Chatter Book Summary - Chatter Book explained in key points
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Chatter summary

Ethan Kross

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

4.5 (383 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

Chatter by Ethan Kross explores the power of self-talk and how it can impact our thoughts, emotions, and behavior. The book offers practical tools and techniques for managing our inner voice to improve our mental and emotional wellbeing.

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    Chatter
    Summary of 7 key ideas

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    Humans developed an inner voice so we could evaluate our past and prepare for the future.

    Let’s admit it: we all talk to ourselves. While that might not be a shocking thing to do, it is shocking just how fast we do it. One study published in 1990 analyzed people’s rate of inner speech and clocked it at roughly four thousand words per minute. To say those same words out loud would take close to an hour!

    Our inner voices have been annoying humans for a long time; both the early Christian mystics and Chinese Buddhists were frustrated by their inner voices’ ability to incessantly interrupt their meditation. It’s also interesting to note that people who stutter out loud say their inner voices speak clearly. And deaf people report using sign language to speak to themselves.

    Clearly, our inner voices are an inherent part of our minds. But why? According to the rules of natural selection, introspection must come with an evolutionary advantage.

    The key message here is: Humans developed an inner voice so we could evaluate our past and prepare for the future.

    Unlike other species, we find meaning in our experiences. That’s because our inner voices facilitate our ability for introspection, which allows us to learn from our mistakes and plan for future events.

    We develop this voice during infancy, and – as we learn to speak – it helps us with self-control. Studying toddlers speak to themselves aloud; Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky posited that by mimicking the instructions received from parents, children were learning to manage emotions. Then, as they grow older, they begin to use their own words to harness self-control.

    In adulthood, our inner voices help us keep track of the goals we strive for. Whether we’re working toward a promotion or winning the heart of our crush, verbal thoughts pop up to remind us of our purpose. And we can also run mental simulations. For instance, considering various texts we could send to that crush and what effect they might have.

    Ultimately, our inner voices greatly contribute to how we shape our identities. That’s because, through the process of introspection and reflection, we create meaningful narratives about ourselves. And having a solid identity helps us to mature, understand our values, and weather tumultuous times.

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    What is Chatter about?

    Chatter (2021) directly addresses our inner voice, which, too often, turns into our inner critic. Backed with information from countless studies, Chatter delivers a wealth of strategies to help free us from the negative thought spirals that dominate our lives.

    Chatter Review

    Chatter (2021) offers valuable insights into how our inner voice affects our daily lives and provides practical strategies to harness its power. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Backed by scientific research, it offers evidence-based techniques to help us navigate and control our inner chatter for better decision-making and overall well-being.
    • Through relatable stories and relatable anecdotes, Ethan Kross demonstrates how our inner voice can be both a source of self-sabotage and self-support, making it easy to relate to.
    • Drawing on real-life examples and relatable situations, the book offers practical strategies and techniques that readers can implement in their own lives for immediate results.

    Best quote from Chatter

    We use our minds to write the story of our lives, with us as the main character.

    —Ethan Kross
    example alt text

    Who should read Chatter?

    • People who have trouble finding mental quiet
    • Those hoping to learn how to give support to loved ones
    • Anyone interested in how our brains function

    About the Author

    Ethan Kross attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University and is a leading expert on the behavior of the mind. Currently, Kross is the director of the Emotion & Self Control Laboratory at the University of Michigan. His work has been published in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal – and he’s given policy advice to the White House.

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    Chatter FAQs 

    What is the main message of Chatter?

    The main message of Chatter is that our inner voice can have a profound impact on our well-being and relationships.

    How long does it take to read Chatter?

    The reading time for Chatter varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Chatter a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Chatter is a worthwhile read that provides insights into understanding and managing our inner voice, helping us navigate life's challenges.

    Who is the author of Chatter?

    Ethan Kross is the author of Chatter.

    What to read after Chatter?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Chatter, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön
    • It Didn't Start With You by Mark Wolynn
    • Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff
    • The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
    • Resilient by Rick Hanson with Forrest Hanson
    • When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté
    • Making Work Human by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine
    • The Myth of Normal by Gabor Maté with Daniel Maté
    • Boost! by Michael Bar-Eli
    • The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi