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20221029 – Chatter



This book explores an essential feature of human existence: internal chatter. The author defines it this way in the introduction:” Chatter consists of the cyclical negative thoughts and emotions that turn our singular capacity for introspection into a curse rather than a blessing. It puts our performance, decision making, relationships, happiness, and health in jeopardy. We think about that screwup at work or misunderstanding with a loved one and end up flooded by how bad we feel. Then we think about it again. And again. We introspect hoping to tap into our inner coach but find our inner critic instead.”  Then the discussion goes into why it happens and how it impacts our behavior and relationships with others. In conclusion, the book provides a set of tools to deal with the chatter and hopefully achieve the condition of clear and constructive thinking. Here is the list of tools:

  1. Use distanced self-talk.
  2. Imagine advising a friend.
  3. Broaden your perspective.
  4. Reframe your experience as a challenge.
  5. Reinterpret your body’s chatter response.
  6. Normalize your experience.
  7. Engage in mental time travel.
  8. Change the view.
  9. Write expressively.
  10. Adopt the perspective of a neutral third party.
  11. Clutch a lucky charm or embrace a superstition.
  12. Perform a ritual.



I think the internal flow of verbalized thoughts is the key to understanding the human condition because humans live their lives in the imaginary world only marginally connected to reality. This imaginary world simultaneously includes past, present, and future, defining human actions, whether these actions are kinetic or communicative. Depending on how close our internal imaginary world is to reality, these actions will be successful or unsuccessful in achieving the intended result.

It also defines our memories. Interestingly enough, in a few well-documented cases when human infants were raised by animals and brought into normal environments, they had no recollection of their life before language acquisition. Actually, every one of us would have a tough time remembering anything from our life for the first two years when we have no tool for internal chatter. So, the point is one should not be afraid of the inner chatter but rather look at it as a vital part of existence that should be consciously controlled to assure its consistency with objective reality.   


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