Pursue What Matters
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Do you have a lot of chatter happening in your head? Well, if you do, you’re not alone. And if you do, and you want to learn more about the voice in your head, why it matters and how to harness it, you’ve got to join me for today’s podcast.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:35
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Chatter. We all have it, we all have a voice in our head. So there was a great book decades ago, with the title that I absolutely love. And the title is What to Say, When You Talk to Yourself. Now there are a couple of things I love about this title. First of all, it is the assumption that we’re all talking to ourselves, right. And if you don’t believe that’s true, I want to tell you, you’re wrong. We all have chatter in our head, we all talk to ourselves, we’re always carrying on a monologue in our head. The second thing that I love about this book title is it’s giving you some recommendations of how you can harness that voice in your head. So it is helping you and not hurting you. And boy, let me tell you, in my career as a psychologist and a leadership coach, the place and the way that people get most turned around is in their head. The assumptions that they make about situations, the expectations, they put on themselves, the critical voice that they have in their head.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:51
So one of the ways that I talk about this a lot on the podcast, and you know, when I’m doing leadership trainings, is storytelling. So we have experiences in the present moment. And then we tell ourselves stories about those experiences. And the stories we tell ourselves are the chatter, right? Like that’s the voice in the head, that’s always bringing along a running commentary. And if you just stop and think about that for a moment, if the running commentary in your head is negative, and it’s shame filled and blame filled and judgment filled, you can see how that can create some incredible suffering some incredible misery in your life, as opposed to the voice in your head, the running commentary in your head, being able to be optimistic, encouraging, having some self compassion, that’s a game changer.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:50
And so today with the podcast, I want to share with you a really excellent new book, it just came out, I’m so excited about it. That is all focused on that voice in our head. And I was so excited about this. Because first of all, I talk about this concept all the time, as a leadership coach. And as a psychologist, I’m always talking to my clients about it. And this idea that how you talk to yourself really, really matters. And it’s one of the most important ways that we can overcome challenges, we can shift towards more happiness in life, greater well being. And really, it’s, it’s a vehicle for healing is a vehicle for overcoming life’s challenges. So I’m super excited about this book, I think for most of us, we do not pay enough attention to what’s happening between our ears, we assume that the most significant changes in our life will be external to ourselves. And that’s just pretty ridiculous, actually, you have much more power than you know. And that power is laying in your head, right? So your brain, we want to harness the power of your brain. We even make the assumption that the change that can happen in our body will create more happiness and well being and certainly while taking good care of ourselves. And you know, maintaining health is incredibly important for wellbeing, obviously, the body is something we have less control of. And if you try to rigidly control your body, you’ll find that that is not a path to wellbeing. And so just as I have shared recently in the book review, resilient, the mind is the place right that is that is the place where we have the most opportunity to change the way we see ourselves the way we see others the our outlook on life and to really move us towards greater wellbeing. And that’s exactly what this book is talking about. So I’m super excited about it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:08
Okay, so what is the book, the book is called Chatter, I mean, what a perfect name, right? So Chatter: The Voice in our Head, Why it Matters, and How to Harness it. And it’s by Ethan Kross, who is a psychologist from University of Michigan. So go Wolverines. I did my internship at University of Michigan. So I have a ton of affection for University of Michigan, and Ann Arbor in particular, and the great, the great work that is going on there, and the psychology department at University of Michigan is awesome. And so Ethan Kross comes to us from University of Michigan. So before we jump in, and I introduced you a little bit more to the book, I want to just clue you in into why I chose this book. Now, I’ve already talked a little bit about that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:56
But of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead, right? I try to do that in one of three areas, leading with clarity, do you have a connection to purpose, why you’re doing and why it matters. Second, leading with curiosity, this is all about cultivating self awareness and self leadership and self care skills, right? We’ve got to have a secure foundation within ourselves. And then third is leading and building a community. So what are the specific skills that really help you to build and lead a community? Boy, that’s important. And so today, our primary focus is on leading with curiosity. So that’s my goal to help you strengthen your ability to lead via curiosity. And so why curiosity. Curiosity is all about self awareness, to understand the voice in your head, to understand how the voice in your head is actually influencing you and impacting you. Because what I have found for a lot of people that come into work with me, they’re kind of clueless about the voice in the head, they take the voice in the head as truth. And if your voice in your head is negative, shame filled, blameville, judgment filled, boy, you’re in trouble, then the truth that you see about yourself and about others and about the world is so incredibly undermining, its negative, its pessimistic It is, it is the epitome of a fixed mindset. And so to recognize, first of all, that the voice in your head is not truth, the voice in your head is not you that alone, that understanding alone, can be revolutionary. And then from there to understand that there are things that you can do to help yourself there are things that you can do to shift the voice in your head to quiet the chatter that you might be contending with. And to really move you to a place of peace, and of course, greater wellbeing. So we are going to strengthen curiosity by really wrapping our heads around chatter and the voice in our head.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:12
Okay, so this book just came out, let’s introduce you to this book a little bit more. Again, the title is chatter, the voice in our head, why it matters and how to harness it. Now I’ve listened to it on as an audio, it was very good, very engaging, it’s not that long, I usually bump up the speed a little bit, but it was really good. I think I listened to it in two days. But I also have the book and am reading it as I go. And this is the kind of book at least if you’re a geeky like me, I want to have it. I as I listened to the book, I found myself making all these notes in my audio app in terms of I want to go back to this, I want to spend more time with this. And so just know that there’s a lot of richness in this book, and it is based entirely on the research. But it’s not boring. It’s not stuffy. It’s really wonderful. And so let’s see what others are saying about chatter. So this is some advanced praise. So first of all, from Adam Grant, who you know, I’m a fan of, if you’ve listened to any of the podcasts, what he said is “this book is going to fundamentally change some of the most important conversations in your life, the ones you have with yourself.” And think about that for just a moment. Right? We spend time strengthening our communication skills, strengthening our effectiveness with others, but are we attending to the most important conversations of our life? And those are the conversations that are happening between our ears. And this book is really designed to help you have better conversations with yourself.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:53
Okay, let’s listen to what Angela Duckworth the best selling author of Grit has to say so, “fresh and riveting, chatter is a masterpiece, a landmark book that will change the way you think about human nature. Required reading for all.” So that’s a very strong endorsement. And I think that I think it’s really great. Now I just mentioned a fixed mindset, right? And I said that when we have negative chatter happening, that is the epitome of a fixed mindset.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:25
So let’s hear what Carol Dweck says she’s the best selling author of Mindset. She, of course, is the researcher who has brought us the concept of a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. So this is what she had to say.” I’ve demonstrated throughout my career how negative thoughts can spiral and undermine people’s success. In Chatter 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.” Okay, so there you go from Carol Dweck, we can see how this book can really help you to shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Because if you think about mindset, whether it’s growth or fixed, it is all a function of how we perceive ourselves in the world. And our self talk is a really big part of that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:22
Okay. One more endorsement from Daniel Pink, because I’m also a big fan of him. He’s the author of When, Drive and he’s got so many great books out there. So this is what he has to say, “Kross has written the definitive work on how to redirect our inner voices. 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.” Okay, so there we go. We have some great endorsements. And then let’s listen in to Ethan Kross PhD learn a little bit more about him. He is one of the world’s leading experts on controlling the conscious mind. And award winning professor in the University of Michigan’s top ring psychology department. And its Ross School of Business. He is the director of the emotion and self control laboratory, he has participated in policy discussions. So he’s had lots of media engagements, he completed his BA at the University of Pennsylvania and his PhD at Columbia University. This is his first book. So there you go, there’s a little introduction to the book and to the author. This is a very practical book, it’s full of research, but it doesn’t feel heavy. And one of the things that I really love about this book is that at the very end, there is a chapter that wraps it all up. And it’s I think it’s entitled tools. And it basically says, This is what you can focus on. So first, let’s take a look at understanding what chatter is.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:55
Okay, so the first concept that I want to share with you is this concept of introspection. Now, most of us are familiar with that. But let’s hear what he has to say about this as a researcher. So in the most basic sense, introspection simply means actively paying attention to one’s own thoughts, and feelings. Okay, so this is that curious observer, that ability to be aware of what’s happening, cognitively. So with your thoughts and what’s happening emotionally. So with your feelings, the ability to do this is what allows us to imagine, remember, reflect, and then use these reveries to problem solve, innovate and create. So one of the things that he says is that it is this ability to introspect that really distinguishes humans from other species. And so he talks about, in recent years, there’s been a big shift in the research where we’ve been able to look at introspection, and what it means and how, how we can harness introspection for good.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:05
Okay, as he talks about our default state, he really brings up a very interesting conundrum. And you know, first of all, so many of us are encouraged to live in the present. I know I’ve talked a lot about it’s something that I strive for. It is one of the core tenants of mindfulness to live in the present moment to not get tossed by the past or by the future. And so what Kross says is that while he appreciates the wisdom of this Maxim, he, he actually says that this well intentioned message runs counter to our biology.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:43
So boy, look at that we are running against our biology when we’re working on mindfulness. And that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy endeavor. But he said humans weren’t meant to weren’t made to hold fast to the present all the time. That’s just not what our brains evolved to do. And so then he talks about how there’s been recent research into brain processes that allow us to monitor behavior in real time. And that process has unlocked the hidden mechanics of the human mind. And so as they have done this research, they have discovered something remarkable. And that as humans, we spend 1/3 to one half of our waking life, not living in the present. Now, that’s probably not a big surprise to any of us. So he says that as naturally as we breathe, we decouple from the here and now. So from the present moment, and our brains transport us to past events, imagine scenarios and other internal musings, this tendency is so fundamental, it has a name, it’s known as the default state. So when you hear the default state I want you to hear about though I want you to think about is that it is your brain, transporting you to pass events, imagine scenarios and other internal musing. So whether you’re ruminating on the past, anticipating the future, maybe imagining or in dream or fantasy, right. And so it is the activity of our brain that automatically reverts to when it’s not otherwise engaged.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:20
So if you are not actively engaged in something, cognitively, your default state is to wander. And you know, that happens a lot, even if we’re in a room that we would imagine could hold our attention were wandering. So you’ve no doubt noticed your own mind wander as if of its own volition, when you were supposed to be focusing on a task, we are perpetually slipping away from the present into the parallel, nonlinear world of our minds, in voluntarily sucked back inside, on a minute to minute basis. In light of this, the expression, the life of the mind takes on new and added meaning much of our life is the mind. And so what happens when we slip away, when we aren’t focused? What happens is we talk to ourselves.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:11
So this is where we have the chatter. So two parts there, we talk to ourselves. And we listen to what we say. And this is the inner voice. This is that chatter in our head. And it’s not necessarily a problem that we have these conversations, but the content of our conversations, how these conversations unfold, can really make or break our happiness in life.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:43
And then as he introduces this topic, so lest you think this is really challenging work, Krause says that one of one of the great insights that he’s had in his career is that the tools necessary to really help us reduce chatter and harness our inner voice for good. He says, they’re not that hard to learn, we don’t really need to go looking for them. He says that they are often hidden in plain sight, waiting for us to put them to work. So the skills, the tools that we need to help ourselves are present in our mental habits, our quirky behaviors, our daily routines, as well as in the people, organizations and environments we interact with. And so his job, his mission with the book, is to show you these tools, right you have them, we all have them, but to show you the tools and explain how you can use them for good so that you can manage the conversations that you have with yourself.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:51
So now let’s jump right to the tools to help you manage your chatter. So of course, we want to, we want to reduce chatter and chatter is all about getting caught in the negative thoughts spirals, right? So we want to help you reduce your chatter so that you can think clearly and constructively. Because the voice in your head is there. It’s there for a reason. It’s not necessarily a problem. But what we want to cut down on is chatter so that actually the voice in your head can help you think clearly and constructively. And so if you’ll recall, cross tells us that the tools we have are actually right in front of us. And there are a lot of things that we do that are well intended, but we they might be undermining us and so I want to share some of the tools that he shares and just remind you that this is an eminently practical book. So if you have a ton of chatter, this would be a great book, for you to have, it’s an excellent resource, it’s one that you can go back to. And maybe you start by focusing on one or two of the tools. And then you know, see how how that goes for you in terms of getting traction. And then of course, you can always add more tools and some of these tools you might already be doing. So that’s always encouraging to see what you’re already doing to help yourself.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:27
Okay, so first of all, when he talks about these tools, he has them set aside in different categories, I’m not going to go over all the tools, because we don’t have time for that. But the first category includes tools you can implement on your own. So if we’re thinking about, let’s just jump right in and get going. One of the most important tools, and this really is a theme throughout the book is to first use distanced self talk. And so what this means is when we go through a challenging experience, we become emotionally overwhelmed, right, like an overwhelming experience tends to be very stressful, which really increases our physiological arousal, right. And it’s just, it’s overwhelming content. So it’s overwhelming. cognitively. It’s overwhelming emotionally, and it can be overwhelming physiologically, right. So given the stress response, and so one of the best techniques, one of the most effective texts and techniques is to distance yourself from the content. Because so and you know, I always use this language of step back, can you take a step back, that’s what I mean, when I talk about taking a step back, it is to distance yourself from the echo chamber of your own mind, because when you are dealing with a stressful situation, the tendency of your mind is to ruminate, right? So think about a top spinning, right? Do it does anyone know what a top visiting core, but a spinning top where it just continues spinning out of control. And so if you’re too close to that content, you’re going to spin yourself out of control, the anxiety is just going to continue to peak, and it’s going to be very difficult for you to help yourself. And so this use of distancing is, in essence, how we take a step back from the spinning top, so that you can adopt a broader, calmer and more objective perspective. And this is incredibly important, what I would say is, this is your most effective tool, because it’s something that you always have at your disposal. And think of think about this, right? When you have a loved one who’s going through a stressful experience, you can sometimes see that spinning happening in real time for them. And because it’s not happening to you in your body, right, you don’t have the emotions, you don’t have the stress hormones, you don’t have the ruminating thoughts, it’s easy for you as another person to be more objective, it’s easy for you to bring in perspective to be able to say, it’s gonna be okay. And so when we use self, it, sorry, when we use distance, self talk, we in essence, are doing that for our self. And so we want to create distance when you are experiencing chatter.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:20
So one of the things that you could do is you could and this is so interesting, the research is really compelling. When I first heard this research, I was like, that’s very curious. But as I thought about my own experience, I can recognize this. So what this means is, when you are trying to work through a difficult experience, use your name and the second person you to refer to yourself. So instead of saying I, I would say for example, Melissa, you’re having a hard time but it’s okay. So you’re talking to yourself, as a loving friend, you’re using your name or the second person you so this is what we know from the research doing so is linked with less activation in brain networks associated with rumination. So, practically speaking, what does that mean? You are going to spend less less rumination we don’t want to rumination, rumination is all the chatter and it also leads to improved performance. under stress, we like that. It also leads to wiser thinking, we love that and less negative emotion. So simply using self talk that is distance. So to call yourself by your name to refer to yourself in the second person, you can be very helpful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:42
A second tool that you can implement on your own. And this is what I recommend all the time for folks I work with is to imagine advising a friend. So think about the difficult situation you are in and then think about that situation happening for a loved friend. So You can imagine what you would say to a friend experiencing the same problem as you, by virtue of taking yourself out of the equation and considering the situation happening to a friend, that act alone brings perspective. And perspective is really important in these moments, because it helps you to stop spinning, it helps you to take that step back, which is what you need. Okay?
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:30
The other thing that we can do is you can broaden your perspective. And so when we think about chatter, when we think about stress, we get tunnel vision. That’s something I talk about all the time as well, we get tunnel vision, we can’t see the big picture, we are inundated by what’s happening right now. And so we always want to zoom out, we want to broaden our perspective, think about how the experience you’re worrying about compares with other adverse events you or others have endured. That can be very helpful not as a way of dismissing your experience, but to just put it in context. This is part of why I love history so much, I am totally a student of history. Because when I read history, it brings perspective to my own life. And that’s exactly what we want to do with this tool to be able to say, I am not alone in this. Other people have made it through this. You know, when I think about my days, being hard, and you know, managing work life balance, I often actually think about my mother, when she was a young mother, she had four little little kids, and ended up a single mother and had to find a way to provide for her family. She did an amazing job. And when I think about that, I’m like, wow, that was hard. That was really, really hard. And it’s not to say that I don’t have challenges as well. But that perspective helps me to be able to say I can do hard things, right. And maybe I can even learn from the experience of others, which is always a gift and helps us to cultivate gratitude. Another thing you can do to help yourself is you can reframe your experience as a challenge. Now, this is a technique that those with growth mindsets do all the time. They don’t see things as a problem. They see it as a challenge. They see it as exciting. One of the little kiddos in the research that Carol Dweck did, they were doing these complicated puzzles, and this little kiddo kind of hit his hands together and rub them. And he said, I love a big challenge. Now, that’s a growth mindset. And so when you can see things as seeing an experience as a challenge, it really quiets the chatter, because chatter is often triggered when we interpret a situation as a threat, right. And a threat is something we can’t manage. So if we label this as this is bad, this is disastrous, this is horrible, that chatter is going to kick up and be louder. And so you can remind yourself that you’ve been successful in similar situations in the past, you can use the distance self talk, and you can say, I love a new challenge. And then right, you can really lean into that and learn everything you can.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:24
Okay, and then you can also reinterpret your body’s chatter response. Now, I’ve talked about this before, when it comes to public speaking, right, you have maybe some, some nerves before you speak. And that’s totally appropriate. That’s part of the challenge response, which is a stress response. It’s a very appropriate response, because it’s your body gearing up and preparing to perform right to get on stage and say what you need to say. And so when you feel these stress responses in your body, you need to label it, you you add the frame and the meaning to that, because if your mind is left to its own devices, it will interpret that bodily response as a threat, as danger as something that is bad and to be avoided. And so when you when you feel maybe your pulse increase, you can say, I really care about this. I’m really excited about this, I really want to focus and make sure that I am aware for everything that’s happening, that is shifting and reinterpreting your body’s chatter, response and it can be really helpful so that those physiological responses don’t have to sabotage you. We don’t want that happening.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:49
Okay, the next thing that you can do to help yourself is you can normalize your experience. This is a hallmark of good therapy when people come into treatment When they’re going through a challenging experience, right, like whether you go to therapy or not, when you go through a challenging experience, you can feel so alone, you can feel like I’m the only one going through this. And often, if we have embarrassment, or we have shame, because of the challenge that we’re facing, and so then we go silent, we don’t reach out, we don’t get help. And that reinforces that feeling of being alone and being isolated. One of the great benefits of having a good friend to talk to having a community of support, having a good therapist or a coach is that as you share your experience, you have the opportunity to normalize your experience to say that, though your experience is right, like you’re having your unique experience, and we totally respect that you’re not alone. Others have faced this challenge as well. And that knowing that you’re not alone can be very helpful. Because again, you can say, others have gone through this. And I know I can to use the word you to refer to people in general, when you think and talk about negative experiences.
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:11
Okay, another tool that you can do to help yourself is engage in mental time travel. So I love this one. This brings perspective. So someone that I worked with shared this with me, and I think it’s an anonymous quote, I don’t know if there’s an attribution. I will look though, that as you consider a worry in the present moment, if in five years, this doesn’t matter that this worry doesn’t matter, then don’t spend more than five minutes on it right now. That is a way that you mentally time travel. And as you travel back, it brings in perspective. So recognizing in the future, this will be much less upsetting. I even think about experiences with my kiddos and, you know, like grades or assignments or whatever. And, you know, if I’m getting myself worked up, it’s very easy for me to, to say, you know what, in, in five years, maybe even three years, maybe even one year, we’ll be laughing about this right that some of our challenges, become our best stories. And to be able to say like, how important is this really, like, it’s really not that important. And so time traveling can help you with that. The last one that I am going to share in terms of what you can do to help yourself is you can write expressively. So journaling has been found to be very, very helpful. So when we think about helping you cope with a negative experience, the way that you do that makes a difference. So right about your deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding your negative experience. So right, whatever the challenge is, for 15 to 20 minutes a day for one to three consecutive days. Now in these first stages, you really want to let yourself go as you jot down your stream of thoughts. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling, you want to focus on your experience from the perspective of a narrator. This provides you with distance from the experience. So you kind of tell the story of what happened from the perspective of the narrator not necessarily your perspective. But what it does is it provides distance from the experience and it helps you to start to make sense of what you felt in in the situation and how you can write how you kind of work through that because you’ll notice that there’s a shift as you do that writing. And so journaling can be incredibly helpful. But the important thing to remember with journaling is the goal is to gain some distance, or some perspective, from the experience if you do a deep dive into that pain, and I’ve been so wronged and everyone is out to get me and I’m going to go eat worms, the journaling will likely be unhelpful. In fact, it can be undermining. And so with all of these tools to help yourself, the goal is to create some distance. Because again, when you are narrowed in to the pain of a situation, you lose perspective, you become overwhelmed, it’s hard to see a way out of that tunnel of pain. And so these tools are all designed to help you bring in perspective and distance yourself from the experience so that you can start to work through it. Alright, so those are the tools to help yourself.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:42
Okay, so the last thing that I want to share are tools that involve other people. Now, there are some great tools for how you can enlist help when you’re having a hard time and I would highly recommend those but what I want to finish with because I felt like this is really useful information is how you know what is helpful when someone comes to you in need, right. So you have a loved one or a colleague who has a whole lot of chatter happening in their head. So I want to share with you a few tools for providing chatter support. So this is you as a support person. So the first one is to address people’s emotional and cognitive needs. Now, he says that the mistake that many of us make, when someone comes to us upset is we over focus on their emotional experience, okay. And that might really surprise you. Because we talked about empathy, we talked about compassion. And he is not saying to disregard that. But what he is saying is you have to balance the emotional needs and the cognitive needs. Because if you dive right in with someone, on the emotions, on their pain, what’s happening, you’re getting lost in that pain tunnel with them, it actually reinforces more panic, it reinforces more distress in those moments, okay. So if you think about a friend, you know, caught in a hole, the last thing you want to do is jump down there with them, right, you want to get a rope and you want to help them out. And as you’re doing that, you want to express empathy and compassion, right? Like I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, let’s help you get out of there. And that is the focus on the cognitive needs. And so that i think that that is different counsel than a lot of people have received, we’re taught to focus on empathizing and compassion. But if you do that, you’re probably going to make the situation worse. And so we really want to balance empathy and compassion with the cognitive needs problem solving, that does not mean you need to be giving a bunch of advice. But it’s really looking at the specifics of the situation, often, what you can do is you can bring in perspective that is attending to the cognitive needs. So as a support person, you can bring in perspective, you can help the individual to distance from the situation, don’t dive deep with them into the emotional pain. And so that’s, I think that’s a really useful tool for all of us who, you know, obviously want to give good support to those we love.
Dr. Melissa Smith 37:35
The second tool that I am going to share with you is provide invisible support. So I like this one is kind of indirect. But you think about, you know, sometimes jumping in and problem solving or giving advice isn’t helpful, and it can backfire. Because people feel less capable, it kind of lowers their self efficacy. When that happens. It doesn’t kind of it does, according to the research, it lowers their sense of self efficacy and autonomy, which we don’t want to do. We want them to feel like they can problem solve. But so so instead of like running right in and giving them advice and problem solving with them, you can provide invisible support. So what does that look like? So you can provide practical support, like cleaning up the house, you can help broaden people’s perspectives indirectly by sharing experiences that maybe you heard about in the news, or that you came across work, you can have conversations, casual conversations that aren’t about your loved ones problem, but that can be helpful. And you don’t want to be sneaky about this, but providing invisible support.
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:50
So one of the examples that he uses is if in a marriage or relationship, one of the partners is studying for a big exam, there are lots of ways that the loved one could provide invisible support, so maybe they pick up a little bit more of the load around the house. Maybe they save big decisions until after that test is taken. And so there are many ways you can provide invisible support that don’t involve you trying to solve the problem or giving advice because right if we think about that example with the test taking there’s not much the other person can do. Maybe they can have the home quiet that sort of thing. And you know, I think about this when I did my MBA program, you know my guy friend really provided a ton of invisible support I I did see it so I like to think it wasn’t too invisible because I you know, obviously wanted to be grateful for that but he really picked up a lot of the load around the home and he already has done so much. We have pretty very, very balanced home life. In that regard, but right, he couldn’t, he couldn’t take my accounting exam for me, he couldn’t go and spend, you know, a 20 hour weekend at school, but he could make life easier at home. And that’s a really great way that we can provide support to others. I just want to share maybe one more in terms of what you can do to provide support, and that is to touch affectionately, but he adds about respectfully, right, like, obviously, don’t be touching someone if they don’t want you to. But we know that affectionate touch sets off oxytocin, which is part of the tend and befriend stress response. That is a healing response. oxytocin is something that is protective for so even though it’s a stress response, it’s very protective. And so affectionate touch, whether it’s an embrace holding someone’s hand, that can really reduce that chatter. I think it’s really awesome.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:06
So affectionate touch also unconsciously triggers the release of endorphins and other chemicals in the brain, right? So what what did I just say oxytocin, which helps to manage our stress as a stress response, but it helps us to move through the stress cycle. And so affectionate touch is very helpful. And think about your own experience. Sometimes you just need a hug. And the good news is you can also have yourself so I’ve talked about that in a previous episode.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:35
So there you go. There are some tools to help yourself, reduce the chatter in your mind and harness your inner voice for good. And also some tools to help you provide chatter, support for those you love. So again, the book that I reviewed today is Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters and How to Harness It. It’s by Ethan Kross, it just came out in 2021 is excellent. So if you have a lot of chatter happening in your head, I would strongly recommend this book so you can head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/chatter one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/chatter. Of course, I’m social. I’d love to connect with you on social media. I’m @dr.melissasmith on Instagram, and we’d love to hear what you think of the book and what tools you might be implementing. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai