How to Stop Overthinking & Dial Down Chatter | Emiliya Zhivotovskaya

Have you ever felt like your mind is a runaway train of incessant thoughts, worries, and self-doubts that never stops? You’re not alone. For so many of us, the relentless chatter of overthinking robs us of precious energy, joy, and the mental clarity to create our best lives. Or plain plan relax and enjoy the moment.

But what if I told you there are simple yet powerful ways to take back control? To befriend that overactive voice and transform it from a daily terror into an ally for mental peace?

My guest today, longtime friend and collaborator, Emiliya Zhivotovskaya, or as we often call her, EZ, has cracked the code to dial down the incessant taunt of overthinking. Emiliya is the CEO and founder of The Flourishing Center, and the creator of the acclaimed Certification in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) program. With a Master’s Degree in Positive Psychology from UPenn, she has devoted her career to empowering others with tools for resilience, vitality, and crafting lives of profound thriving.

In this rich conversation, Emiliya breaks down what’s really happening when our brains start to run rogue with chatter and overthinking. She reveals the five core forms of unhelpful mental chatter that drive most of our overthinking, rumination, and self-sabotaging internal narratives. But more importantly, she also shares specific, simple, actionable tools and techniques to disarm each form of chatter, turning it from an energy vampire into a force that motivates you towards growth, resilience, and peace.

If you’re tired of being drained by the overthinking monster, then this episode is a must-listen. Emiliya’s insights, rooted in science and her own powerful personal journey, provide an insightful road-map for taking back control of your mind and life.

You can find Emiliya at: WebsiteInstagram | Mind Over Chatter Course | Episode Transcript

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Episode Transcript:

Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:00:00] What I am allowing my brain to think about becomes the nature of my reality. From a very basic psychological perspective. Thoughts impact feelings and feelings impact behavior. Well, we’re not our thoughts, they’re just things that we’re experiencing, but we’re not trained to work with them. They can seem overwhelming, or they’re just running the show without us even being aware of it, and without them being regulated or without us focusing our attention. We’re just going to be reactive as opposed to responsible for our thoughts.


Jonathan Fields: [00:00:31] So have you ever felt like your mind is a bit of a runaway train of incessant thoughts and worries and self-doubt that never stop? You are not alone. For so many of us, the relentless chatter of overthinking it just robs us of precious energy and joy and the mental clarity to create our best lives or just a plain relax and enjoy the moment. But what if I told you there are a simple set of powerful ways to take back control, to befriend that overactive voice and transform it from a daily terror into an ally for mental peace? My guest today, longtime friend and collaborator Emiliya Zhivotovskaya, or as we often call her EZ, has cracked the code to really dial down the incessant taunt of overthinking. Emiliya is the CEO and founder of the Flourishing Center and the creator of the acclaimed Certification in Applied Positive Psychology program, with a master’s degree in Positive Psychology from UPenn. She’s devoted her entire career to really empowering others with tools for resilience and vitality, and crafting lives of profound thriving. And in this conversation, Emiliya breaks down what’s really happening when our brains start to run rogue with chatter and overthinking, she reveals the five core forms of unhelpful mental chatter that drive most of our overthinking and rumination and self-sabotaging internal narratives.


Jonathan Fields: [00:01:55] But more importantly, she also shares specific, simple, actionable tools and techniques to disarm each form of chatter, turning it from an energy vampire into a force that motivates you towards growth and resilience and just straight-up peace. If you’re tired of being drained by the overthinking monster, then this conversation is a must-listen. Emiliya’s insights rooted in science and her own powerful personal journey, they provide a really insightful roadmap for taking back control of your mind and life. So excited to share this conversation with you! I’m Jonathan Fields and this is Good Life Project.


Jonathan Fields: [00:02:39] Okay, so we’re diving into a topic today that I have been hearing so much about. I have been reading so much about, I have been having so many conversations about, and I feel like this is not new, but maybe people are just more comfortable sharing how much angst it’s causing them in their lives these days, and maybe the level of stress or anxiety or whatever has been going on that’s made it so much more heightened is just it’s causing a lot of suffering. And the overarching theme for this conversation, then, is this thing that we kind of generally call overthinking. But I know overthinking is a word that a lot of us just use in everyday to describe what’s happening when we’re experiencing it.


Jonathan Fields: [00:03:19] But there’s actually a lot of science underneath this. There’s a lot of structure underneath it. There are different names when you get into actually what’s happening, and there are different strategies that we can embrace to help really deal with this and maybe even turn that thing that causes so much suffering in us into a bit of a superpower. We’re going to dive into this. And I have a dear friend, long-time collaborator to dive into this with. So, Emiliya, you have been living in this world where when we first met a million years ago, you were actually in school doing your Masters in Applied Positive psychology at UPenn, spent a chunk of years coaching and consulting, and for many years now have literally been training the next generation of people to go out there and really help others in the world and industry individually. How often does this phenomenon that we’re talking about come up in the work that you’ve done in the client, work that you’ve done in the past, and what you hear coming back to you from the people who you have trained to go and help so many people.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:04:21] Thank you. Jonathan. I can literally say in just about every single session, some aspect of learning to control your thoughts, redirect the stories that you’re telling yourself or have mastery over your mind can apply to just about every conversation. There isn’t a trigger that we work through that doesn’t have some aspect of what’s going through your mind. In the heat of the moment, there isn’t a project that you’re trying to build or an idea that you want to build to fruition, that you’re not going to encounter your brain stories that it creates around it, and a stress levels go up. A lot of the stress that people feel. So whether we’re trying to navigate our day-to-day stressors and trying to fall asleep at night and then not being able to because your mind is just going, going, going, going, especially in our world that is constantly changing. And there are so many things that people are making decisions about, and there’s a space to constantly be overthinking your decisions. I decided to do this, I launched this, I posted this, should I have done that? Was I too much? Was I not enough? The constant ways in which chatter and your mind is impacting your feelings, impacting the things that you do is always present. But it’s such a present thing that very rarely do people realize that the source of their suffering, the source of their overwhelm, the source of their stress, has to do with the stories that they’re telling themselves or what’s going on in their mind.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:05:49] And then because the sound of your own mind chatter or your thoughts sounds like your own voice, it’s very hard to separate apart what’s chatter and what’s things that I can actually reframe and redirect. And so it leads to this swimming in this stew of just like asking a fish what is water? It doesn’t even occur to us that the cause of our stress or our overwhelm has to do with the way that we’re thinking or the things that we’re telling ourselves about the situation. So I think it’s ever-present, and it’s also rarely taught or trained, or that we’re rarely ever taught or trained. How do we actually redirect our thoughts, take control of our chatter, and not just make the chatter stop because there’s a reason your mind is telling you these things. It’s trying to get your attention, but we’re often just passive recipients of what our thoughts are giving to us. And it doesn’t even occur to us that we can do something about it, or that we should do something about it.


Jonathan Fields: [00:06:48] Mm, it’s like there’s actually some data or value. There’s some Intel in those things. But when you’re sort of like mired in the spin cycle, it sounds like that gets lost. Yeah. I’m curious also, as you’re describing this, what you feel, if any, the role of technology and social media has been in the level of overthinking or self-talk or chatter that we have, especially, I would imagine, because for so many people, this phenomenon is related in some way to their sense of self-perception and especially their sense of self in comparison to others. And I wonder, so I wonder whether you have a take the role of tech and social media in overthinking.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:07:31] Yeah, I think that it just all of these levers that we have inside of our body, given the world that we’re in right now, they’re all in. Hyperdrive. Social comparison is something that we’re all evolutionarily wired for. That used to be a really useful strategy when life was simpler, when life wasn’t happening at this rapid pace. It is the signals that go off in your body that go, oh, maybe I should reevaluate my life. Maybe I’m not doing something right. Maybe someone’s doing something better than I could be doing it. But in a world where the amount of input that you have access to is millions of people from all over the world doing thousands of different things, giving you so much information. There’s this aspect where we have access to more opportunities to compare ourselves socially, just by the number of people we know. For thousands of years, the average person maybe had a network of like 150 people, or the people you lived next to and you were in proximity to. Now we have access to way more people than ever before, so many more opportunities to socially compare. We have so much more uncertainty on a very different kind of scale. I know every single generation could say that they had fears and that they had uncertainties, and they had wars and they had unknowns, but the nature of how it’s actually showing up is very different. And this ability, the given the fact that noise has been a big factor of our world, just how we’re constantly stimulated, even just being able to find that sense of calm, I think a lot of people would agree that they would want to hear their intuition or find that inner voice, that sometimes they can refer to that voice of knowing that voice of confidence, of what do I need to do next? Or, yeah, I made the right decision.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:09:13] I did the right thing that they’re able to hear and feel that. But in a world that’s so loud, the actual conditions that are required in order to ground in that way and trust in yourself, we’re just in a very different world. And so one way of thinking about it is that the thing that we’re talking about, this chatter, this overthinking, this rumination that we get ourselves into, it’s almost like an alarm that goes off in the house. It’s an alarm that’s going off in your brain. And it’s supposed to. All emotions and all mind chatter are meant to try to get your attention, to pay attention to something. But what happens is, is we’re not taught how to turn that chatter off. And so the alarm just sort of is going in the background all the time. There’s this constant worry or this constant rumination or this constant thing, and we just sort of drown it out a little bit, but it’s there. And so I think the nature of our world is actually taking all of these buttons that were evolutionarily wired for that are natural, healthy responses. It kicks them into overdrive. And then we are not trained with the skills of, oh, just quiet your mind or just think about something else or just calm yourself down. And we’re not actually trained in any of those things we hear. We say these words all the time, like, go relax. You know, that’s easier said than done when you are in a hyperdrive and a tendency to just be going, going, going.


Jonathan Fields: [00:10:35] Yeah. I mean, that makes so much sense. That gets back to what you were saying earlier in that there is information in whatever it is. The problem is that we hit spin on this and there’s this cycle that just spins and spins and spins. And then so often what became the early signal that had some important information for us. We not only spin it and just can’t let it go, but then we start to layer different stories on top of it. That may be doom and gloom, stories or things or what all these what ifs and not what ifs in terms of amazing possibilities, but what ifs often in terms of worst-case scenarios. And then it just kind of paralyzes us when we think about this phenomenon. You’ve used a couple of different words for it. I shared overthinking, you said chatter, rumination. Do we know what’s actually happening on a brain level, on a on a neurophysiological level that gets us stuck in this, or is it really more a behavioral thing.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:11:33] And a neurological level? Thoughts are just firing signals throughout our brain. Our brain is firing signals for everything from keeping your heart beating to keeping you salivating, to keeping you blinking, to keeping your organs moving and your body digesting. Our brain is signaling off these molecules and these firings so that we can be alive. And thinking is just not any different than that. It’s the combination of the fact that our mind is constantly making sense of the world around us that has different types of thought patterns, different types of chatter that we can have. There could be the what time is it? Where do I need to be right now? What am I going to eat? Oh I didn’t I don’t have any food in the fridge. I need to go to the grocery store, or the grocery store is going to take me ten minutes to get to. Could I make it there and back before I come back to my appointment? So all of that is just the chatter that’s going on inside of our mind. And on a neurological level, they’re just thoughts, and they’re thoughts that can occur at different frequencies. We can hook a person up to an EEG and watch those. Thinking patterns be transmitted as different areas of the brain firing for different things. But we definitely can’t map a thought. And there is this difference between what is the brain and what is the mind. So in some ways, thoughts are signals that are going off inside of our brain, and then our mind is making sense of these.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:12:57] It’s it’s creating a story. It’s creating a story about who we are. And so the way to start to navigate this is to just understand also that we are not our thoughts. And I first got exposed to this. If I can just share a quick story, because this fundamental skill is what I would say transformed my life when I first learned this work. And it was actually even before I got my master’s in Positive psychology, I came to the master’s degree in positive psychology at UPenn with a desire to go deeper into this very thing, because I wanted to study resilience and understand what separates people who are resilient and able to bounce back when they face adversity and stressors versus people who don’t. Because of my own journey with how I had to personally navigate obstacles and navigate my own life, and earlier, before I even came to positive psychology, I had had a mentor named Doctor Srikumar Rao who introduced me to this idea of mind chatter. And he would say, your thoughts create your reality. And sometimes we hear that word from a pop psychology place, and sometimes we hear it from a neurological perspective, from a psychological perspective, if we talk psychological perspective, we know that our thoughts create attention biases that what you’re thinking about, you’re going to see more of our thoughts, create self-fulfilling prophecies that our thoughts become beliefs. And when he first introduced me to this idea of mind chatter, it was like all of a sudden I became aware of this voice inside my head that was happening my whole life.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:14:26] But all of a sudden it was like it was so loud. And the exercise was was to just notice what I was thinking about. And at the time, I had been grappling with an eating disorder that had started when I was 14. And as you know, Jonathan, my had a series of traumas as a child. But one of them was that my brother died in an accident when I was 14 and he was 24. And in over the course of those years, I started to obviously use the best resources I could as a child to start to navigate my world. And in this process of becoming bulimic, or having a disordered body image and a disordered relationship to food and other things and control, it was crazy to me how much I realized my mind chatter was constantly fixated on things like how much am I eating? How many calories, how many grams of fat, what time am I eating? I realized I’d be eating breakfast, thinking about what am I going to eat for lunch. It’s like someone opened up the doors to this maddening world. That was my mind. And when Srikumar said, your thoughts create your reality, and even suggested this possibility of tuning into thoughts, and that I could actually choose the thoughts that I was having. And if I was thinking a thought, and I didn’t want to think it, that I could redirect, it was absolutely mind-blowing to me. And so what I started to do was, and some of the exercises we’ll talk about today have to do with being able to catch the different thoughts, require different tools, just the same way that if you had opened up a carpenter’s belt and you have a hammer and a screwdriver and a drill and these different things, you wouldn’t use a hammer when you need a drill.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:16:01] We actually have different tools for different types of thoughts. And so I was I was brought into awareness about just how messed up my mind was. You know, that I couldn’t eat a meal without in peace thinking about the meal I was going to have and how much I was walking around assuming that other people were judging me and what I look like because I was judging them. And so for the initially it was like a cacophony of sound, but actually taking those, taking the time to start to drill the thoughts apart and actually dissect them and take them to court. Little by little, I started to change how I was feeling. I started to change how I was relating to myself, to food, to exercise, to my body, started to find more compassion and understanding why I think these things. But for me, it was that fundamental place, and it started with just being able to understand that what I am allowing my brain to think about becomes the nature of my reality. From a very basic psychological perspective, thoughts impact feelings and feelings impact behavior. And so when when I was thinking thoughts that, you know, kids will sometimes say I have bad thoughts or adults will kind of feel ashamed of the thoughts that they have, well, we’re not our thoughts, they’re just things that we’re experiencing, but we’re not trained to work with them.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:17:16] They can seem overwhelming, or they’re just running the show without us even being aware of it. And so I became aware of these behaviors I was taking on, or these things I was saying to myself, things that I would never say to somebody else. I would be cruel to myself in a way that even saying out loud what I just said to someone else would have been unheard of. I would never call someone fat and. Gross and disgusting. And who’s ever going to love you or want you or any of these things? But I was saying them to myself. And so I know your question was around the neurological basis of it and just wanted to throw out that it is the difference between psychology, which is the awareness of our cognitions, awareness of our emotions, awareness of our behaviors, and then a very physiological level. It’s just a whole bunch of zaps, of zaps, of neurons firing inside of our brain that are just innocent. You know, they’re not trying to keep you up at night. They’re not trying to make you so stressed out that you can’t give your presentation the next day. They’re just doing their thing. And without them being regulated or without us focusing our attention, we’re just going to be reactive as opposed to responsible for our thoughts.


Jonathan Fields: [00:18:26] Now that makes a lot of sense. So if so many of us experienced this and so often has really negative effects, it affects our state of mind, our psychology, our physiology, our feelings, our behavior. It basically can bring so much suffering to us beyond the fact that it also consumes so much of our just cognitive and emotional bandwidth. It takes up so much time and space that we could be used doing amazing things, thinking amazing thoughts, building amazing relationships. I think so many of us have felt this. The spin cycle in my head is taking up so much of my time, like I don’t have as much left over to do the things that I want to do, to feel the way that I want to feel. And by the time that I do, I’m exhausted from the spin cycle of overthinking, and all I want to do is sit on a couch and binge the latest episode of whatever it may be, beyond the fact that, as you said, like each one of these different things has a seed of something that has information that is important, that does matter to us. What is your sense of why so many people? What’s the underlying why here? Why we tip into, oh, there’s something that just came into my mind. It’s something I need to think about or consider. Maybe make a decision about. Like what’s the why behind why so many people then go from that place and start to escalate it and circle it up and up and up and up and up until it becomes all-consuming. Is there sort of a common underlying mechanism that makes us do that, or is it really just unique to the individual?


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:20:01] I think the mechanism is just being human. And what I, what I hear you saying is, is, you know, what’s happening, that there’s a couple of different aspects of it. One is the snowball thinking, which we sometimes refer to as catastrophizing, where it’s like one thought leads to another, leads to another, leads to another, leads to another, and next thing you know, you’ve taken a molehill and you turn it into a mountain and it becomes this big thing in your head to even just the idea of, well, how? What happens when I can’t let it go? And a lot of it is because we think that we need the chatter in order to solve the problem. So sometimes if you just say to a person, just just clear your mind, just let it go, let that story go, that without understanding that there’s different types of chatter, it becomes a little bit more complex. But I’m just going to keep it all together for a moment. So let’s say you took the time and you wrote an email to your colleague, and there was something that was happening that was upsetting you. They did something that just didn’t feel so good. They spoke over you in a meeting and you needed to get something from them. So you write this email and you decided to be a little bit vulnerable, and you were a little bit vulnerable and you hit send and now the email is sent, you know, at some point you’re going to get a response on this email may not be tonight.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:21:18] It’s the end of the workday. It could be tomorrow. And now here you go. It’s already sent. You can’t undo it. You could probably try to remove it from the inbox, but then they’ll see that you removed it and that the message was deleted. And then you start the whole chain of thoughts. Well, if I delete it and they could see that it was removed, then I have to send a follow-up email explaining why it was removed. And should I have said that? And da da da da. And then your significant other comes and just goes. Let it go, Jonathan. Let it go. You already sent it. You’ll cross that bridge when you get there. However, they react, but the brain just fixates on it. And so there’s different types of chatter that we have. It’s like what happens when we think we’ve made a mistake, which is regret chatter. I should have done this. I could have done that. What happens to the what if type of chatter? Well, what if this happens and what if that happens? Or the chatter where you’re trying to get yourself to motivate yourself to do something? Okay, I need to do this. I have to do this. And why the brain fixates on it is often just habitual and it’s often just dopaminergic. It’s just your brain is kicking off dopamine. It’s trying to motivate a behavior to get you to do something different. Because the brain isn’t wired for an email that someone is going to read that you can’t undo.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:22:31] The brain isn’t wired for a picture that you posted on social media. The brain isn’t wired for. What are people going to think of this brand that I’ve just put together? They’ve known me of running a company under this brand, and suddenly I want to offer this new thing. And what are people going to think about me? It’s just trying to problem-solve. And so, so often the reason that people aren’t doing something about it is one they don’t realize what’s happening because it just sounds like their mind chatter. They don’t think they have control over it. And there’s this little tiny bit where we think we need the chatter, we think we need the worry in order to problem solve. And research shows that high-level worriers don’t problem solve in the same way that people who are able to get into a calm state and look at the problem. So we really need to treat this, both the chatter and the emotion, as just signals within our body that are meant to get our attention. But then if we aren’t controlling it, if we don’t have the reins over our thoughts. It’s then it’s just like, you know, there’s a lot of play with this metaphor of the rider and the elephant. You know, it’s just the elephant is running amok. And here we are trying to control this massive thing, and we can call it the monkey mind.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:23:43] The monkey just goes running around all over the place in our mind. And so becoming a master of your mind, being able to actually redirect your thoughts and to work with your chatter is a level of personal mastery that we can all aspire to. We just haven’t been taught. And so we just wind up in this doing as we’ve been doing. And there’s so many reasons why, when we are having the thought, even when their doom and gloom thoughts, it’s very known that the brain doesn’t truly know the difference between what it imagines and what it sees. And if you want, I can even walk us through a little magic trick exercise right now where I can even prove this to you. So can I ask you to close your eyes for a second, Jonathan, because it’s going to help those of you who listen to the Good Life Project podcast while driving, keep your eyes open, but do this with us. You just practice your visualization. Okay, so, Jonathan, I’m going to invite you to take a deep breath into your body. And a slow breath out. I just wanna acknowledge your shoulders just dropped as you did that. That’s because you’re a well-trained breather and do this a lot. And I want you to imagine that you are standing in your kitchen and look around your kitchen for me for a moment, and just tell me some of the things that you see around your kitchen.


Jonathan Fields: [00:24:59] Um, I see a stove, water purifier, sink, uh, table, plants, dishes, cabinets, refrigerator floor, windows, trees and greenery outside of the windows when we keep going.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:25:16] That’s a good start. Beautiful. So I want you to now imagine that you see on the surface of your counter a cutting board. And imagine a cutting board with a bright yellow lemon on it and a cutting knife. So I’m going to invite you to walk on over and take the lemon and place it onto the cutting board, and then use the knife to cut the lemon in half. And as you cut it in half, maybe you notice a little bit of the zest or the little explosion of juice that comes out of it, and then lay it flat down and cut it one more time until you have a quarter of a lemon in your hand. And then imagine bringing that quarter of a lemon up to your nose and just take a gentle smell. Maybe you could even imagine yourself smelling that lemon zest. And then imagine opening your mouth and squeezing the lemon juice into your mouth. And notice what’s happening inside your mouth right now. And those of you listening, notice what’s happening. And then when you’re ready. Open your eyes. And what did you notice, Jonathan?


Jonathan Fields: [00:26:27] I noticed my tongue pulled back. And I also noticed that my shoulders pulled up towards my ears. Like in preparation.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:26:33] Your mouth looked like it moved a little.


Jonathan Fields: [00:26:35] Yeah. And then my chin kind of pulled back a little bit.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:26:37] Also, did you notice any more saliva? Did you feel yourself salivating a little bit more?


Jonathan Fields: [00:26:42] Probably a touch. Yeah.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:26:44] So those of you listening, I’ve done this with thousands and thousands of people, and most of the time people will perch their lips a little, pluck their lips, and they will start to actually start salivating a bit more. And what you experienced there, Jonathan, was this physical response, right? There was no lemon. You’re just imagining yourself squeezing a lemon into your mouth and your body braced for it. I’ve done this so many times that just as I start guiding people through the visualization, I say, take out the lemon. I start salivating and I’m like, I have to, like, suck back my own spit so I don’t spit all over the mic. So the reason for this is your body doesn’t actually have a lemon in front of it. It’s just imagining it. And in that imaginary process, it’s preparing yourself for receiving something citrusy and something tart, and it starts releasing saliva with amylase in it so you can start to break down the sugar. It’s getting ready. In fact, one of the best things we can do for our just good health and nutrition in terms of diet is actually take a moment to pause and appreciate your food because digestion starts in the brain. Most people think digestion starts when you put food into your mouth and you start to chew it, but it actually it starts with your eyes.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:27:55] It starts by seeing the food. Another example of this is you can find yourself in a restaurant and you’re like, yeah, yeah, I’m not hungry. And then a waiter or waitress comes by with a plate of food and all of a sudden you’re just like, hungry, I am hungry. You’re like, how did that happen so quickly? You just saw food and that kicked up your digestive system that said, oh, we got to get ready to digest. Now the same thing happens with our brains when we start to imagine the worst-case scenario about something, or we just get into like a what if this happened? So what if I put this program out there and what if nobody registers for it? Then in that moment I’m imagining that actually happening. What would that look like if nobody registered for it? My brain is actually creating a mental simulation. Even if I can’t visually see it, it already starts to imagine it. And then what if nobody registers for programs in this next season? And then what if I run through the savings that I have in my business of paying payroll and all my expenses? And then what if I need to take out a loan and I can’t get one? And then what if I can’t pay my bills? And what if I become late on my mortgage? What if, what if, what if? So, the snowball start to happen.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:29:07] And the key is that at any given step, so many things would need to happen in order for step seven to happen. 123456, seven. We’re so not there right now. But the brain almost imagines that it’s possible because at each step it created a simulation of it actually being plausible. So we can go from these things that have absolutely no basis in reality. They’re not likely to actually happen. But because we’re creating these stories and we’re imagining it in some ways seems plausible. And research can has shown this with even things like having a person hold up an object and look at an object, and they’ll run a scan of the areas of the brain that light up when they’re actually seeing the object, and then they would have them close their eyes and now recall the object. Or imagine seeing the object, and they take a look at what areas of the brain are lighting up. And there there tends to be a 60 to 80% overlap in terms of the areas of the brain that light up, and athletes use this all the time. It’s why they use mental simulation, where they will rehearse themselves going through a routine, imagining themselves in the moment, going through the steps step by step so that when they are actually ready to do it, they just take action.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:30:23] So this is a natural, healthy part of our brain. But when it’s going to these doom and gloom places, or it’s telling ourselves these stories about ourselves, we’re imagining these things. They start to feel as though they’re real, and particularly about the ones that are related to worry. When your brain sees something or imagines something that it’s like, what if this bad thing happens? Your body is going to be flooded with stress hormones that are wired to make you take action. They’re supposed to propel you to when you feel scared, run away, fight back, or freeze. And oftentimes you. It’s nothing to run from. There’s no actual threat. But we’re left with this elevated heart rate. We’re left with this amygdala that’s overfiring, or this cortisol that’s being released in our body, making it a little harder to concentrate, making it a little harder to fall asleep. And then we find ourselves in this cycle, particularly if we then look at just how you said these thoughts can become really depleting. Give you just a quick example of a client I recently worked with. She had just come back from a breakup, and so it was like a really intense heartbreak for her. And she’s trying to clear her mind and not think about the breakup, but she’s trying to just get back to focusing on her business.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:31:37] And here she is trying to make a decision about whether or not she shares kind of more intimately and vulnerably about what’s been going on on social media. And does she post on this one on this platform, or does she post on that platform and, and all of this weight around, like, what’s going to be the right decision or the wrong decision? And we looked at how just this layer of chatter takes this thing that she could just go and do, which is just put a post together, put a post together first, and then see which platform you might want to put it in or where it’s best suited. And she’s just finding herself paralysed to being able to even take that first step. And the reason for it is because this mind chatter just weighs down the very basic thing that we need to do, or motivation chatter, when it’s like you have something that you might really enjoy doing, like sitting down to write or sitting down to create something new that you actually legitimately do enjoy doing when you do it. But all of this thought of like, I have to do this, I need to get this done. I should have done this by now. Why didn’t I get this started then? Feeling guilty for doing other things rather than doing the thing? All of a sudden, this thing that was just pure and innocent, a very pure and innocent action, is now heavy and loaded because of what we’ve done to it with our mind.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:32:53] And so we talked about stripping the chatter of trying to figure out the right or wrong thing to do with a thing. And we’re like, what if you just made the thing first? What if you just made the post, enjoyed making the post, and then thought about what’s the right or wrong way to place it? And it was such a simple thing, but just catching how much of her chatter was around, what if I do the wrong thing? And already being so sad and heartbroken and just kind of trying to get her mood boosted anyway, just put it all together into like making this simple thing harder for herself. And then when she just freed herself of the chatter of the what’s the right way to do it? What’s the wrong way to do it? Or having to figure it all out and just went back to taking it one step in front of the other. She was able to do it and feel lighter. And so this is like our thoughts can make things heavier, harder, weigh us down in ways that we usually don’t even realize.


Jonathan Fields: [00:33:45] Yeah, that resonates so much. You’ve mentioned so far in a conversation with that really defining them. What are different types of chatter? And I know you have this sort of taxonomy of chatter where you look at it and you say, well, it’s not all just one thing, but there are these five different types. So I think it would be helpful to maybe walk through the five different types and just so we can have a sense for what these are and how to distinguish them. And then maybe we’ll talk about some of the tools that would be relevant for each. So maybe we’ll go one at a time defining and describing what each of these different types of overthinking chatter, rumination on. Yeah.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:34:24] Yeah, absolutely. And I should say that the way that this model got created is that we’re looking at the five types of chatter that need changing. These are the five types of overthinking and ruminating, or the types of thoughts that people could have that if you don’t learn how to navigate these types, they’re going to be more problematic. There are some types of thoughts that we have that are just factual thoughts like, I’m hungry, I have to pee. How much time is left in this podcast? What do I need to go do next? You don’t need to train yourself because those types of thoughts, even if you’re having them, at the very least, all they’ll do is stop you from being mindful. Then there’s sort of dreaming thoughts like, oh, where could we go for vacation this year? Or I’ve heard that Bali’s, you know, beautiful this time of year, all of that type of chatter. It’s just thoughts about the future. It’s sort of innocent. In fact, it’s great to daydream and get creative and think that. So those kind of thoughts are fine. Again, the worst that they’ll do is stop you from being in the present moment. Just being really aware of what you have right now. Empty mind, blank mind. But the five types of chatter, these are chatter that we want to be able to learn to work with because they can lead to weighing you down, stressing you, or some of them could put you if you don’t learn to challenge them at risk for depression or at risk for anxiety.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:35:48] And if you look at what are the highest maladies that people struggle with nowadays, it’s some aspect of generalized anxiety disorder or some aspect of depression or the two going together. We could actually help quite a lot of people navigate this, these two major ailments that they’re experiencing by teaching them this chatter. So I call it the mind-over-chatter approach. And we start with the idea of worry, chatter, judgment chatter, regret chatter mindset chatter and motivation chatter. So we. Worry. Chatter is any time your mind has thoughts about the future that have a flavor of protection or fear. So it could be worry chatter, it could be anxiety chatter. And what’s great about this approach and actually training it as a system is if you can hear the beginning of what your mind is saying or what you’re ruminating or overthinking about, when you can catch that beginning part, you can know which chatter to apply to it or which way of reframing it. So worry chatter is anything that starts with what if it’s anything going into the future? So what if I don’t get this job? What if I make a fool of myself? What if they think that I don’t have what it takes? What if they call me out on it? What if they don’t listen to me? What if I do get it? So it’s any time that we’re having that thought of what if something bad is going to happen or it’s anything future-orientated, it could also be like, I’m going to mess this up, I’m going to I will, I’ll end up, I’ll never any of these future-oriented thoughts.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:37:30] And the key about mind over worry chatter is that we want to first start by having compassion for our mind as to why it’s doing this in the first place. The only reason you’re worrying is because there is the thought of a potential threat, which is not very likely, and your brain is trying to protect you from it. So the way to work with worry chatter is always first to say, thank you, brain. I know you’re trying to protect me and work with the worry, and in order to work with the worry, we have different processes. But I’ll give you some shortcuts to it. The first one that you can use is understanding that the things that you’re worried about, we’re not actually worried about, you’re not worried that something will happen to your health. You’re not worried that you will lose your home, or your job or your freedom or all these other things. We’re worried that these things would happen and that they would crush us. They would stop us from being able to move forward. You know what? If I make a mistake, you’re not actually afraid of whatever that mistake is. You’re afraid that you’ll make this mistake and you will not be able to recover from it. So teaching people to work with their worry, we work with the helping them understand that they have handled it. The talkback sentences to, well, what if this happens? And what if that happens? The short key is that you say to yourself, I’ve handled it before, and I’ll handle it again, or you catch yourself going to those worst-case scenarios.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:38:54] And sometimes we take a process where we actually let the brain go, worst case scenario, and you just go, okay, and then what happens and then what happens and then what happens and actually get all those catastrophizing thoughts out and then go to the unrealistically best case scenario. So what if the positive opposite happened. So it goes from I’m looking for a job. I haven’t been able to find a job. I nail my ideal job right out the gate, and then you go down this unrealistically best-case scenario so that you can get to what’s most likely going to happen. Because in that place of worry, we’re not able to problem-solve. So it’s really important to be able to peel them apart. And as you said earlier Jonathan, you’re like, why don’t we just do away with this? Why don’t we just stop? Well, there’s nothing like telling a high level worrier that they shouldn’t worry. When you tell them that they shouldn’t worry. They just worry more that you’re not worried as much as they are. They worry for you, that you’re not worrying enough. And so they just dig their heels even more into their need for worry. So rather than working with the worry, we want to understand that the worry was just there to get your attention so that you could work with the chatter so that you could problem solve, so that if these, God forbid, things can happen, that you have a plan.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:40:09] So okay. Thank you, brain, for telling me about these worst-case scenario things that can happen. I believe I will handle them. So let me take a look at them. You know what? If this happens, can I actually plan for this thing? No I can’t, there’s only so much I can plan for. Something that might happen ten years out into the future. Of what? If something happens to me in retirement and I don’t have enough money for retirement? What can I do about it? Today is how we work with worry, chatter, and all those future thoughts can all be handled very much in the same way so that you’re able to reframe it, catch yourself going, what if this happens? What if that happens? And you can say, if it happens, I will handle it. Or you take the thought and you digest it, you write it down and you go, okay, can I actually do something about this in this moment? If so, great. What can I do to prevent it from happening? But it’s like with the banana peel. The banana is the thing you want to eat. The peel is the worry. And most people don’t understand that. They can separate the feeling of worry, the the heartbeat, the ruminating from the actual problem-solving. So that problem solving is what you want to do. But if you just stay in the worry and the ruminating about it, you’re not going to be able to problem-solve as effectively.


Jonathan Fields: [00:41:21] And that makes a lot of sense to me. One of the things that I’m curious about as you’re describing this is does this get easier with repetition? Because what I’m thinking about, especially with the worry type of chatter, the scenario, you’re looking at, a new job opportunity, I don’t know. Will I be good at will I get it? Will I not get it? What are they thinking? You get the job right. The minute you accept the job, you show up the first day and then the chatter just rolls into what if I mess up? What if I lose the job? And then, like you get to the next day, you get a really good project and then you’re given something more complex. I’m not ready for this. Like, if I screw this up, then there’s even more riding on it. So, you know, it occurs to me, especially with the worry type, that there’s probably no end to the cycle. So what I’m wondering is, are the interventions that you’re talking about. They’re fairly straightforward. Like you don’t have to pay for them, that you can do them yourself. You can. Is it the type of thing where the more we do these things, the more we sort of like build the muscle or the habit of noticing what our thought is and then actually like, you know, like doing these simple interventions that you described that it becomes more habitual that we default to these pattern interrupts, and that not only does it make it easier for us in the moment, but does it, over time, start to help us not go there in the first place?


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:42:40] Yeah, such a powerful question, Jonathan. It is more like whack-a-mole where you whack the thought and you get it, and then it’s like it’s no longer worrying about this and it’s going to find the next thing to worry about. And then it’s like you worry about not getting the job, but then you worry about the fact that now you have the job and now you have to fulfill on the thing. And now the pressure comes. And it does get easier if you can, over time, see the pattern and zoom out the lens and actually befriend the worry. We want to befriend this part of ourselves. We actually want to love this part of ourselves. And this is where the best tool that we can actually implement is some aspect of self-compassion, that we are not our thoughts. I am me having a thought. I can’t be the thing that I’m observing. I’m the observer and there’s a part of me that’s having a thought. So separating that out. And then when you see those patterns, we can understand that it is just this one thing that’s got this loyal job to do, which is to keep you safe and protect you. And so that when the habit, when the thing comes on and it does, you can just go, oh, how sweet, how sweet you are, dear part of myself that’s trying to protect me, you know, you’re done worrying about this and now you’re looking for the next thing.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:43:56] And literally is that when I work with clients all the time, they can literally feel that now their brain is looking for the next thing because everything is okay right now. It’s like it’s got to be something to worry about. I’m worried that I’m not worrying about something. And when you can just see that it is a tendency that will always be present, and we don’t want to lose it because you will, at some point in your life, need the part of you that’s going red alert. There is real danger. And so if we could just remove this part of you, you wouldn’t want to. But we do need to start to befriend it, especially when it’s that habitual. And being able to understand that it is just how it is, just manifesting from one worry into another. And it’s that same tendency. And so rather than just even trying to whac-a-mole it, we’ll say thank you. And you keep coming back to that same thing. Thank you brain, you’re trying to protect me. And then once we do get good also at these talk talk back sentences, I hear the what if this happens my go to is I’ll cross that bridge when I get there or I’ll handle it. And so it just I hear my brain and repetition and the same thing for the other types of chatter.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:45:03] That’s why I like it, because they’re quick little mnemonics. And over time your whack-a-moling faster and you get more time in the relapse where there is nothing to hold on to, where this familiar relationship you had with beating up on yourself. You can’t just stop beating up on yourself, because when you’re trying to not do something, you end up just thinking about doing it more so with the overthinking and the the over ruminating. And it’s like you catch yourself like beating up on yourself, being so hard on yourself, you would give someone else grace that they messed up that speech. It’s okay. They did the best they could, but you know, you had to be perfect. And so you’re catching this and it’s like, well, how do I stop this habit of beating up on myself or being so hard on myself? That’s really hard to do. But the more you have compassion, little by little by little by little, you just you stop doing it. And over time, that relationship that you had to it taking form does shift and it becomes more habitual. And you talk back to it faster. The voice becomes not as loud, it becomes not as strong, doesn’t mean it’s not. It’s ever going to go away because all of these things are just trying to protect, you.


Jonathan Fields: [00:46:14] No, that makes a lot of sense. Let’s walk through the other four. Great.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:46:20] So from worry chatter we can go to motivation chatter. Motivation chatter. And I might have said this in a different order but let’s just go to motivation chatter. So motivation chatter is any time that your mind is weighing you down with I have to do this, I need to do this, I should do this. And one would think that this is just perfectly innocent. Just having the thought, I need to do this, I have to do this. But what it turns into is too much of that chatter makes you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulder. You feel burdened by everything you have to do and you need to do. And one of our core needs as human beings is for agency and autonomy. So we don’t realize that every single time we’re thinking, like, I need to pick my kids up from school and I have to make dinner, and I need to call this person back, and I have to do this, that if it’s just like, gee, I have to do this, it would be fine. But most people, when it’s ruminating and their mind is just going, it’s on a set cycle and I don’t do enough and I should be doing more. So the reason we’re we’re having that chatter of, you should do this, you need to do this, you have to do this.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:47:28] Don’t forget, you have to do this is because your brain is trying to motivate you to take action. But what often happens is it doesn’t motivate you. It just makes you feel like you are overburdened or you do eventually do it. But when it’s overthinking and ruminating about it, it’s just an overkill. It’s like I wrote down, I wrote this down on my to do list. I will get to it eventually. I don’t need to think about it. It’s a misuse of energy to keep letting my brain ruminate about it. And so there’s a quick turnaround for this. The first is just to remove the burden and reclaim agency. You don’t have to pick your children up from school. You want to pick your kids up from school because you don’t want them stranded at school by themselves. You don’t have to do the laundry. You choose to do the laundry because you would prefer to wear clean underwear. You don’t have to return your email. You want to return your email because you’d like to get back to people that are waiting for you. You don’t even have to pay your bills. Really. You don’t have to pay bills. And I would imagine that you would like to keep your Wi-Fi and your heat and your house and all these other things, but even that, it’s like you don’t actually have to without the control over the motivation chatter.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:48:42] It just starts to feel heavy and you just feel burdened by everything, by the world, by this world you’ve created, even when it’s a really good things. Like I have all of these things that I want to do, they’re all so good, but they’re not actually motivating you to take action because there’s just too many of them. So with that one, the quick one is you go from, I have to, I need to or I should to, I want to or I get to or I choose to or you can take that choose to to I choose to blank because blank I don’t have to go to work. I choose to go to work because I like collecting a paycheck. I don’t have to go to the gym. I want to go to the gym. But sometimes you don’t want to go to the gym. And then you could just say, I want to want to go to the gym. But even I want to want is better than I have to. So this is one of the ways that in our mind, we don’t even realize it. We we zap ourselves of our power. We zap ourselves of our agency because of the way in which we’re overthinking these things, where the only reason your brain is saying it in the first place is because it wants to motivate you to go to the gym because it’s good for you.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:49:55] Pick up your kids. So motivation, chatter, catching it and then replacing it. I get to you don’t have to make dinner, you get to make dinner. Little shifts like that can take something from it feeling like a burden. And you can’t turn your chatter off, can’t turn your mind off. Just just going, going to feeling grateful for the thing that you get to do. And this you can not just introduce yourself, but it’s really helpful to introduce your family to this idea or your colleagues to this idea. My team says this to me all the time. I’ll be on a meeting and I’ll say, okay, I have to go teach class right now. And they’ll say, do you have to? Or do you get to? And I’ll be like, you’re right, I get to go teach class right now. Because no, really, I do. I’m so honored. That’s the thing. When they say it, it’s like, yeah, I do. I get to I’m grateful that I get to. But so often we forget that, right. And so that’s motivation chatter got it.


Jonathan Fields: [00:50:52] No I love that reframe. Also what I love about like these interventions too is the interventions themselves are not heavy. It’s like they’re not adding burden or complexity. They’re straightforward. They’re simple. It’s just a matter of getting into the practice of noticing and then using them on a regular basis. We talked about motivation. We talked about worry. Let’s walk through the the other three. Yeah.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:51:14] So the next one that’s good to know about is mindset chatter. And the reason I call. This mindset shatters. Its intimately tied to the idea of fixed and growth mindset, and we know that research shows that people who hold more of a growth mindset are more successful. They’re better able to handle stress, persist in the face of setbacks. Growth mindset is something that’s really essential for resilience. And this is when you hear your brain think, say things that start with I can’t or I don’t. I don’t know how to do that. I can’t do that. I don’t have what it takes for that. And again, that might actually be accurate in that moment, but there’s a deflated feeling when we just say, I can’t or I don’t. And if it’s just like, oh yeah, you know, I can’t do that tomorrow, I’m not free at that time, that’s fine. But what we’re talking about is the one that actually ties into a mindset like, I don’t have what it takes to do this. If we add the word yet to the end of it, like, I can’t speak. I’m learning to speak Hebrew. I can’t speak fluent Hebrew, yet I can’t bake a cake from scratch yet. I don’t know how to launch online marketing ads from scratch yet. I don’t know how to drive a car yet. Any of these things that we can by adding the word yet to it. It’s just a simple one where we can start to catch mind chatter.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:52:44] It’s always really good for kids like, I can’t do this. I can’t do this math problem. To help them hold a growth mindset, we could say, you can’t do it yet. And what that conveys is that change is possible. So just in the same way that autonomy and agency is really important for motivation, for human basic needs, the belief that things can change, a sense of optimism for the future is also really important. So you want to be strategic around where you need this, but it’s just if you can catch where you start saying yourself, I don’t do this well enough or I can’t do this, it’s same to I’m not that kind of person. I’m not someone who can do that. I’m not like that person. Those are the types of thoughts that have this underlying mindset that may be more of a fixed mindset around, I’m not smart enough or I can’t do those things. And so just adding that yet at the end of it is a simple mindset chatter hack that takes something that would otherwise be a period. I don’t know how to do this period, and it just makes it a comma. It just opens up the keeps ourselves open to change is possible. Change is always happening, and that’s an important way to deal with that type of chatter, to get it to stop, to get it, to stop from it ruminating.


Jonathan Fields: [00:54:04] And that makes a lot of sense to me also, because what you’re talking about is acknowledging the reality of your current moment. You know, you’re not deluding yourself and say, oh yes, you can, when maybe you don’t have the skill yet. Maybe you don’t have the experience yet. Maybe you don’t have the resources or whatever it may be. So rather than asking you to step into some sort of delusional mode and say like, yes, I can, but everything inside of you is screaming, but you know, you really can’t. And the reality is that you can’t. It allows you to acknowledge the fact that in this very moment, maybe you’re not ready or you’re not equipped, or you don’t have what is needed to do the thing, but that means that’s just a snapshot. Like, that’s not the movie. That’s not the projection down the road. It allows you to acknowledge the fact that, okay, so this is my reality in the current moment, and there’s possibility on the other side of this. Like then you get to ask the questions, well, what skill would I need to acquire? What resources would I need. Yes. So that now you can put in, put yourself into this mode of instead of ruminating on I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. And then it goes to an identity level. I’m terrible. I’ll never, you know, now you’re like, I can’t. Okay, that’s the reality yet. So what would I need to make happen so that I could actually make this thing happen? So it puts you into this possibility mode rather than this shut down mode, which and it acknowledges your reality, rather than asking you to step into something that you know in your heart is not true, and just try and repeat it enough times so that, like you fake your way into making it, you know a truth which you will always know is actually not true. And that creates that cognitive dissonance which just you kind of know it’s not right. I love that simplicity. Talk to me about the final two types and how we handle them.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:55:45] And just to layer on to that, what you just said is you’re in doing that and staying solution focused and actually generating ideas around what you do. You’re actually using the chatter and the thoughts for what they’re trying to get you to do, but without knowing how to. They’re just on loop. It’s like they’re on loop to try to get you to take them and do something with them, but you don’t know how to take them down from the cloud and do something with them. So they just keep going. Whereas when you catch it, you start to become creative. Okay, well, what can I do about it? It’s. Opens up problem-solving, and at the end of the day, that’s what you want. You want that problem-solving. So the next one you actually just mentioned, it then becomes an identity. And when it becomes an identity, that identity, whether it be positive or negative, becomes some aspect of a judgment. So the next type of chatter is judgment. Chatter. Whether the judgment is positive or negative, it can still be a judgment. And so what is that form. What form does that take. This is chatter that starts with I’m so I always I’m she’s a he’s a he thinks she thinks it’s any time that we are judging ourselves, judging others or judging the situation. And that type of chatter, judgment chatter requires us to take our brain to court. Because when we can take on a positive identity that serves us like I am hard working, I figure things out.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:57:17] So in that case, that’s great. You’re hard-working. You don’t need to challenge that. But I’m not good enough is the kind of thought where I am. And then fill in the blank, oh, let me catch that. Well, how do I handle that? How do I get myself to stop thinking that you can just say, stop it, stop it? What’s wrong with you? You shouldn’t think that. Well, all that does is just makes you ignore it for a little bit until you’re trying to fall asleep at night and then pop. All the thoughts keep going again, but instead, we actually want to zap it. We actually want to transmute it. And that’s what the talkbacks do. And so we begin to say, okay, if my brain wants to judge myself, others, or the situation, I need to say, where is the evidence? Where is the evidence? What does it mean to be not good enough? We literally want to take our brain to court. So if you walked into a court of law and you were the defendant on a case and they said, you know, you stole the money, the judge would say, prove it. Where is the evidence? You don’t just you don’t just get away with these accusations. You have to back them up with evidence. So we start to look for evidence for or evidence against it.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [00:58:21] So actually be taking your brain really seriously. Starting to ask it. Can I know that to be certain where is that evidence. And then you can talk back to it. You literally can say that’s not true. Because or another way of seeing that is. So when I was healing for my eating disorder, I would catch my brain saying things like, you’re so fat, you’re so ugly, you’re so gross, you’re so this. And I would say, okay, that’s not true. Or another way of saying that is, I’m not feeling so great in my body right now, but I’m not these things. And so the talkbacks I’m not smart enough or they think, right, they think I’m an idiot. Well, can I know that to be certain? Can I actually know what they are thinking? No, actually I can’t. And so it’s like basically you’re saying to your brain, I’m not going to let you get away with that. And that process can just start with catching it any time you hear there are I’m a he thinks she thinks this is, you know, then you can catch it and you could say, can I know that to be certain or where is the evidence for that? And you start to challenge your brain and then we start to choose a better feeling, thought, choose a more useful thought, a thought that’s not constantly looping and reframing that perspective.


Jonathan Fields: [00:59:41] Now that makes so much sense. It’s really similar in a lot of ways to Byron. Katie’s the work where you’re really asking, like, is it right? Is it true? You know, like what? Show me the evidence. Um, and so often we never go there. Like, we just let our brain tell us that it is. And if it’s something that’s constructive and builds you up and like, actually, like, is positive in your life, cool. Like, I’ll roll with that. But when it’s taking you down. Yeah. I love the idea of taking it to court. Um, that makes so much sense to me. Which brings us to the final one, the final of the five.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [01:00:12] This final one, I think, is actually the crux of what you were asking about, about overthinking. Because this is regret chatter. So a lot of overthinking is actually regret chatter. This is when you just can’t let it go. And you’re the actual regret is I could have I should have what if I had? And so it’s the shoulda coulda woulda and what is it about? It is a part of you that’s still trying to get your attention to say you might have made a mistake, and what it’s putting you through is a replay of, well, what if you made a mistake? What if you made a mistake? What if you made a mistake? But it just sounds like different things. You know, I shouldn’t have written that. Or how are they going to receive that? So this is regret chatter and the talk. Back to regret chatter is really coming to peace with your past. It’s an element of self-forgiveness. So the talk back to it is I can’t change the past actually saying thank you brain. I hear you saying that I should have said this differently, but I can’t change the past. Here’s what I will do. You moving forward because the regret chatter is trying to get your attention so that next time you don’t do the same thing or you don’t do it similarly. And so being able to say thank you, the past is history.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [01:01:32] The best thing I can do for myself is hold on to the lesson and let the let the rest go. So even saying, what’s the lesson? What can I do? It can also sound like I wish I hadn’t or I can’t believe I. Those are places that if you can, if you hear the beginnings of those sentences, it’s very likely that you’re going to be on a loop. I can’t believe I did this. I’m such an idiot. So there you have. Regret. Chatter, judgment, chatter. What if they all think I’m a complete bozo? Worry. Chatter. Right. But you can start to catch them all together. But they start to now be familiar. And now they’re just parts of you coming together, feeling bad over things that right now you can’t change. But what you do have control over is can you learn the lessons and can you let go of the rest? So a lot of regret chatter is being at peace with your past. A lot of it is about forgiveness. One of my favorite definitions of forgiveness is letting go of hope for a different past. Right? The past is over. It’s already done. Hoping that the past could be different isn’t going to really help you. Catching the chatter and saying thank you brain somehow flagellating myself about this and beating myself up over it. Making myself hurt through my stress or feeling bad isn’t helping me.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [01:02:50] It’s not going to help me prevent this from happening in the future. What can I do differently? So I should have, I could have what if I had I wish I had it I can’t believe I that’s all form of of regret, chatter and talking back to it by coming to peace with it. That is done and I can’t do anything about it. But I can take the lessons. And in doing that, I embrace more of that growth mindset, that learner path thinking, all of which will make you more resilient. But without the ability to catch the thought, pull it down from the cloud, be like, uh, uh, I’m going to dissect you. I’m going to talk back to you. Then it feels like it’s just these thoughts are all swirling around, and they seem like they just happen without you being able to do anything about it, but actually learning how to talk back to them in real-time. What it does is it just it just shuts them up, especially when you take your brain to court. It’s like, all right, I guess I can’t get away with calling you a bozo anymore or an idiot, and it might show up in another form, and then you’ll say, thank you, and you quiet it down. And over time, it does shift the relationship to thoughts.


Jonathan Fields: [01:03:58] Yeah, that makes so much sense. I mean, the five different types and the interventions that are appropriate for each. But I do want to circle back to one phrase that you just said, which is sort of like catch it and pull it down from the cloud, because it seems like that’s sort of the meta-skill that binds all of them. Like before you can actually say, oh, like, which of the five is this? And then how do I talk back to it? How do I bring it to court? Like what is the appropriate response? You’ve got to first have the ability to sort of say, oh, this is happening. Let me pull it down so I can actually see what’s happening and then figure out what what’s appropriate. Is that right?


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [01:04:35] Absolutely. The starting place for all of this, the capacity to have your mind be controlling the chatter is to be able to be aware of your thinking. And this is actually one of the things that makes humans, the unique animals in the whole animal kingdom is that we have metacognition. We have the capacity to time travel in a way that other animals don’t. We can think about the past. We can be thinking about the future. So you could be walking down the street and one would think that you are actually there now, but it’s only your body that’s there now. Your mind has time traveled into the past or into the future, and the capacity to catch your thinking and to actually think about thinking that is that metacognition that makes us uniquely human. So that’s why I call this the most empowering, the most important skill that we all have the capacity to master. We’re just not being taught it. And many practices such as meditation and mindfulness, prepare you to be able to slow down your thoughts and to create the space to actually be the witness and hear them. And so that’s why meditation does make you a Jedi of your mind, so that you can start to hear those things, and then being proactive with them, sometimes just catching the thought and writing down the thought that you’re having it also is enough to make it go away. What I’m then giving you is like icing on the cake, because then you just like karate chop it up and it just no longer exists.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [01:06:03] But a lot of people find relief from the overthinking and from the ruminating just by writing it out, just by getting it out of their mind. And in many ways, that’s literally what we’re talking about with these thoughts are just they’re trying to get you to pay a. Don’t forget, don’t forget. You might mess up. Don’t forget people might judge you. Don’t forget, you might be ostracized, whatever that might be. And so when you write it down you’re like, okay, I got the memo. I’m not going to forget, but you turn off the alarm. Otherwise it’s just that beeping going on in the back and it depletes you, and it takes away from you being your fully vibrant self, or as happy or as excited or is energized as you could be, because literally your brain can weigh you down and it can also tire you out. Have you ever had that moment where you’re just like, I’m just so tired of thinking I’m so, just so tired of hearing this loop in my head. It’s like. It’s like as though you were a song, right? Like if some kid got some really annoying songs stuck in your head, you’d be like, I’m so tired of hearing that song, or your kids are learning a song on the violin and they’re just playing it over and over again, like, okay, okay, I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [01:07:12] Well, it’s like that, but it’s your own voice. And how do you make it stop? You make it stop by catching it, writing it down, working with it. And then if you want, you can then re-upload them back to the cloud. Changed with these new talkback sentences. I get to do my work. I get to figure this out. The most likely outcome is we would be okay and we’d figure it out. But then you put it back in the cloud and you’re being conscious of creating your reality, conscious of the thoughts that you want to be thinking and how you want to show up in the world. So if anyone wants to learn more about this mind over chatter approach and how to work with thoughts and get a few more skills, there’s other types of chatter that can also be considered. I call it sneaky chatter that you want to be aware of. I have a full course that I would love to gift to the Good Life Project community. It’s usually $120 course, but if you go to, you can get free access to the Mind over Chatter course, which will walk you through the whole process from start to finish, and has a bonus section on different types of sneaky thoughts that we didn’t get a chance to cover today.


Jonathan Fields: [01:08:21] Mm, so helpful. I’m going to start trying to really actively practice these things myself. It feels like a good place for us to come full circle in our conversation as well. So in this container of Good Life project, if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [01:08:40] To live a good life means to live a life of alignment, of who you are and what you feel like you’ve been put here to do. Surrounded by people that you love, that make you feel like you belong and that you matter. And with a vital health to be able to execute on that aligned purpose of what you’ve been put here to do, and to enjoy it with the people that matter most.


Jonathan Fields: [01:09:08] Thank you.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya: [01:09:09] Thanks for the question, I love that.


Jonathan Fields: [01:09:13] Hey, before you leave, if you love this episode Safe bet, you’ll also love the conversation we had with Ethan Kross about exploring chatter. You’ll find a link to Ethan’s episode in the show. Notes. This episode of Good Life Project. was produced by executive producers Lindsey Fox and Me. Jonathan Fields Editing help By Alejandro Ramirez. Kristoffer Carter crafted our theme music and special thanks to Shelley Adelle for her research on this episode. And of course, if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and follow Good Life Project. in your favorite listening app. And if you found this conversation interesting or inspiring or valuable, and chances are you did. Since you’re still listening here, would you do me a personal favor, a seven-second favor, and share it? Maybe on social or by text or by email? Even just with one person? Just copy the link from the app you’re using and tell those you know, those you love, those you want to help navigate this thing called life a little better so we can all do it better together with more ease and more joy. Tell them to listen, then even invite them to talk about what you’ve both discovered. Because when podcasts become conversations and conversations become action, that’s how we all come alive together. Until next time, I’m Jonathan Fields signing off for Good Life Project.

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