Mental chatter is the constant voice nearly everyone has going on in their heads. You know the one. The one that tells you that the mistake you just made means you don’t have what it takes. It could also be the one that worries about what might happen to your daughter in the future if she doesn’t pick up her math grade. Left unchecked, this constant barrage of self-talk can leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. How can you turn down your mental chatter? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
The Problem with Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can be like an unruly office mate that comes around at the worst times and then won’t leave you alone. The unnecessary noise it generates can seem to be endless.
Let’s face it, at best, this mental chatter is distracting. At worst, it can entirely undermine your confidence and optimism.
While no one can turn off negative self-talk completely, there are some things you can do to turn down your mental chatter so you can get more done and live a calmer life.
Techniques You Can Use to Turn Down Your Mental Chatter
Let’s take a look at some simple things you can use to reduce the volume of your negative self-talk.
1. Try using 5-4-3-2-1.
A simple exercise to try when the noise in your head won’t stop is 5-4-3-2-1. The purpose of this exercise is to get you out of your head and focusing on your environment.
- Scan your environment and describe five things you see.
For example: “I see a desk. It is made of wood and has some kind of plastic desktop. It has a computer on it. There are papers on the desk beside the computer. There is a pen next to the papers.”
While it’s easy to find five things, the remainder of this exercise can be a little more challenging.
- Describe four things you hear.
“I hear a car driving in the parking lot. There is an airplane flying overhead. I hear a siren from a fire truck. I hear a dog howling at the siren.”
As you listen to the sounds, really focus your attention on the noise they make and fully experience them.
- Describe three things you feel.
Maybe you feel the cool breeze of the air conditioning blowing on your head. It could be the firm chair underneath you. Maybe it’s the pain in your knee.
- Describe two things you smell.
Maybe you smell the cologne of the office mate that came by a few minutes ago. It could be the conditioner in your hair. Often you will have to really concentrate to come up with two smells.
- Say one thing you like about yourself.
Maybe it’s something as simple as, “I like how disciplined I am to be able to complete this exercise.”
Here’s the point. By the time you’ve finished all five parts of this exercise, your focus will be on what you are doing in the present moment. You have successfully turned down the mental chatter in your head.
2. Don’t engage with your mental chatter.
When your brain makes noise, as it always does, just try ignoring it. If it continues, tell yourself, “Cancel, cancel” and let the nonsense in your head slip away.
3. Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation is all about dealing with mental noise. What you’re doing is paying attention to what you’re doing, right now. For example, paying attention to your breathing. As you practice, you’ll find you are better able to center your attention. Spend some time practicing mindfulness meditation daily to turn down your mental chatter.
4. Write down what your mental chatter is telling you.
In Mindful Mastery, you can find the 5 R process, which is a five-step process that deals directly with negative self-talk. The second step in this process is to Record what your thoughts are telling you in a journal. You do this as soon as the thought pops into your head. Then, at the end of the day, take a few minutes to examine these thoughts and analyze them. What you’ll find is they are usually not even close to being true.
5. Use positive affirmations.
Habitually using positive affirmations will definitely improve your self-talk. They do this by crowding out the negative noise. To turn down your mental chatter, when the noise starts, use an affirmation to keep your mind occupied on thoughts that you want.
The best way to use affirmations is to have a list ready to go. Then, when the chatter starts, pick one and use it.
6. Use a mantra.
A mantra is similar to an affirmation. It is something that you repeat to yourself over and over again. Your mantra could be a meaningless sound or you can choose something more significant.
What you’re doing is drowning out the noise.
- Listen to music that helps you focus.
Background music can help keep the internal voices at bay. Just be sure that it’s not so distracting that you can’t concentrate on whatever it is that you’re doing. Experiment with different genres to see what might work best for you.
You Can Turn Down Your Mental Chatter
Your mind constantly does what it was designed to do, create thoughts. While you don’t want to stop thinking, you do want to know how to turn down your negative mental chatter. Not only does it help you feel calmer it also helps you stay focused. This helps you accomplish more in less time.
As you’ve found, there are solutions you can employ to reduce the noise. You don’t have to let your mind continue to constantly create negative disempowering thoughts. Practice these methods to reduce or prevent an overabundance of thoughts that don’t do anything for you. You can turn down your mental chatter and take back control of your mind’s output.
Ready to reduce your stress and live a life that actually feels good? Grab your copy of Modern Mindfulness and start quieting the mental noise that’s interfering with your happiness. Start finding more peace, clarity, and joy today!