Mental Chatter: Mind Over Chatter
I know you're wondering, "what is mental chatter?" Mental chatter is all of the noise that is created in our minds that seems to overpower us and before we know it, the noise becomes prominent in our minds. Not only is it noisy, but it's distracting and at times, destructive and can leave us feeling debilitating and hopeless. These thoughts can consist of, "I'm not good enough;" "I might as well quit;" "I don't have what it takes to start over." Or it could be thoughts of "I can't." "Why me?" "Things will never change." Does any of this sound familiar? Mental chatter is all of those thoughts, phrases, and sometimes images, that cloud our mind and does not allow us to function properly and eventually becomes our primary way of thinking. It becomes the new lens or perspective in which we view the world.
Our minds are a very powerful tool. It is so creative and clever that it enables us to take a thought and create a whole story and bring it to life. We become the producers and directors of our story, but unfortunately the story that we often create is a drama or horror story that either keeps us stuck or pushes us into a bad place. But, I often say, just like we can think ourselves into a place of hopelessness, depression or anxiety, we can think ourselves out! We have the power over our minds whether we believe it or not! Yes, our thoughts are automatic and I know that you are saying, "Kim, I can't control a thought from coming into my mind." Ok, but you can shut that thought off or change the narrative of the story as soon as it is created in your mind. The same way that you can give that negative thought life is the same way in which you can kill that negative thought and give life to thoughts that empower and uplift us.
I'm sure you're thinking, "How do we overcome this?" "How do we stop the noise?" We do this by taking back our thoughts and putting our "Mind Over the Chatter!" What does this mean exactly? It means to be mindful of our thoughts and to put clarity and rationale over the chatter that robs us of the ability to see things clearly.
Here are 3 key steps to taking back our thoughts:
1. Stop the negative thoughts in its tracks. Once a negative thought enters your mind, stop it immediately. Throw the thought away and replace it with a more rational or positive thought. For example, you may think, "Now that I have been fired from my job I will never be able to bounce back from this." If that thought sits for too long, it can cause you to develop depressive symptoms and stay stuck in this bad place. However, if you stop the thought immediately and replace the thought with, "This is not the end for me. I just need to regroup and start looking for a better job." Those two different perspectives make the difference between staying stuck or moving forward.
2. Take a step back and look at the thought. This is for everyone that finds it too difficult to do the thought stopping technique. This enables you to identify that the thought is there, but to also step back from the thought rather than grabbing hold of the thought. When we do this, we no longer feel connected to the thought in the same way and are able to evaluate where the thought may have come from, what is happening to you or around you to support or negate the thought, and to not only change the thought, but also change your perspective of the situation. This is very powerful because you are no longer aligning with the negative thoughts and they become less powerful.
3. Write down your thoughts and identify your negative thought patterns. Journaling is a key component to taking back control of your mind because there is power in reading our thoughts. It's one thing to think a negative thought and let it sit there. It's another to look at it in writing because we now we have to own it. Journaling our thoughts allows us to truly see inside our minds and connect our thoughts to our behaviors. We start to see why we do some of the things that we do because our thoughts influence and determine our behaviors. You will be surprised how reading so much negativity will inadvertently cause you to change your thinking and your behavior.
Remember, you are what you think! You can think yourself in, therefore you can think yourself out!