It happens to the best of us: mind chatter, mental noise, mental chatter … whatever name you give it, you’ve undoubtedly experienced it.
Maybe it happens just before you fall asleep at night, and you just can’t turn off your mind. You’re running through your to-do list for tomorrow, or going over and over a conversation you had with a client.
Maybe you’re so busy worrying over a looming deadline or a big project that you can’t actually get anything done! Anxiety sets in, and you’re stuck.
Whatever it is, you know this: you want it – that incessant mind chatter – to stop!
All you want is peace of mind, right?
The bad news here is that mind chatter happens. As entrepreneurs, we’re busy. We’re busy with work, family obligations, and the normal day-to-day life “stuff” that has to get done. There’s a lot to think about, a lot to worry about … and huge potential for mental noise.
You see, your mind chatter, or mental noise, is actually a sneaky version of your inner critic (or, as my friends Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo call it, your Inner Mean Girl). It is there, looming in the dark, waiting for the right moment to step out of the shadows and show its scary face.
It doesn’t come right out and talk about your shortcomings; rather, it hints at them, making snide comments like:
- “There’s no way you can get that all done tomorrow.”
- “You’re probably going to forget something really important.”
- “You really messed up that conversation with that client.”
- “You know that project you’re working on? The client’s going to hate it, if you get it done at all.”
The good news is that you CAN put the kibosh on your inner critic. You can stop mind chatter in its tracks, and give yourself the peace of mind you so desperately want.
In other words, your peace of mind doesn’t have to be determined by your inner critic.
Today, I’m sharing three tips to stop mind chatter whenever it rears its ugly head. I’ll start with a quick, short-term fix, and move on to longer-term – and possibly even permanent – solutions.
Tip One: Flip Those Negative Thoughts into Positive Self-Talk.
When mind chatter shows up, quickly flip it around and replace the thought with self-soothing, positive self-talk that contradicts the negative chatter.
You wake up in the middle of the night, and immediately, your to-do list for tomorrow pops into your mind. It’s a doozy, and with the meetings and tasks you’ve scheduled, you’re not sure you can get everything done. But you also have this sense that you have to.
Before this mental chatter runs off with your peace of mind, stop it in its tracks. Some people say, aloud, “Stop!” or “Cancel,” and some people use these words silently. The key is to create a mental break in the pattern of mind chatter.
Then, turn those statements around into positive self-talk or affirmations (try saying them out loud, too!):
- “I can do this. I WILL do this. I’ve got this.”
- “I am calm.”
- “I am capable.”
- “I am checking these items off my to-do list so quickly!”
- “I can solve any problem.”
As I mentioned above, this is a short-term solution. It will stop mind chatter in the moment, but it doesn’t necessarily address the underlying cause of the mental noise.
So let’s talk about another tip that’s designed to help you remove the fear from the situation.
Tip Two: Play out the Scenario until It Reaches a Silly Conclusion.
This exercise is one I shared in my book, Love-Based Online Marketing. It comes from my friend Therese Skelly, who’s an expert at identifying your core message and releasing the blocks that keep you from success, so you can make the difference you’re here to make.
When your inner critic steps in, it’s often in the form of fear. Back to that middle-of-the-night to-do list: it’s keeping you awake because you’re afraid of not getting it done. What does that really boil down to? Maybe it’s a fear of failure or a fear of letting someone down.
So once you’ve identified the specific fear related to your mental noise or mind chatter, ask yourself a series of questions about what that will look like.
Let’s walk through an example with the assumption that you’re afraid that you’ll let your significant other down if you don’t get to the store so you can buy food to cook dinner tomorrow.
Q: What are you afraid is going to happen if you don’t make it to the grocery store?
A: My wife will be disappointed in me.
Q: So, what’s the worst that will happen if she’s disappointed in you?
A: It means that I’ve let her down.
Q: So what is the worst that can happen if she feels like you let her down?
A: Then she won’t love me anymore.
Q: And what’s the worst that will happen if she doesn’t love you anymore?
A: Then we’ll have to get a divorce.
Q: And what is the worst that will happen if you get a divorce?
A: I’ll be alone and miserable for the rest of my life.
You see how this goes. You can keep going and going until you reach a conclusion … all because you ran out of time to get to the grocery store.
Here’s the thing: we know this isn’t going to happen. Your spouse won’t divorce you because you ran out of time to get to the grocery store.
For some people, the sheer act of going through this exercise allows them to see how baseless their fear is, which allows them to start moving past it.
This is an immediate and long-term solution. Not only does it stop the mind chatter while it’s happening, but it also helps you identify the root cause of your mind chatter and move past the fear. It can apply to any situation where fear shows up!
Tip Three: Stop the Story in Your Head and Breathe into the Emotions.
When you fall victim to mind chatter, you can quickly nip it in the bud if you stop the story in your head (you may want to use actual words here, like, “Stop,” or, “Cancel,” like I recommended in the first tip) and just feel the emotions you’re feeling.
This exercise helps break the emotional connection of the mind chatter.
For example, if you’re experiencing fear of letting your spouse down, or fear of failure, taking a moment to breathe into that fear can actually help you move past it.
Your fear may stem from some past trauma or other pent-up negative emotions you haven’t yet dealt with. But once you feel into, and breathe into, those emotions, you can begin to resolve them.
At first, mind chatter may continue to pop up when you face an event that triggers that old trauma or emotion, but over time, as you continue to feel and breathe into that emotion, it’s possible that the mind chatter will fade away.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to be a victim to mind chatter.
You can control your thoughts to achieve the levels of peace of mind you want and deserve.
If you’re tired of falling victim to your mind chatter, I’d love for you to try some of these tips. And let me know how they work for you in the comments below!