NATIONAL BESTSELLER • An award-winning psychologist reveals the hidden power of our inner voice and shows how to harness it to combat anxiety, improve physical and mental health, and deepen our relationships with others.
LONGLISTED FOR THE PORCHLIGHT BUSINESS BOOK AWARD • “A masterpiece.”—Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit • Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel H. Pink’s Next Big Idea Club Winter 2021 Winning Selection
One of the best new books of the year—The Washington Post, BBC, USA Today, CNN Underscored, Shape, Behavioral Scientist, PopSugar • Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Shelf Awareness starred reviews
Tell a stranger that you talk to yourself, and you’re likely to get written off as eccentric. But the truth is that we all have a voice in our head. When we talk to ourselves, we often hope to tap into our inner coach but find our inner critic instead. When we’re facing a tough task, our inner coach can buoy us up: Focus—you can do this. But, just as often, our inner critic sinks us entirely: I’m going to fail. They’ll all laugh at me. What’s the use?
In Chatter, acclaimed psychologist Ethan Kross explores the silent conversations we have with ourselves. Interweaving groundbreaking behavioral and brain research from his own lab with real-world case studies—from a pitcher who forgets how to pitch, to a Harvard undergrad negotiating her double life as a spy—Kross explains how these conversations shape our lives, work, and relationships. He warns that giving in to negative and disorienting self-talk—what he calls “chatter”—can tank our health, sink our moods, strain our social connections, and cause us to fold under pressure.
But the good news is that we’re already equipped with the tools we need to make our inner voice work in our favor. These tools are often hidden in plain sight—in the words we use to think about ourselves, the technologies we embrace, the diaries we keep in our drawers, the conversations we have with our loved ones, and the cultures we create in our schools and workplaces.
Brilliantly argued, expertly researched, and filled with compelling stories, Chatter gives us the power to change the most important conversation we have each day: the one we have with ourselves.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Ever wonder how baseball players can psych themselves out in the final inning or a trained actor can feel their mind go blank as they step onto the stage? In this fascinating book, psychologist Ethan Kross explores the way we talk to ourselves inside the privacy of our own minds and the potentially staggering outcomes of that chatter. Using scientific research and relatable real-world examples, Kross explains how the things we say to ourselves can have a measurable impact on our lives—and he provides advice for guiding that internal conversation to make sure the impact is positive. For example, Kross explains how to identify negative self-talk when it happens, so that we can consciously steer our mind back in the right direction. His guidance on learning to distance yourself from your own thoughts (remember, feelings aren’t facts) is incredibly empowering, plus it feels practical and attainable. Chatter isn’t just thought-provoking—it’s thought-transforming.
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." He begins with an anecdote from 2011: after Kross received a threatening letter, he spent sleepless nights armed with a baseball bat to protect his family and irrationally blamed himself for causing the situation. Kross eventually calmed down, but his experience inspired the writing of this book in order to share his findings on how to "keep silent, internal conversations from harming mental health." Using other anecdotes, such as that of Rick Ankiel, whose pitching career with the St. Louis Cardinals was derailed by overwhelming anxiety, Kross walks readers through a wide variety of internal conversations, such as helpful "linked" thought patterns that focus on a goal versus "unlinked" negative thought spirals. Kross profiles LeBron James, Fred Rogers, and Malala Yousafzai, among others, and articulates their strategies for dealing with negative self-talk, such as using rituals (like mantras or daily moments of reflection) to reduce harmful mental chatter. Kross also provides mind-calming tips, such as imagining one's self-talk as advising a friend and reframing one's experience as a challenge. Readers dealing with issues of self-talk would do well to pick up Kross's stimulating foray into popular psychology.
Im excited to see how I can use these tools on my everyday life. Im also excited to share this knowledge with other people who I know can benefit because although many people are aware of how destructive out inner voice can be, many people dont know conscious ways to alleviate and sooth themselves in a growth oriented way. I’m sure if we practice it enough and internalize this, we can become a lot more.
We’ve needed this book. I’m 59 years old. I needed this book when I was twelve. Pass it along.