Nathan Tanner

Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It (Book Notes)

I recently finished reading the book Chatter, an excellent book on the power of positive and negative self talk. This topic is very relevant as much of my time spent with clients is helping them identify and overcome limiting beliefs. They want to break free from stories that have hold them back and no longer serve them. They need help moving forward.

Here are my two biggest lessons from the book: the power of journaling and using distance self-talk.

The Power of Journaling

Chatter author Ethan Kross writes:

I’ve seen the power of journaling in my life and the lives of others. For example, my wife did a study abroad in Israel for four of the six months we were engaged. This period was really hard on me. Due to the time difference, there was never a good time for us to speak. And when we could speak, our time was limited as there was one phone for her classmates to share.

To say I didn’t handle this period well is an understatement. I’ll spare the details, but as the weeks went by, I grew anxious and depressed. I knew this was an incredible opportunity for her, but I started to resent her for being gone. I knew that if I didn’t pull myself together, I risked permanent damage to our relationship.

After discussing this with my dad, he invited me to journal. He told me that if I wrote down everything I was experiencing, every single day, I’d find the strength and peace I needed to get through this period. It worked. Journaling gave me a place to pour all my feelings, which allowed me to put a halt to the constant replay. Journaling helped me self-regulate and see things more clearly.

When my clients are experiencing persistent negative feelings, I invite them to journal. They’ve seen similar benefits.

Using Distance Self-Talk

This was a new lesson for me. (Note that the author defines chatter as negative self-talk.)

I love that Kross invites us to imagine what we might say to a friend experiencing the same challenge. I’ve found this approach effective with clients as we’re often harder on ourselves than those we care about, and it reframes the problem to be more solvable.

Overall, I thought Chatter was a great book that explores a topic we experience all the time but don’t talk about enough.