Turning off the chatterbox

Most of us have a little voice in our heads.  The frequency with which is fills our ear is different from person to person. But for many people it is a relentless tide we’ll call the chatterbox.

Maybe that voice is just a running commentary of what’s going around us. Often, however, it is whispering (or shouting!) negative thoughts in our ear. We feel exhausted from hearing that chatter and yet we don’t know how to turn it off. It is possible to disrupt the chatterbox!

The first step is always awareness. Become aware of the voice. Notice when it is having a negative impact.  Notice when your thoughts are all becoming negative ones. Once you realize there is negative chatter in your head, there are a few ways you can help get rid of it. Visualization is a powerful tool you can use in a few ways to cut the chatter.

Are you thinking incessantly about something? Maybe you are trying to resolve a problem that isn’t ready to be solved. Maybe you are so angry it is better to calm down before going further. In this scenario, the time is not right to focus on this. Picture yourself in front of a dresser. Open one of the drawers. Mentally picture yourself putting your thoughts away, as you would fold up and store a towel. Decide that you will come back and open the drawer at another time, when you are ready.

Perhaps you have a situation beyond your control which is worrying you to distraction. You’ve done what you can, and you need to let it go. This time, picture yourself on the bank of a river.  At the shore is a canoe.  Place your problem in the canoe and push it off.  You continue to stroll down the riverside. You can see the boat flowing down the river, but you are no longer attached to it in any way.

The tool I use the most often is the “clicker” or the remote control. Thoughts barge in, unwanted, and they can sometimes persist. Like a bad advertisement, a crappy show, or a song which you just hate, you control what you are watching. Use the remote control to change the channel. Feel free to pause on a channel or two before you settle in to a new line of thought. I grew up with a Walkman which was first a tape player, then a CD player and ultimately, I had MP3 players before I got my iPhone.  But I have always had a “button” I could push to change the song. That is the image I use which helps me to discard unwanted thoughts.

These tools have helped me time and again to stop obsessing about something or to turn off the chatter that is making me feel bad. They are, however, a temporary stop gap. We often have established patterns of negative thinking. Recognizing negative thought patterns is the next step to taking control.  In the meantime, I hope these tricks can provide you with some relief from your chatterbox!