Taming Mental Chatter: Proven Strategies to Silence Negativity

For the longest time I struggled with mental chatter. I still do at times, but not as much.

In the past, I would wake up in the morning with negative thoughts tumbling through my head. These ranged from something stupid I’d done as a teenager to imagining what could go wrong in the future. 

Often, my dreams would be full of these negative thoughts and images. That’s before I started practicing some of the strategies I’m going to share with you today. 

But before we talk about how to stop that chatter in your head, let’s discuss some definitions. 

What is mind chatter and where do these types of negative thoughts come from?

All of us have an ongoing mental dialogue. While some of these inner discussions are harmless, others can have serious, negative effects. 

For example, “Where did I leave my keys?” and “What should I eat for lunch?” help us focus.

“Why did I say that?” or “Why am I so inadequate?” can make us doubt ourselves and damage our self-worth. 

There are many labels for mind chatter. For me, the top choice is the Buddhist expression “monkey mind“.

Buddhists call it that because it compares the brain to a tree filled with drunken monkeys, screaming and hopping around in a tree.  They are always moving in an agitated way. 

Although the label is meant to be humorous, there is nothing amusing about this negative chatter in your head. This is particularly true when the voice in your head focuses on the pitfalls of life.  On top of being disturbing, this constant stream of negative thinking can have long-term detrimental mental and physical health consequences.

What can you do to stop the negative chatter?

It’s important that you recognize that mental noise is more intense now than ever. Part of this comes from your mind is constantly being bombarded with outside stimulation.

Your mobile devices are constantly vying for your attention. Your requirement to remain constantly connected makes it impossible for your thought processes to get a break.

To help tame your mental chatter, you need to gain control over how you interact with them. Put a “no device time” slot in your daily schedule. During this time, stay unplugged from all your electronic devices for at least a half hour or so.

In addition to untethering, there are learnable skills which can help you quiet your negative mental chatter. These skills will help you pull your attention back to the present and focus your thoughts and feelings on the positive things in your life.

5 Ways to Stop Negative Thoughts

1. Accept that the human mind is constantly making noise.

Your brain generates inner chatter the same way those monkeys jump from tree limb to tree limb. Just like monkeys jump around in trees, your brain flits from one thought to another.

Experts speculate that the human mind muses on between 60,000 and 80,000 ideas each day. Breaking this down to per hour, you’re thinking roughly 2500 to 3,300 thoughts every 60 minutes!

It’s incredible how much talking in your head goes on!

Your brain is always working. This will happen,

You can train your brain to be less noisy, but as long as you’re alive, there’s no way to completely stop thinking.

Even though you may not realize it, your brain is always talking to you. Accept it. That’s how brains work.

This doesn’t mean you have to allow this inner voice to control you. It only means that self-talk is normal.

2. Become a neuroscientist. 

I’m not saying you need to get an advanced science degree. I am saying you should learn to think like a brain scientist.

Scientists analyze things. This is what you should strive to do with your self-talk. Your brain will always produce thoughts regardless of the circumstances.

Take a step back from these thoughts and inspect them like an expert would. You don’t have to interact with those thoughts or let them control your thinking. Instead, examine them like a scientist.

Now, as you observe disruptive thoughts trying to take over your attention, recognize them, be grateful for them and then let them go.

3. Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness helps you focus on what you are doing in the present moment. This type of mental exercise helps show you just how busy your mind can be.

As you practice mindfulness you pay attention to your thoughts. This helps you recognize when negative emotions are taking over. Only after acknowledging they exist can you get rid of unhelpful thoughts.

Devote some time every day to this practice. It will help you better control your thinking. 

4. Listen to what your chatter is like and don’t judge what it’s saying

Listening to your inner monologue is important because it may be your subconscious trying to send you a message that you need to take seriously. When you hear faint self-chatter, ask yourself, “Is this something I should pay attention to?”

Sometimes it just serves as a reminder of tasks that need to be done. These could be a task you need to finish on a project or picking up milk from the grocery store. If so, you can eliminate the distraction by creating a reminder or alarm on your cell phone.

 As you reflect on your thoughts, resist evaluating. For example, the weather is hot. Rather than judging the temperature as positive or negative, simply recognize that it is hot.

As you practice this, you’ll find you judge the people you meet, places you go, things you see, and situations you encounter less. Now, rather than reacting when something suddenly comes up, you’ll be able to better see it as what it is, nothing to concern yourself with. 

 A fringe benefit is that as you become less critical, you’ll be less concerned about what others think about you. An added bonus is that as you judge less, you’ll worry less about others judging you.

5. Use a journal to keep track of your thoughts. 

 Keeping a journal is a straightforward way of keeping track of what is going on in your life.

If you struggle with negative thoughts, put them on paper. Set aside 10-20 minutes each day to jot down any mental events that come up that day. You will be astounded at how many constantly reappear.

By taking the time to examine them, you give yourself an opportunity to make adjustments to them. Over time, you can replace your negative thoughts with positive affirmations.

You can put a stop to negative chatter.

Your brain is constantly muttering to you, and it never stops. So, if you find your mind chattering, don’t be alarmed. It means you have a normal brain. 

But don’t let the chatter take over your life.

While most of your mind chatter is nothing but random noise, continuous negative thinking can cause problems. Reducing these pessimistic thoughts will help you live a happier, more fulfilling life.

If you find that negative thinking is taking hold, recognize it for what it is and let it go. This will help you feel better about yourself and the world around you.   

If mind chatter has been holding you back, use what you’ve found in this article to let go of the past and step into the present. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also get more done in less time.

Now you’ll have more time for the important people and things in your life.

Start today. A brighter future awaits!

Are you struggling with the mental chatter? Do you find it hard to stay focused and present in the moment? Modern Mindfulness: A Beginner’s guide on how to Find Peace and Happiness in a Busy World has got you covered! This guide provides sustainable methods that can help you to manage stressful situations, reduce the noise of distracting thoughts, and focus on the positives in life. Pick up your copy on Amazon today and find your way back to joy!

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