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On this episode of the Sonya Looney Show, Ethan Kross, one of the world’s leading experts on controlling the conscious mind, best-selling author and a professor in the University of Michigan’s Psychology Department and Ross School of Business, talks self-talk and his book, Chatter. 

Kross studies how the conversations people have with themselves impact their health, performance, decisions and relationships. In 2008, he founded the Emotion & Self Control Laboratory at the University of Michigan. 

As a leading expert in this field, Kross has been published in many peer-reviewed journals and has been interviewed on several major news shows, including CBS Evening News, Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper Full Circle, and NPR’s Morning Edition. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and more.

In this episode, you’ll hear more about his lab, emotion, mindfulness, and problem solving. You’ll also learn more about his book Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters and How to Harness It, which interweaves groundbreaking behavioral and brain research with real-world examples to explain how conversations we have with ourselves shape our lives, and gives us the power to shape them.

“One thing you can do is called distant self talk. Try to coach yourself through a problem like you would give advice to a friend and actually use your own name and the second person pronoun “you” to do that… The idea here is that we know it’s much easier to give advice to other people than it is to take our own advice. It’s always shocking to me when I hear about the kinds of things people think to themselves in the first person… We would never say those things to our friends who come to us for advice. A lot of people I talk to about these issues, not only do they tell me they’d never say that to a friend, sometimes they don’t even feel comfortable verbalizing what they say to themself. They’re embarrassed to reveal the dark things that they think. So the idea here is that we can use language to help shift our perspective, to help us think about ourselves and advise ourselves like we’re a coach to someone else.”

Ethan Kross

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Key Takeaways

  • Emotion & Self Control Laboratory
  • Self-control vs. willpower
    • What is an emotion?
    • Creating physical distance
  • Where mindfulness doesn’t work and reframing is better
  • Problem solving vs. overthinking
  • Negative self-talk vs. chatter
  • Sleep and chatter




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