Thursday, December 9, 2021

"Zoom Out" says Article

I'm caught in a trap of my own doing.  I'm the sort of person who is endlessly engaged in self-chat.  Dialogue that seems to spiral out of control.  I can't seem to stop myself from, well, talking with myself.  And it's mostly not good news.

That's when an article in review of a book entitled "Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It," caught my attention.  According to article, there's a few tips that can help to "zoom out" so as not to focus "narrowly" on ourselves.

First, "add order" to your life.  If caught in a tangle of self-doubt and negative talk, take a moment to tidy up your workspace or your home, which helps to create the "sense that your future is controllable."  Id.

Second, don't fret if you engage in rituals to help calm your self-talk.  Rituals, according to the article, so long as they aren't used as in replacement of preparation, help to "settle the mind and increase confidence." Id.

Third, surround yourself with "greenery." "The mechanism by which nature replenishes our mental reserves is unclear, but studies show that viewing lush landscapes, walking in the woods or simply watching nature videos can reduce rumination, improve working memory and maybe protect health." Id.

Fourth, time travel mentally.  Try to picture where you'll be in a few years from now and the present might just not take on as much power in our lives.  "Perhaps the simplest distancing hack is to switch self-talk pronouns from first-person (I) to second- or third-person (you or he/she/they). In studies, distancing has increased academic motivation and reduced unnecessary worry."  Id.

Fifth, take on the view of the proverbial "fly on the wall," as an outsider, which allows us to distance ourselves from the self-talk and doubts that so often seem to trip us up and prevent us from seeing past the immediate.

Lastly, the article ends with a sort-of-surprising counterintuitive note.  Apparently, venting to others is not necessarily that helpful.  Perhaps a little dose but it seems that too much venting with others leads to just a big circle of venting.  Lots of hot air, I suppose.  I've been there before!

I haven't had a chance to read the book but based on the article's review, it sounds like this book might not just help a few of us but many of our students too, who are often wondering where they fit into the grand scheme of lawyering.  Here's the link for more information: Huston, M., "Chatter Review" Using Our Inside Voices, WSJ (Dec. 6, 2021). (reviewing Kross, Ethan, Ph.D., "Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It").  (Scott Johns).


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