Mind Over Matter: What To Do About Mind Chatter

During my quiet, contemplative states, I laugh at losing my temper at those external sounds (bird’s squawking, gardener’s equipment, car’s honking, children’s laughter, etc) which I blame for pulling me out of my meditation. More often than not it’s my own mind chatter that’s intrusive. However, shushing it or willing it to “Shut up!” is akin to telling myself not to think about pink elephants.

Featured image by Keoni Cabral/CC 2.0

The Buddhists call it “Monkey Mind.” Many people call it “Mental Noise” or “Internal Monologues.” I refer to it as “My Default Talk Show” because it’s constantly broadcasting in my head. Whatever you term it, it’s thought to be very important to be able to control it, tame it, or turn it off at will.

But should you? I’m going to suggest there’s another approach that might be more beneficial – – a little organization!

Here are some easy tips for dealing with the endless “Self Talk,” a baffling phenomenon that’s been with us since the beginning of humankind.

Mindful, Mind chatter

Mindful, Mind chatter

Image by dee & tula monstah/CC 2.0

Welcome it. 

Don’t fight it any longer. It’s belongs both to you and with you, so why not give it a name and a few hospitable deep breaths?

Direct it. 

Harness it for short intervals and use its power for positive affirmations, visualizations or free-associations for creative goals.

Kindness Counts.

Yes, it’s a permanent resident inside your head, but it can still be taught some basic house rules. “Beating yourself up” should not be tolerated. If the ongoing prattle you hear is blaming, sneering, scoffing, judging, laughing,(sarcastically or rudely!) or lecturing endlessly, it’s time to consciously retrain “the voice” to have more tolerance.

New Vocabulary.

If there’s going to be endless droning, there needs to be some word replacement substitutions. Teach it to say “Congratulations!” more often. Try the words “appreciate” and “value” and “cherish.”

Schedule it.

Do you have a Worrier in there? Designate a precise time each day for that fretful voice to come out and do its thing. In fact, it absolutely MUST agonize incessantly for twenty minutes straight. Little by little you will train the worried babble to retreat until its specific appointment time. You can do the same thing with the Critical Voice.

Acknowledge the variety. 

Become acquainted with all the other aspects of your internal voices that are called “Archetypes.” Even the author of Fifty Shades of Grey gave her protagonist an “Inner Goddess” which was the sexual, erotic part of her. This is vastly different from having a multiple personality or dissociative identity disorder, where the inner selves are deeply fragmented and none of the parts are aware of the other’s existence.

Classify it. 

Once you know that your mind chatter can fall into different categories, you can begin to sort them out. Here are just a few possibilities. The Parent, The Child, The Protector, The Leader, The Rebel, The Manipulator, The Hero, The Joker, The Old Soul, The Traditionalist, The Victim, The Logician, The Boss, The Lover, The Nurturer, The Beach Bum, The Slob, The Perfectionist. The Mischief-Maker, The Creator, etc. There’s unlimited choices and I’m sure you can think of many of your own.

By Request. 

Just like a DJ plays a particular song, you can invite a certain facet of this Brain Babble to move to the forefront in your mind when it would benefit you the most. For example, when you’re at work, it may serve you well to call on The Perfectionist or The Leader to steer your ongoing inner monologue.

Enjoy it.

Don’t forget that this “voice” is a trailblazer to all your creativity. Call up your inner Brainstormer and be sure to jot down notes for deciphering later. Let it amuse, intrigue, and mystify you. Many people would pay a lot of money for tickets to a show like this and you’re getting admission completely free of charge!

Update July 2015: We have just released free email courses on being more mindful and productive, sleeping better, and reducing anxiety. Check them out at www.spire.io/courses.

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Anxiety, Body & Mind


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