cover image Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It

Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It

Ethan Kross. Crown, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-57523-8

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. (Jan.)