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Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It Hardcover – January 26, 2021
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"There's something deeply mysterious, even awesome, about our inner voice, the means by which we make ourselves aware of who we are and what we think. Kross has good ideas about how to manage and control this voice."—The New Yorker
"Are there right and wrong ways to communicate with yourself, and if so, are there techniques that might usefully be employed by those with inner voices that are just a little too loud? . . . Kross has found answers to some, if not all, of these questions. . . . [Chatter] could hardly be published at a more opportune moment."—The Guardian
"This compelling collection of stories examines the power that we have to harness our positive and negative thoughts through the conversations we have with ourselves in silent and the incredible that’s already within us to embrace our highest self."—CNN
"You know that voice in your head, the one that cheers you on . . . or cuts you down? Psychologist Kross explains how to quiet your inner Debbie Downer and harness self-talk for success."—People
"Kross may be a scientist by trade, but with Chatter he proves himself a deft storyteller who, through levity and wit, creates an easily digestible work on the brain, how it works and how we can quiet our often relentless chatter."—USA Today
"[An] instructive guide to both normalizing anxiety and distancing ourselves from it."—Harvard Business Review
"Fresh and riveting, Chatter is a masterpiece—a landmark book that will change the way you think about human nature. Required reading for all."—Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit
"Ethan Kross isn’t just a world-renowned scientist, he’s an expert storyteller too. In Chatter, he shows why our inner voice is indispensable, and reveals how we can master it. Urgent, lucid, and compelling, Chatter is the groundbreaking and transformative book the world needs now."—Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet
"This book is going to fundamentally change some of the most important conversations in your life—the ones you have with yourself."—Adam Grant, bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
"I’ve demonstrated throughout my career how negative thoughts can spiral and undermine people’s success. In Chatter, Ethan Kross weaves cutting-edge science with riveting stories to reveal the tools people can use to manage these experiences. Chatter is a truly compelling and valuable book."—Carol Dweck, author of Mindset
"Ethan is a deep and original thinker and a thorough, always thought-provoking researcher. He’s one of the psychologists whose work I always read whenever I see his name."—Maria Konnikova, bestselling author of The Biggest Bluff
"Ethan Kross has written the definitive work on how to redirect our inner voices away from rumination and self-criticism and toward reflection and self-improvement. Chatter is a profound and practical book—one that will leave you with both a fresh understanding of yourself and new strategies to live a fuller life."—Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of When and Drive
"Ethan Kross illuminates and solves the crucial issue of mastering self-talk in this modern classic. Compulsively readable and refreshingly original."—Dave Evans, bestselling author of Designing Your Life
"Stimulating . . . Kross, the director of the University of Michigan’s Emotion & Self Control Laboratory, debuts with an eye-opening look at managing ‘the silent conversations people have with themselves."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
- Publisher : Crown (January 26, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0525575235
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525575238
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.8 x 0.95 x 8.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I had been scouring the internet for a psychology book that dealt with the topic of self-talk. I didn't want it to be overly-complicated nor overly-simplified (I tend to find that pop psychology often falls into the latter category.) What Kross offers is an entertaining, light-science, intelligent, and incredibly useful book to deal with the internal conversations we have with ourselves. It was exactly the book I had been trying to find on the subject. Kross's ability to use clear, easy-to-understand examples but not draw them out too long is perfect. Many authors unfortunately commit the common sin of using examples that drag on and on until tedium turns into disinterest and you're forced to put the book down. Not with Kross. He is keenly aware of how to pace his writing, knows when to use an example and how to bring it around to his point with a sharp and effective edge. He also plays the fiction writer's game of leaving cliff-hangers at the end of chapters to keep momentum. Smart.
Chatter, in its entirety, is a book of substance. Every sentence counts, every point coheres, and every tip and tool are practical. Instead of summarizing at the end of each chapter, Kross summarizes his main points after the conclusion of the book--a nice touch in my opinion.
The primary take-away from Kross' book is how you can reframe how you talk to yourself and the incredible effect that can have on your (and others') well-being, especially during hard times. I would have liked to see a chapter on actual examples of positive things you can say, affirmative action statements, statements of willingness etc, but he leaves what you say kind of up to you.
All in all I am very pleased with Chatter. I'm glad I spent the money on it and look forward to any future work he might release.
His book is divided into seven chapters and an appendix outlining the specific tools discussed in the book to reduce anxiety and offer hope.
Much of the talk we say to ourselves is helpful. We plan for an interview; we think about what we want to say in a presentation; we rehearse our conversation with our mother-in-law before Thanksgiving Day dinner; we talk to ourselves about how to apologize to our spouse for our rude behavior and irritability.
Professor Kross, and other neuroscientists, have discovered that we are the authors of our life stories; our brain secretes interpretations of the world to help us create a coherent, sensible, explanation for events and our experiences.
Professor Kross estimates we spend about one-third to one-half of our waking hours talking to ourselves. He says people can think to themselves at a rate that is equal to speaking 4,000 words per-minute out loud.
Sometimes what we say to ourselves backfires. We may catastrophize problems; ruminate through redundant loops of irrational thinking; bombard ourselves with negative thoughts, sabotage our ability to think clearly, and gain access to reams of negative self-talk ---- called chatter.
This chatter can negatively affect our relationships, our work, and our physical health.
Effective psychological therapy helps us to acknowledge our feelings and experiences, helps us bear our feelings and experiences without distorting reality, and helps us put our feelings and experiences into perspective.
Through peer reviewed research, Professor Kross and his colleagues from all over the world, have identified methods or tools to expand our abilities to acknowledge, bear, and put into perspective our negative self-talk.
These are times that test our mental health. If you are not anxious now, there is something wrong with you: the uncertainty of the pandemic --- sickness, death, loss; isolation from family and friends; the closing of schools requiring remote learning, a process new to teachers and students, often interfering with a parents’ ability to earn a living and children getting a proper education this year. Economic uncertainty – Will I be able to find another job? Will my business survive? When will I get the vaccine against the Corona virus? Political polarization. I’m not used to staying home with my spouse and children for twenty-four hours a day. I thought marital relationships are for better or worse, but not for lunch. These are only a few of the burdens and stresses preoccupying millions of citizens.
My lawyer colleagues tell me filings for divorce have increased. Child protective service workers report an increase in domestic violence. Mental maladies such as depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and the horrors of suicide have increased.
Professor Kross offers an array of techniques aimed to reduce stress and anxiety, and to help you put these challenges into perspective. Not all of these tools work for everybody, but you are likely to find some methods that work for you.
Someone said life is like climbing one mountain after another ---- the lifetime challenge is to enjoy mountain climbing.
An underlying theme of Professor Kross’ creative, eloquent work, is to change your thinking to steady your emotions - to promote more rational thinking, self-control, self-confidence, reduce emotional distress, and find ways to enjoy mountain climbing.
When he was a boy growing up, Professor Kross said whenever he faced a problem, his father would tell him, “to go inside,” to introspect, and a solution will occur to him. This fatherly advice, helped a lot.
Yet, when Professor Kross took his first psychology class, to his chagrin, he learned the complexities of introspection. He wanted to know more about how to study the benefits of introspection and self-talk.
In his book, Professor Kross takes us on a tour of tools generated from his lab and those of colleagues, that illuminate research-based methods to use introspection, to drop a bomb, so to speak, to stop self-talk gone crazy.
These tools, such as distance self-talk, coach us through problems --- talking to ourselves using our own name (not out loud), rather than the pronoun “I” to work through predicaments. Professor Kross has found examples of highly successful people – athletes, courageous young activists, and others who spontaneously make use of this seemingly simple technique.
Another tool is called temporal distancing or mental time travel --- taking our minds into the future, telling ourselves that this pandemic will end, we will see our friends and family, we will get back to a more normal life.
Professor Kross mentions some tools that many of us use that at first, we would not associate with reducing anxiety: cleaning our desk, organizing our clothes in the closet, cleaning the pots and pans. Controlling your outside environment helps us take charge of the internal chatter.
Another tool that may reduce the backfiring chatter in our mind, is the experience of awe ---- we look up at the stars in the sky and realize we are one of billions of planets – maybe our problems are not so overwhelming after all.
Research studies in Professor Kross’ lab tells us we benefit from emotional support when we share our internal chatter with understanding family or friends. But talking about our feelings may bring us closer to the listening friend, but unless we learn ways to broaden our perspective, to reframe our experiences, this venting of chatter may not help.
No matter how good we get at using the creative, research-based tools in this book, coping with inevitable predicaments, moral dilemmas, atrocities, tragedies, fear, rejection, betrayal and more, maintaining mental stability is an ongoing challenge and process through life.
Is it fair? No. Is it reality? Yes.
Should your mental maladies interfere with your daily life, these psychological tools are some of the building blocks of effective psychological therapy.
Psychological therapy may help reduce this negative chatter. You begin to acknowledge and understand the sources of your emotional distress, enhance your coping strategies, and recognize the breadth of your strengths. With increased knowledge and emotional learning, you not only put your life into a more coherent perspective, but you also learn to face life-predicaments with acceptance, flexibility, courage, tolerance, and the ability to take responsibility for your actions. Your self-talk will reflect these changes.
Psychological therapy and reducing your chatter will not enable a life of contentment. Contentment is for cows. Getting control of your negative chatter may help you start to enjoy mountain climbing.
Most psychological self-help books fit under the category of fiction. Dr. Kross’ book, “Chatter,” is that rare researched based psychology book that gets filed under nonfiction. Do yourself a favor, read this book. You will say to yourself, "thank you."
Top reviews from other countries
For me, this book provided no “groundbreaking” information and is certainly not “a masterpiece”. Cain and Grant recommendations led me to this book but now I will take their recommendations less seriously.
This book maybe useful if you are starting out in life or have not learnt/read about psychology insights and other self-management/awareness teachings.
The final summary of tools to cope with chatter is pretty simple, obvious, intuitively knowable and timeless knowledge. I am not sure it needs so many more hours and money of research to arrive at. Not sure it warrants yet another book on the subject matter.
The most useful information gets lost to non professional reader.