How to Reduce Negative Head Chatter


Do you believe that your internal head chatter impacts on your performance and confidence levels, or is a significant factor in your confidence?

Here is the simple intervention. Viktor Frankl (1905 -1997) developed the model below.

Stimuli are the things that come at us both internally, as thoughts and feelings and externally from others and environment.

Viktor Frankl’s was an Austrian Jewish Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. It was during his time held in concentration camps that he developed the model. Frankl discovered that even in the cruelest of environments… ‘Between stimulus and response man has the freedom to choose’.

Whilst for most of us there is no comparison to the suffering Frankl experienced, the model holds as true for us today as it ever has.

I think of the gap between stimulus and response as the ‘pause’. The pause enables you to give your thoughts a reality check. Use the pause to identify the root cause of your negative thoughts and raise your self-awareness to what is driving your thoughts and feelings and how they are affecting your performance or sense of wellbeing. Use your imagination to see things differently, or to visualise events and situations more realistically or positively. Listen to your conscience, would you speak to someone else as you are talking to yourself? Are you being kind or too hard on yourself? Are you berating or encouraging yourself? Finally to exercise your independent will, don’t be a victim of your own thoughts, most of the time they are just thoughts not a reality.

Once you have practiced the pause you will be amazed how quickly you can respond to your thoughts and feelings at a more conscious level. This will enable you to recognise rather than respond to negative head chatter.

I recommend you print out Frankl’s model and at the end of every day ask yourself, (1) Did I do my best to reduce my negative chatter (2) Did I do my best to respond to reality and not thoughts?

NB: If you want to hear more of Viktor Frankl here is a link to a rare short clip TED

The question format I have used in this text is taken from Marshall Goldsmith’s book Triggers.  Here is a link to one of Marshall’s blogs

Who wins the battle of your two wolves?

Bruce Springsteen on Desert Island discs gave me a light bulb moment. He said that all artists are shaped by childhoods whereby they are both demonised and worshipped. His own experience was a mother who believed that he was the second coming of the baby Jesus, and a father who believed he wasn’t worth dirt.

Springsteen’s comments bring the well-told story of the two wolves to mind.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside all of us,” he says to the boy. “It is a fight between two wolves. One is bad – he is hate, envy, greed, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority and jealousy. He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity and compassion.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

We all have experienced positive and negative responses. Of course if, like Springsteen, it’s about your parents, then the impact is deep. The reason Springsteen’s comment resonated with me was the similarity of my experience. My mother pretty much thought the sun shone out of my backside, while my father seemed to care more about where his next drink was coming from.

But which of these two win the battle is my choice. I have always chosen my mother.

It is not without difficulty – the negativity does slip in and this is where my support network comes in. I surround myself with people who believe in me. With those friends and the evidence around me I can believe in myself, as my mother still does to this day.

Who are your wolves and which do you chose to win the battle?

Here is the link to the Bruce Springsteen interview on Desert Island Discs

Talk these things over with close friends or you coach

  1. Who are your wolves?
  2. When are you most aware of them?
  3. What evidence do you have to support your good wolf?

How can you make sure you listen to your loving, kind and compassion wolf?

This article is focused on helping you build emotional intelligence, the more we understand ourselves to more able we are to understand and adapt to others and our environment.

Curious Minds Consulting – Closing the gap between potential and achievement