Mental chatter

Inner Chatter

Do you have a little crazy person living in your head, constantly offering opinions, feedback, and commentary? Does this nut in your brain comment on everything and anything, such as…

  • what you should be doing
  • what others should be doing
  • what you should have said to So-and-So
  • how much better things would be if only…
  • what you better remember not to forget
  • what you know that other person is thinking about you
  • etc, etc, etc…

This internal nutcase always has something to say about the past, the future, and the present. It generates suggestions, appraisals, condemnations about you, about others, and, basically, about everything. Blah, blah, blah…. It never takes a break! It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

Well, guess what? You’re not alone. Virtually everybody is pummeled by internal chatter composed of unsolicited opinions, judgments, and frequent bad advice.

Most of the time we’re not directly aware of this mental commentary. This internal opinion engine chugs along pretty much automatically, just below the surface of our awareness. But you can bring the chatterer more clearly into view if you try sitting still for five minutes and counting your breaths. Then you’ll notice just how often your counting is interrupted by planning, daydreaming, wishing, worrying, etc.

Inner Wisdom

Luckily, you also have a wise sage living inside your head. You experience the sage as a perceptive and patient voice, giving you helpful, grounded guidance that is right on track. Sometimes it feels like a gut instinct or intuition. Sometimes you just know without knowing why. Unfortunately, the wise sage is often drowned out by the nutcase!

A big part of our mindfulness practice is to hear and recognize these inner voices. We try to discern which part of our mind is speaking—the crazy one or the sage? And guess which one you want to give more attention to? Exactly! The one who sees and knows clearly.

But that doesn’t mean that you want to ignore the nutcase. You don’t need to resist your internal chatterbox or label it as bad or unwanted in any way. When you recognize that the opinion machine is up to its old tricks, simply understand that this is a normal byproduct of having a human mind.

And it’s important to do more than just recognize the inner “crazy” voice. Instead, listen with wisdom but do not buy into everything it says. After all, the nutcase is just trying to keep you safe and alive in an unsafe and unsure world, where the only thing guaranteed is your mortality. So instead of getting fed up with your internal nut, bring compassion to this part of yourself that is overreacting or making up irrational stories based on fear, insecurity, or past conditioning.

So discern which part of your mind is speaking, listen carefully for the internal sage, and bring patience and compassion to the nutcase By doing this, mental chatter diminishes and melts into the background, leaving your inner wisdom to guide you. More peace, more clarity, and more inner freedom will prevail.

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