifted. You're giving me a wealth of information that tells me how, what I'm saying is affecting you emotionally. And I'm actually calibrating how I respond in turn. If I saw you beginning to look away and yawn, I might start speaking a lot quicker and try to wrap things up.
So there's so much information we're getting and social media stripped all that information away because we're just talking to a screen. It makes it a lot easier for us to act in ugly ways that can create [01:02:00] real emotional harm and physical harm in other people. So social comparisons, NV, cyber bullying, trolling.
These are the bad things that we want to try to avoid.
Hala Taha: [01:02:09] Can I add
one thing to the bat just to, and maybe you haven't thought about it and sorry if I'm, I haven't heard you talk about it, but with social justice things going on. So for example, black lives matter, I'm Palestinian. So me and my Palestinian friends going crazy right now, like it, and because I have a lot of Palestinian family, friends, I see all their social media all the time.
It is every time I'm on social media. First thing I want to do is look at the negative. What's going on? What's going on? How do I like w That's probably not healthy either. And I think contributes to internal chatter. So I'd love to hear like your thoughts about that aspect as well.
And the fact that you hear more of what you're already hearing about.
Ethan Kross: [01:02:49] Yeah, no, I think this is an area that is being actively researched and I think it is, it's a huge issue that we need to figure out because essentially what I see [01:03:00] happening is we are engaging. We talked before about vent sessions and could this coal rumination, I think when we have these different kinds of social justice issues, we often see a lot of people engaging in this massive co rumination session themselves that takes on it's like co rumination on steroids, right?
Because many people are getting in on it and pinging back and forth and it's keeping it active in our minds. It's making us aware of it in a way that we wouldn't be, if we were awful. Because we're not always with other people or, and but instead, every time you look at your feed, more of this negative information about this particular topic.
You're also not necessarily seeing people who are espousing, opposing viewpoints that I think in an ideal world, we always want to consider. We always want to try to take the perspective of the other party and then have them take ours and try to find some middle ground because we're just [01:04:00] thinking about our own position, what that can lead to is this kind of polarization that drives grooves.
I'm going to try to say it a third time, not grooves as in the music, but groups drives groups apart. And so the fact that you're aware of this is I think step one, and it's a huge first step, step two is to then begin to take action. And I think this is really where we get into the wild west of social media when it comes to science, which is both exciting and daunting.
I think we need to start thinking a lot about what are the networks that we are engaged in, right? We're creating these networks. We have control over the networks, our Facebook network, our Instagram network or Twitter network. How does the composition of our network effect. What is getting in our own head.
If you look at the prompt and Facebook, the prompt says, what is on your mind? It is beckoning us to express our [01:05:00] chatter to everyone out there in our network, right? Social media is providing us in a certain sense with a giant megaphone to broadcast our chatter to the world. And what I, I think what your question is really getting to the very hard of is what the consequences of doing that of broadcasting.
What is on our mind, our verbal thoughts to others can be. And I think we're, we've seen lots of instances where it can have massive effects on people. And so it's a big issue.
Hala Taha: [01:05:28] This has been an amazing conversation. Honestly, one of my favorite conversations from the recent times, I hope we get you back on Young And Profiting Podcast.
So the last question I ask all my guests, and this is definitely your chance to give any sort of last value bomb that you want to give is what is your secret to profiting and life?
Ethan Kross: [01:05:48] My secret to profiting in life. Number one, I manage my chatter. People ask me often, do I ever experienced, it as an expert on it?
Yes, I do. I'm a human, but I'm really good at [01:06:00] detecting when it's happening and then implementing tools that helps me be really productive in life as does the simple rule of treating other people with kindness and respect. That doesn't mean I'm a doormat, but it does mean that I always try to find the bright side and empathize and connect.
And I think that is something that has been helpful.
Hala Taha: [01:06:24] Awesome.
And where can our listeners go to learn more about you and everything that you do?
Ethan Kross: [01:06:29] www.ethankross.com. It's Kross with a K R O S S. And they can find out about me and the book and our research and lots of other stuff.
Hala Taha: [01:06:38] Yes. So that's Dr.
Ethan Kross. He wrote the book called Chatter. I'll stick all the links in the show notes. This was an awesome conversation. I absolutely loved it. I hope to have you back on again. Thank you so much.
Ethan Kross: [01:06:49] Thanks Hala. The feeling is totally mutual. Thanks for doing what you do.
Hala Taha: [01:06:53] Thanks for listening to Young And Profiting Podcast.
If you haven't yet, please take a moment to subscribe to this podcast. [01:07:00] I truly enjoyed this conversation with Ethan. He gave us so many different internal dialogue and mental health tips, and we talked about introspection, which is the ability to turn our attention inwards and change your mind. Ethan reminded us that we are the only species in the whole world that can do this, but feelings like anxiety and sadness usually suppress our ability to introspect.
Our inner dialogue can be both harmful and helpful. On one hand, it helps us understand who we are and it helps us achieve our goals. On the other hand, it can become our chatter. Ethan describes chatter as getting stuck in a negative Whirlpool it's when we're focusing on the awful part of her situations, instead of the positive, when we ruminate or chronically worry about the past, we can become really overwhelmed.
So I'd like to highlight a couple of my favorite tools in Ethan's chatter toolbox that we talked about today to help it really stick in your minds. I want to drill home the idea of [01:08:00] distance self-talk. Ethan says that we should use our ability to step back from the echo chamber of our own minds so that we can adopt a new perspective on our situation.
When you're trying to work through a difficult experience, you can use your own name to coach herself through the problem. Another way to think about your experience from a distance perspective is to imagine what you would say to her friend who is experiencing the same problem as you. Think about the advice you'd give them and then apply it to yourself.
Take your own advice. Another way to gain distance and broaden your perspective is to think about how you'll feel in a month, a year or five years from now. Mental time travel, so to speak, remind yourself that, you'll look back on, whatever is upsetting you in the feature, and it will see much less upsetting doing so highlights the impermanence of your current emotional state, and you'll feel much better.
Remember, the key to beating chatter isn't to stop talking to yourself. The challenge is to figure out how to do it more [01:09:00] effectively. Again, if you're interested in the psychology of the mind and how to comment, take a listen to episode number 46 mindfulness meditation, and manifesting with Emily Fletcher.
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We are so grateful for our listeners and we thank you for all your support. You can find me on Instagram at yapwithhala or LinkedIn, just search my name. It's Hala Taha. And now I'm on clubhouse. I'm hosting rooms in there every single week. My username halataha be sure to follow me on there. Big, thanks to the YAP team as always.
This is Hala signing off.
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