Ethan KrossArmchair Expert with Dax Shepard
- 1,598 views
- 18 Mar 2021
Ethan Kross (Chatter) is an experimental psychologist, neuroscientist and writer, who specializes in emotion regulation. Ethan joins the Armchair Expert to discuss the usefulness of your inner voice and how to harness it. Ethan explains how important context is when triggering emotions, how negative emotions are just as vital as positive ones, and the ways language can shape our emotional experiences. Ethan discusses how having the ability to feel the way we want all the time could be problematic and tips on how to be in the past and the future without being sucked in the chatter. In the fact check, Dax & Monica discuss the Royals.
Welcome, welcome, welcome to armchair expert experts on expert. I'm Nurse Dan Shepherd and I'm joined by Dr. Monica Padman.
This doctor, Monica padman the man the pad, the fat man.
I don't even feel comfortable saying this doctor about myself. It didn't even sound right. Didn't feel right. I hated it.
You've got to have your own. I'm this doctor, so maybe you could you be that doctor I know Dr. D is that doctor. That's true. That's true. What do you want to be a doctor.
Be the doctor. That doctor, doctor, us doctor.
That's all I need to mull it over. Doctors Doctor.
Oh, doctor's doctor. Yeah, I kind of like that. Joined by Monica Mou's. This doctor is doctor.
Oh, well, there isn't a lot of levels. Oh, Ethan Cross is our guest today.
And Ethan is an experimental psychologist, a neuroscientist and a writer who specializes in emotion regulation.
Do you know why this is a ding, ding, ding? I'm pretty sure he's a doctor. Oh, he must be Mosad. Dr. Ethan Cross Dawson say. Well, but no, it doesn't. But let's say worst case scenario, we call someone a doctor. That's not they'll never sue over that or be offended.
That's true. But we're about the facts.
But OK, I was in a hole rabbit hole in my head laying in bed two nights ago with this doctor thing. OK, I decided I don't like that you have to call doctors, doctor, like when you're just talking to them, like Mike like that, you've got to see doctor. So because can I make my case. I guarantee you're supportive of that, right?
What do you mean, medical doctor? Well, all the people say like Dr. Smith, Dr. Phone call for doctor, whoever, just when you talk to a doctor, you're supposed to call them doctor, whatever. You know that, right?
Yeah, I don't like it. It can I tell you why? Yeah, OK. It's just a weird status acknowledgement and albeit doctors are very noble people, but there are also many other occupations that are noble and you would never say like roofer John or lawyer Mike.
So there's a status thing you don't say, you just don't say it about any other occupations. So I'm a little true.
That's true. I'm sorry. And I've even bring that up on you because you're worthy of the title, if any is I just double checked.
It is in fact a doctor. OK, Dr. Ethan Cross is an experimental psychologist, a neuroscientist and a writer who specializes in emotion regulation. He has a really cool new book called Chatter The Voice in Our Head Why It Matters and How to Harness It. Now, we love this one because we have the loudest fucking racket going on upstairs here do at all times. Yes.
And I've used some of the techniques. I really like this. It's really worth trying. Yes.
And thank goodness there's some tools. You feel powerless over that racket or the chatter, as Dr. Ethan would say. So please enjoy Dr. Ethan Cross. We are supported by better help. If you're having trouble meeting your goals or difficulty with relationships or trouble sleeping or you're feeling stressed or depressed, better help is available. Better help offers online professional counselors who can listen and help simply fill out a questionnaire to assess your needs and better help will match you with your own licensed professional therapist.
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He's an outstanding. And then I bet Dr. Ethan Cross can see what's happening here and what's happening. He's got some Jordans there as well.
But what are these Jordans make you think of it?
Make me think of my childhood in Brooklyn.
OK, well, that's very fair. But there you have them colors. Oh, let me get it back up here. OK, very nice. Are we a go blue family?
I'm from Milford, Michigan, 20 miles up U.S.. Twenty three from you.
Well, you never know. Sometimes people have the audacity to like the green, those green colors, you know. Yeah.
My sister went there. I mean, I should be sympathetic to it. Yeah. So the two of you.
So we've got Michigan and then also Atlanta. My wife is from Atlanta. So this is like a whole family space part.
Sandy Springs. Oh, Sandy Springs. I'm from Duluth. Oh, OK. Do you know Sandy Spring. Yeah, of course. Is how close to you was it. It's not too far.
I would say probably 40 ish minutes away.
Do you want to tell the doctor about the Georgia Red Clay?
Well, if you must know, DACs defecated this morning and said it was resembled Georgia Red Clay.
I'm so sorry you had to hear that.
I thought it'd be a good icebreaker. There was an evacuation and it was undeniably Georgia Red Clay. Listen, I have two young daughters and they love legumes. So I'll just say, you want to go there, we could go there.
I mean, no worries. How old are your daughters? They are ten and six. OK, I've got six and seven.
So we're in a similar world. Similar world. And you're from Brooklyn. How do you feel about raising these girls in Ann Arbor? Are you excited about it or do you feel like they're missing out on the city experience?
I love it. I grew up in Brooklyn. I like to tell people terrible joke here.
Before it was cool, but I really mean that when I when I grew up there, it was like a pleasant place to live. I worked my butt off in school to leave and never come back. And so it gives me great delight that my daughters can, you know, walk to school and just hang out outside. I never had that kind of experience. So. So I love it. Yeah.
No, if you're going to be in Michigan, it's in the top three. I'd say areas you'd want to be Traverse City is pretty darn nice to live I think as well.
Oh yeah. I often think if U of M was in Traverse City with the water it would be perfect. It already is pretty close but it would be even nicer. No one thing. So I tell people like the peninsula, it's like there are vineyards up there. You feel like you're in France. I mean, it's beautiful. And yeah, people just look at me like I'm out of my mind. Like you drank the Kool-Aid. You're in Michigan now.
You know, you've lost touch with reality. But but you could back me up on that, right? It's pretty amazing. It's so good, Monica, because we kidnapped her and we forced her to vacation on Lake Michigan two summers ago. And then we brought we brought other Californians and they kept going like, I'm so confused. This is not the ocean.
I'm so confusing that it it was a lake. It was not a lake. It was an ocean with only lake.
Yeah, it's it's just it's remarkable. Yeah. It's a little little secret. So, you know, it would be nicer if they were better sushi and I'm sure more restaurants would be it would be fun, but otherwise we're pretty happy here.
Now we're going to eventually talk about one of our favorite topics, which is the racket in our heads. I guess that's what we say anyway. We call it we're fond of calling it the racket, but we're going to get into that internal monologue we all do or the dialogue or the inner voice. But before we do, I guess I'm curious, do you have theories on why you're interested in psychology? To begin with, you started at Penn as an undergrad and then Columbia PhD.
What was it about psychology that interested you?
Well, so my story goes way back to, you know, three years old because I had a dad who is an unconventional dad and it was not an academic who's a salesman. And from the time I was three, he would basically whenever something bad happened, he would encourage me to go inside. He told me, go inside, find the colonel. You know, Colonel, what colonel you talking about? But he's the, you know, get to the heart of the matter.
And so he basically encouraged me from the time I was really young to introspect when anything bad happened. And I listen to my dad and his lessons served me well for much of my childhood and adolescence. When, you know, I asked my crush out in high school and she said, no, I introspected, I moved on. I didn't get stuck. And I figured it out, you know, so forth and so on. And so so I was really good at managing myself.
Yeah. This was this was a tool I relied on.
Then I got to Penn. Can I pause you really quick? Yeah, please. Just because I had a car salesman, Dad, and I'm so now jealous because my father was like, if you are, let's say the crush. If that didn't go your way. You try to sleep with her best friend, that would have been my dad's advice, you know, go buy something or go go do something flashy. So I'm a little jealous. Bad advice, no garcelon advice.
Well, you know, it's all a matter of perspective what you get for your fifth birthday from your dad.
Oh, no, no, no.
What did your dad get you when you were five? He got me a mantra. Get the fuck out of here. Yeah. Yeah.
He took me to Transcendental Meditation Center in New York City. And, you know, I was hoping for a bicycle or the next transformer. And so sure that didn't happen. And so my buddies are hanging out and and I'm learning about meditation.
And even the worst part is you're not allowed to share your mantra with anyone. I hate that you can't even tell your buddies what you got. You can only be vague.
It speaks to how formative that experience was. I still I don't think I've ever told someone what my mantra is, even though it's it's silly, but I like imprinted on that.
Yeah. I think I have to tell my wife first. Oh yeah.
I've been trying to get everyone to tell me their mantras for years.
And then David Walton tell us his. Yes he did.
He loves me the most. Yeah. He because he got suspicious that everyone has the same one because he found out he and his buddy were given the same one and then he and they tried to go to a third guy and he wouldn't tell them. And I said, look, here's what I'll do. You tell me yours. And if it's the same, I'll admit it is. And thank God it wasn't, because I started to get a little suspicious that it's all the same mantra as well.
So, yeah, I mean, he was an interesting character, my dad.
What forced him to be that way? These things don't happen on their own, do they?
You know, my dad, you know, not a college grad, but was always fascinated by Eastern philosophy and the Beatles and that whole movement back in the 60s and 70s.
And so to his credit and one thing I really am really grateful for, like he would talk to me like I was an adult from the time I was a little kid. And that was really, you know, sometimes I would prefer to talk about, like, the Yankees. Yeah. Or GI Joe.
But but I mean, those early conversations really did leave their mark. So it's an interesting upbringing.
OK, great. I was going to say this to the end because we both have daughters, but I'm going to say it right now because it's so appropriate, which is. Yeah. So I talk to my kids like they're my age, like their peers. And I sometimes wonder, like, I guess I'm trying to understand the limits of their capacity. I am trying at all times to convey what a four step is. And a you know, it's like you're mad at Joe.
Why are you mad at Joe? He tries to get me fired. You know, how does that affect you? Well, it affects my financial security, this, that and the other thing. And what role do I play in that? Well, if I weren't late, Joe would have nothing to say to my boss.
So, you know, all this I'm trying to get them to work through their resentments. I'm trying to help them see that most of their feelings are really coming from a fear that they would be helpful to identify. And then I'm confronted with the idea that, like, this is all going over their head. This is a waste of their time. Is this is this the right course of action? So how do you do it with your daughters?
First of all, I don't think it's a waste of time. I think it's great. There's some theories out there that suggest that you want to push kids always have them reaching for a little bit more outside their comfort zone. By way of analogy, when I was on the wrestling team, I always used to wrestle in practice with the guy who was two weight classes above me. And so I often think about talking to my kids the same way. Right.
So I realized that. Now, when I talk about mechanisms and the prefrontal cortex, they may not really it may not sink in, but the more I talk about it, the more they surprise me.
I mean, you know, and so I do enjoy going for walks and just kind of sharing what's going on in my world. And sometimes I like it. And other times they say this is as my youngest daughter would say, this is boring, Daddy.
OK, so your specialization in psychology is emotion regulation, which is something that I'm deeply interested in and fascinated by. And I got to say, Monica and I have many, many debates. This is a great topic for Monica and I because I'm wrong often. Let me just start by saying I'm wrong often, but in general, I have kind of a blanket view, which is the world is kind of a nerd as much as it feels like it's not.
It is just constant. Right. So traffic is a reality. Bosses are really all this stuff is a reality. And that is the variable in the equation that is unchangeable. So I'm left with the only variable in the equation I have any say over is myself. So I strive to not react to things or to be a slave to these things or get emotional all the time. And sometimes our debates are about, you know, someone can't really make you feel bad, like you can allow someone to make you feel bad, you know.
And by the way, it has been pointed out that I'm wrong. We were watching this great documentary, I hope you watched it about Keith Ranieri, The Vow. And it can be taken to an extreme right where you never have a right to say someone's attacking you outright, which, of course, they are. So I think in the extreme, but just in general, I do think. We have maybe more control than we think we have over how we feel and respond to things, what's kind of your blanket thought about that?
Yeah, I think we have enormous control over how we react to the world. And I think step one is simply being aware of the fact that you can change the way you think to change the way you feel. I think that's a game changing idea for a lot of people. I mean, that's something that I talked to my kids about quite a bit, like when my daughters are having temper tantrums, particularly the older one, not that she has more temper tantrums.
If she heard me say that, I'd be in trouble. But, you know, she's at a point where I could talk to her and explain like you feel a certain way. What if we thought about it differently? What if we reframed it and those kinds of reframing? I mean, that's a lot of what we do in our lab. Like when we get really upset at things, we tend to zoom in super, super narrowly on the problem at hand to the exclusion of everything else.
Right. We're just narrowed and oh my God, what if I don't know what I'm going to do? Can you believe he said that and. We could zoom out and when we zoom out, we get more perspective, and that can often be really, really useful. Yeah, and I don't think it implicitly is a denial of feelings. Like sometimes I hear a reaction to my point of view as being like I'm asking people to deny how they feel when in fact, I think I'm more going like, go ahead and feel that like you're allowed to experience it and feel it.
And then I think it's time to work through it mentally.
I mean, what you're describing, I hope it's not wrong because it is about 20 years of what I do is towards that idea. And so I'm not taking any sides here. I just want to say I'm just telling you how I think about this.
I don't disagree with that. I disagree sometimes with him saying people can't make you feel a certain way. I think people can attempt to make I don't think we live in pods and in vacuums. And I think if you try to actually that's to your detriment and that you should be taking in other people's you know, whatever they're giving you. I mean, doesn't mean you have to feel it all, but I don't know. I just don't think we live, in fact.
Well, this is this is the perfect scenario here because I can extract an agreement with both of you here. So, you know, I like to use the word harness to talk about how we could harness our reactions. And oftentimes other people can instigate certain emotional responses in us. Right. Like if someone says something to me, that's the wrong thing. It's automatically going to elicit a response. And as much as I want to prevent that, I'm not going to be able to.
And you probably if you're thinking about how people work, you probably wouldn't want to make it so that you could perfectly control your emotions because emotions are functional like negativity. We often hear nowadays I want to live a life without any negativity. I would not endorse that right. Negativity in small doses is elegantly adaptive, like when I get a little pinch of anxiety a week before I have to give a high stakes talk. That's a good thing. That means I'm not watching football and basketball and doing, you know, work.
It means. All right, Ethan, time to get to it. So negativity can be good. But when the emotions get too big and stay for too long a period of time, that's when things get problematic. And that's where our ability to control comes into play because we can rein in that response and we can move it around. And that is a really useful skill.
I think I can give an example of what I mean generally when I'm bumping up against this, when we have this argument. I guess my point is I start from a place where you're tempted to say this person objectively wanted to hurt my feelings. And I agree with that. People do objectively try to hurt other people's feelings. But here's where I think your own personal role comes into play. If you walk by a homeless person on the street and they look up at you and they say you're a fucking loser, it does not impact you.
You do not care because you don't seek their approval. And now if someone you look up to, let's say we were interviewing someone that Monica loved historically and they said, you're a fucking loser, it would be crushing. Now, both people tried to hurt you, but one has status and one doesn't. You want approval from one person and not the other. So for me, once I recognize that it is that subjective, whether or not I'm going to care and it's my own desire to get approval from people, status or people I love, whatever it is, that's to me where your control comes from.
Or at least you have to acknowledge it's actually not objective.
Mm hmm. Well, I think what I hear you saying is when our self is on the line, so to speak. Right. Like when something is said that actually impacts us, makes us feel vulnerable, that's when we're going to experience that emotional response. Totally. So not everyone. You know, I gave a presentation to my kids class a couple of years ago, and one of the kids just said, this is boring. And so I said, well, that's not nice.
No more talking for you, but I didn't lose sleep over it. Now, I might lose sleep in another context. Right. So whether you're on the line can make a difference in terms of whether the emotion is triggered. We're not a simple species like it's hard to predict. What's going to trip you up is different from what's going to trip you up. Monica, like our triggers are different, but once the emotion is triggered, the tools we can use are similar.
OK, let me go one step further. I guess what I see the solution as and again, I'm very brainwashed by 17 years in AA, so factor that in. But I guess when I'm tempted to say is if whatever thing that triggered you, if you treated that yourself. Right. So if I have a set of definitions that says I'm not a loser and I personally meet them and I actually decide that I have accomplished that and I don't have a fear that I'm not a loser, I believe.
No one's comment could have an effect on me. But it should because it shouldn't have an effect on you emotionally, but it tells you something about your relationship to that person, it tells you something about that person for sure. That person might be trying to manipulate you. That person might you know, it's important to take in what other people are saying so you can assess an entire relationship situation.
I totally agree. But if I'm in a place emotionally where I'm like, well, I'm not a loser, you know, it's like the example I always use is someone calls me short. I'm just I'm six two. I'm not sure it doesn't trigger any fear of mine. So when you just triggered me text. Oh, well, five seven. So thanks a lot. That makes sense. And I apologize. But I guess my point is if someone says to me, you're very short, my first thought is why would that person say that?
What is their agenda? What is their objective? What thing are they dealing with? Which in general I think is a good way to be thinking about these interactions. It's like all the things we say really say more about ourselves than the person we're addressing in many ways. Great example. I'm talking too much, but don't worry, I'm going to really turn it over. But we had Justin Timberlake on yesterday and I looked at the comments and every other comment is about how clearly in love Monica is with Justin Timberlake.
Well, look. Yes, yes. Oh, wow. And what what I glean from that is those people are in love with Justin Timberlake. And if they were staring at it, I would argue her face is pretty neutral to what it is in most photographs. She's definitely smiling, but I think she smiles and others. And I was just like, that is that's a straight projection. Like I would be in love staring at them. And so I'm pretty sure that's what I see on Monica's face.
I mean, people do project. But let's go back to I mean, I don't think you're saying that you're incapable of being hurt, right?
Not at all. I get hurt all the time. I'm super sensitive. Right.
And so so, you know, your triggers may be different. Like the loser comment. It seems to me like you're confident that you're not a loser. And if someone says that, you know, screw you, I'm not a loser and I know that. But let's switch gears. Like, imagine someone who you care about deeply. You said you were a shitty parent that might tweak you. I mean, that would let's say I'm working real hard.
And, you know, my wife says you're not being a good father. That would really, really offend me like that would hurt. So I think our triggers can be different.
There are a hundred and fifty things you could say that I have a fear about or that I do feel incomplete in that would send me reeling. That's what I'm arguing, that that's my work to do. So I could somehow either confront the fact that I'm not a great dad and become a great dad so that that doesn't affect me or, you know, I just think it's an internal job. Ultimately, I think if you had real self-esteem across the board, all these comments would have no impact.
Well, I don't know.
I don't know if I agree that if you take that argument to an extreme, that would suggest that you would never, never get offended by anything.
Yeah, kind of sociopathic, like you're living in your own space and nothing affects you, like you want to be affected by the world and then handle it. And I'm definitely not suggesting that you don't handle it after you feel the feeling, but you should be taking in feelings and feedback from your community.
I agree. Or a social animal. And this is how we help each other be good animals. But what I'm saying is you can imagine a state where you confront every one of those things that would have affected you. You're a loser, you're a bad parent, and you actually demonstrate that you're no longer that thing. There is an imaginable state where you've actually done all that work. Somehow you have 80 hours in the day and you can become this person that really is impenetrable to that because you've done the work.
Sure. I mean, you can make the argument that there's an emotional ideal that is homeostatic. You just stick to a baseline, you don't go up or down. You just go about living your life. And in some ways, that's the eastern ideal. I have yet to see a living, breathing human that conforms to that ideal. So, well, I've seen it, but they have to be in complete isolation. They're going to interact with other humans.
It's almost impossible. It's it's hard.
And so, you know, it's almost like working against the machine, that ideal. We are built to experience emotion. And I'm a proponent of the idea that emotions are are useful, both the good ones and the bad ones, as I was saying before. And so I wouldn't want to live a life without the ability to experience both kinds of states.
Clearly, I like the good ones better.
I mean, you know, most people do. But the negative ones also, I think, are vital to my ability to succeed and be effective and and be a good dad. Like, I need to know that when I see something that maybe does offend you. Or not, you may be Monica, like if I see the facial expression on your face that suggests I may have hurt your feelings, I need to get the feedback that, oh, I'm sorry.
Like, yeah, I'm really sorry. I did I didn't mean to like I say things, you know, I offend people. I don't mean to, but I get feedback. It's negative, and then I adjust my behavior. And so emotions are signals really important for me. I think the big challenge that I try to look at in the lab and really in my own life is how can we make our emotions work for us both the good and the bad ones rather than take over, which we see happening quite a bit.
Yeah, and by the way, even in my weird utopian thing, I just pitched you guys that neither of you are buying into, I definitely I still see a well of emotions being someone shares with me not what's broken with me, but they share with me. When you do this, I feel this way. And then I feel terrible because I do not intend to make the person feel that way. And then I adjust my behavior accordingly. Yeah.
So what I'm hearing from you is that you're what we would call low on rejection sensitivity. So you're less sensitive to being rejected than maybe others. But that doesn't mean you can experience other kinds of negative emotions like anger or sadness or, you know, plug in your favorite one.
Stay tuned for more armchair expert, if you dare.
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OK, so your book chatter the voice in Our Head, Why it matters and How to harness it, the voice in our head. Holy smokes. Monica and I both as well. This is one is one of the foundational connections between us is awesome.
There is a trial going on at all times in our heads. We are horrendously introspective. Were we?
I'm an obsessive thinker. I think Monica would say she is too. We build cases, we lose objectivity. We're so busy.
We're meant for each other, the three of us, to share and join the crew. But this is this this is what the book is about. And this is what I've spent the last 20 years studying. So if we just go back early part of life, dad, introspect. It's the utopian ideal. Know thyself. Right, look inward. Fast forward. I get to college. I take my first psychology class and halfway through the semester we turn to introspection and I'm like, you know, the equivalent of rolling up my sleeves.
Here we go. You know, let me show you how it works.
And lo and behold, what I learn is that there's a lot of science on this and a great deal of it shows that it shows the exact opposite of what I learned growing up, which is a lot of people, a lot of the time when they introspect, when bad things are happening, they end up getting stuck. Negative thought loops, what I call chatter, rumination, worrying, catastrophizing. You know, choose your favorite description, the negative roommate in your head, the itty bitty shitty committee.
Right. Like my hands are taking over in awful ways. And so for me, this this became a giant puzzle that I became fascinated by. And I've been studying for past twenty years, which is why is it that in some cases we can benefit from introspection, like introspection is an amazing, amazing tool. It's what allows us to problem solve, to innovate, to create. And it is the basis, I would argue, of like why our species is so effective.
A lot of people, myself included, think that this is the key evolutionary advance that distinguishes us from other animals, like. Yeah, crazy. Yeah. So let's go through the utility first. Like, let's just I mean, there's a couple of things that probably are obvious to many people and then maybe some other people haven't even considered. First and foremost, we think in whatever language we speak or you'll sometimes meet bilingual people. Right. And they'll say they think in Spanish, but whatever it is.
But just the notion that I am thinking in the English confines me to a very specific culture, which in and of itself is fascinating. Right. Because culture is highly persuasive and it is a structure and we're confined by that even inside our heads in ways. Right. So can you talk about that phenomena that that that we think in language so we can think in language or images.
And sometimes we think in like, you know, I'm regularly now fantasizing about the next beach vacation whenever that happens. And we can leave quarantine. Right. So I can see myself on the beach with a pina colada, suntan lotion. You know, I can I can do that. But we also spent a lot of time thinking and words. And we do think in our native language there's some actually interesting research on thinking in a foreign language. I don't want to get too far too much of a detour, but emotions have less impact.
When you think about an emotional experience in a foreign language, it has less resonance, like cursing in a foreign language doesn't feel as bad as cursing in your native language. And the reason is when we're growing and developing, we're processing the world through our native tongue. Right. So emotions these you know, when you're first learning the curse words like you learn them in your native language, you don't quite have the same zip when they're in a foreign language, which, you know, is you could play with that sometimes the next time you're upset.
No, it's true.
I'll say I'll say all the time instead of shit. And it's it's just cute, even if I know I mean it in German. Yeah. Yeah. I'm not going to tell you the words I use in another language, but I have a job that could be.
But we'll have a different conversation when you're tenured. Are you tenured. I'm tenured. I'm still your session with you. That's why your tenured you know the right decisions to make.
Well, you know, here's an interesting, interesting tidbit. Maybe we get to at some point, you know, social media is really interesting with respect to the inner voice because it provides us with a ginormous megaphone for what's going on in our head. Like Facebook says, like what's on your mind? Just put it out there. And some people are obliging that request and just sharing. And I often I tell people that I wouldn't want anyone to have a live feed into what's going on in here.
All the time, I'm really happy with that being a private experience that I can to some degree curate what comes out of my mouth. Yeah. You know, so, yeah, editing is good.
And so going back to what the inner voice does for us, I think of it as a Swiss Army knife of the mind.
It does a lot of different things. One of the things it does is it does help us edit our life stories like we narrate our experiences. We're constantly creating stories to help us understand who we are. And the inner voice helps us do it. Yeah, it also helps us simulate and plan. So, you know, if I'm prepping for an interview, I can think, OK, know, Monica is going to say this and then I'm going to respond this way and then she's going to respond this way, like so we often do that little relation with ourselves, roleplay internally in our head.
Right. And then at the totally other end of the spectrum, the inner voices is is helping us do things as simple as just keep things in mind. Like if I asked you to memorize a phone number repeated in your head, that's your inner voice. Two oh nine oh.
You know, so so it helps us do a ton of things, but it can also get us into deep trouble, which is what I spend most of the time studying.
OK, so really quick, just so I can put a pin in the language thing, I got curious, since you would know this, do you find that because language does vary, the lexicon is different. We have words for things that other cultures don't and vice versa. And it gives us I was an anthropology major. It gives us a sense of what they value. Does the language you think can potentially have an impact on your overall happiness or mental health?
And specifically, we always read Sweden and Finland. These these Norwegian countries are always highest on the unhappiness scale and the metrics are always, you know, standard of living, all these other things. But I wonder, is anyone even considered part of it is the language that's in their head?
Yeah, it's a great question. So language can shape our emotional experiences. And in fact, we've done a lot of work showing that there are some quirky linguistic jujitsu moves that you can use to harness your inner voice. But as to whether cross-cultural differences in language put people on to different emotional trajectories, I'm not sure of research that speaks to that specifically. There's certainly there's some cultures that have words for emotions that other cultures don't. And that's really fascinating.
Right, because there are certain experiences that certain groups of people are having, presumably that they have a word to describe that other cultures are not.
We have a new show with Wendy Mogel, who's a family therapist, and she also does a lot of stuff in linguistics. So for that show, each episode, she presents a word in a different language that we don't have that word in English is a Japanese word where you're unhappy with your haircut right after you get it. You know, and it's kind of funny because we do all have we know that emotion, but some cultures put a don't monaca don't don't project.
I don't know if you love your hair, but I just see that.
Yeah, like, some cultures put words to things that others don't. And that's so fascinating.
Well, we'll have to fact check this. But again, I can't remember I learned this in school or this is just apocryphal that also and in know way, there's no word for jealousy. And that would be if that's true, which will fact check. Yeah, that would be a really phenomenal idea, that there would be a culture that doesn't even need a word for jealousy.
Yeah, I don't I don't know. There are definitely studies that have looked at some of these comparing different cultural groups on these specific emotions and find some inconsistencies. On the whole, I think a lot of the emotions that are that are common to us are expressed linguistically in different cultures. It's funny you're reminding me one of the first studies I did, which actually I tell the story of the study in the book because it ended up being an inner voice escapade for me with a kind of death threat that was not for an academic.
That's not that unusual. But we did a study where a lot of people had noted that in cultures around the world, different cultures use the same words to describe the experience of of being rejected, which is the language of physical pain.
Right. They describe how they feel when they're rejected as my feelings hurt pain.
And so we did a study where we we looked at whether what's happening in your brain is similar when you're experiencing social rejection versus physical pain. So we brought people into the brain scanner. This was back in New York City. We recruited people who had just been dumped in a monogamous romantic relationship. Turns out New York City, it was really easy to find. Yeah. People. Yeah, sure. And we had them bring a picture of the person who dumped them.
This sounds. Terrible, right, like we're not trying to make people feel awful for the sake of it, we're trying to learn something for science. I don't care what you did. Let's hear it now. OK, so so we show them the picture of the person who dumped them. And as they look at that person, they're supposed to think and how they felt when they said, I don't love you anymore, it hurts. It's not pleasant to look at that person.
And on another part of the study, we put a little probe metal probe on their forearm that heated up to a hot temperature, to be clear, crystal clear. I'm going to talk slower now to give the disclaimer this is not burning someone.
This is like holding a hot cup of coffee without the protective sleeve. So it's aversive but tolerable. And we found basically overlap in physical pain circuitry in the brain. So there's a fun little study that someone then sent me a death threat for fun.
Again, it says a lot more about that person. OK, so is that inner voice? Is that that's frontal lobe business?
Well, there are language centers in the brain, but it's also distributed. So 15 years ago, we tended to talk about the brain in terms of specific spots, whereas now we're talking in terms of patterns across the brain networks. And so there's a language network and there's certainly a frontal component to that.
Because one thing that was fascinating and I listened to you on another podcast about psychology, and I guess there was a tweet, I never read it, but there was some tweet that caused a bit of. Yes, yeah, it went viral and it was basically people weighing in on whether or not they have an internal monologue going, and to be honest, I was shocked anyone would have said that they don't. I would have assumed we're all imprisoned with all these thoughts.
Well, you know, this is why I think thinking in terms of the inner voice isn't one thing. It does a lot of different things for us is really useful for addressing that debate. You know, do some people report not having, like, a monologue stream through their heads? Yeah, there are people who report that they're thinking in terms of images more. You know, most of the time, however, if their brains are properly functioning, they still possess, like, the capacity to think in words like.
So the ability to repeat a number in your head or repeat a word silently, that is a basic feature of a well working brain that's called verbal working memory. It's part of the architecture that supports how human beings navigate the world. So we all possess that capacity. Now, whether we use language silently to do other things like reflect on our problems and work through them. Yeah, I think you do have a lot more variability there. And my sense is that that whole debate was about at that upper end of the spectrum, some people just report not having the the stream that we see depicted in the movies where like the constant commentary.
Right. OK, I probably wrongly or erroneously believe the objective would be to get rid of those voices. And I assume you're going to make a case for why they shouldn't be. I guess I can I fantasize about a state of being or I'm just aware of my current surroundings and I'm present and I'm not writing the fucking story of my life that no one's going to read. That seems pleasurable, but that's not the desired state.
I would say it's not the desired state. So there's actually I tell a story in chatter about a neuroanatomist who had a stroke and lost her her language, her linguistic facilities were wiped out, essentially. And she initially describes that state as one of utter bliss for precisely the reasons that you're describing tax write like, oh, God, no more nagging all the time, no more overthinking.
But then she goes on to describe how without those voices, she also lost her sense of who she was. Your identity and her ability to do basic things like plan and simulate was also lost. And so I think that is unique proof for just how vital this voice is. And I think the goal should be not to silence it, but to harness it. Right. So to figure out how to make it constructive, how to make it more, you know, supportive, more coach like we do studies on that.
How do you how do you motivate yourself? Come on, man, get your act together. And so I think that's the challenge.
And what's really to me, a bit of a mind blower is that there are tools that we have evolved to possess all around us and things we could do it by ourself, ways of talking to other people and even ways of navigating the world around us that allow us to harness this conversation. And that's been really exciting to study.
So when we want to harness it, what are we trying to downsize and what are we trying to nurture?
So we're trying to reduce the chatter and the chatter is the zooming in really narrowly on a problem and then getting stuck spinning over and over and over in ways that are ultimately dysfunctional and destructive, that get in the way of you doing your job optimally, that create friction in your relationships and chatter that can, you know, undermine your your physical health. Right? Yeah, we're built to experience stress. Stress becomes a bad thing when you experience stress and then you keep experiencing over time.
We are very well equipped to maintain that stress response because we just keep replaying the negativity over and over and over. And that leads to the kind of wear and tear on our body that's not not so good for longevity.
And so when you talk about zooming out, what are the mechanics of that or what is a literal example you could give us of how one should attempt to zoom out?
Sure. So there are lots of different ways you could zoom out. One way to do it is something called temporal distancing or mental time travel. And I actually use this a lot when it comes to covid. Right. I try not to focus on what's happening right now and how awful it is. And I think. All right, how am I going to feel nine months from now? Twelve months from now when I'm vaccinated, when most of the country is and when the ship is right and we're back on path?
What that does psychologically is it highlights the fact that what we're going through right now is not permanent.
It's temporary. Oh, yeah. That gives us hope. And hope is really. Really good for silencing those chattery inner voices, so that's one way of broadening the perspective and not thinking just narrowly about what's happening now, I'm looking at the bigger picture. You can also go back in time, right? Like let's think back to a hundred years ago. We had a terrible pandemic. But guess what? We're all alive right now sitting here. We made it through that.
We endured it. We grew and we will do it again. So that's one technique.
That's my personal mantra. I just want to say is and I've said it on here before, my personal mantra is this is only temporary. This is only temporary. This is only when I'm really caught in a dark blue mood. I just I just try to remember all the time that it's temporary and it's powerful.
That's actually one of the defining features of wisdom. So we've studied wisdom's like what does it mean to be wise, to be wise? There are a couple of features. One of the things you want to do is be able to recognize that the world is constantly changing. It's constantly in flux. Another thing you want to be able to do is recognize that the limits of your own knowledge, like I don't know everything, I can't possibly know everything. It's another feature.
So that's one zoom out technique. Let me tell you about another one that is fun. And I rely on it a lot. It's called Distance Self Talk, and it involves coaching yourself through a problem, using your own name, like you're talking to someone else. Oh, wow. Silently in your head, of course. And so here's the back story on this and how this works. We know that we are much better at advising other people on their problems than we are ourselves.
But I mean, have you ever had a situation where someone comes to you? They're there ruminating, they're anxious. They don't know what to do. They present the situation to you. And, hey, no problem. This is what have you ever have that experience? Oh, yeah.
Daily I sponsor guys and I hear myself giving them advice that I need to follow and I just fucking can't do it. I know, you know, I can easily tell them what would make their life easy. And yet I'm like, wow, you just can't do that for yourself.
There's a name for this. It's called Solomon's Paradox. It's named after the Bible's King Solomon, who was famously adept at giving advice like he's known as the Wise King. But when it came to his own life, he had like a hundred concubines and it ultimately he built them all shrines and temples and it got very messy and it ultimately led to his kingdom's demise. Right. So, oh, boy, this is fundamental. And so what what's really cool about distance self talk is we're using language as a tool, right?
We usually use names when we talk about other people. So when you use a name to talk to yourself, it's like a psychological jujitsu move, right?
It's it's changing your perspective really fast, automatically. And it's all right, Ethan. Here's what we need to do. And so that's another tool with a caveat that I don't endorse doing that out loud and in public, silently try to coach yourself through a problem using your name. We find that that actually also gives people objectivity, makes it easier to to think through problems in an adaptive way.
Now, in the book, you profile some top athletes and some Fortune 500 executives. And I'm curious what tools or techniques or strategies or methodologies you found that they employ that we could all benefit from a distance of talks, one that I talk about.
Malala Yousafzai and LeBron using another fun example comes from Rafael Nadal, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, who, you know, I think it was in his autobiography, he he wrote something to the effect of the hardest thing I do in a tennis match is I try to control the voices in my head, which to me is astounding. Right. So here you have a guy who is competing against the best athletes in the world on the greatest stages in the world.
He's not worried about how fit they are, how good their backhand is, his endurance. He's worried about the conversation he's having with himself on the court.
And so what is he what does he do to do this? He does something that often elicits, you know, raised eyebrows and ridicule. So he engages in these, like, elaborate rituals. So if you watch Nadal, you'll see he always walks onto the court carrying a tennis racquet in one hand.
And then when he gets to his bench, he turns to the crowd. He unzips his jacket as he's bouncing on both feet. Then he carefully takes out his two water bottles and positions them on a diagonal one to one to. Then when he's playing, he twirls his hair a few times, looks like he's picking his butt before every serve. He's engaging in a ritual and what he's essentially doing, rituals are highly structured activities. Right. And he's got control.
So he's controlling himself and his environment to compensate for the lack of control that he feels in his head. So it turns out a lot of people do this and science shows that it can be useful when we're experiencing chatter, try to order our surroundings or engage in a ritual to help us in those circumstances. And I'll just say that when I was writing this book, I did something along these lines, which was very typical for me because I'm not the most organized, neat person.
It's you know, it's a constant issue in my relationship, the clothes all over the floor, piles of books in my office. But when I was struggling with a paragraph or a chapter, I'd go to the kitchen. I wash all the pots and pans and I neatly put them away. And that was something inside me telling me to, hey, let's try to fix what's happening in here by turning to the world around us. And so so that's another fun tool that people use.
Yeah. So we've interviewed a couple of really successful athletes. And I want to say Tom Brady was telling us about his kind of ritual before a game. For all those reasons, let's control all the things we can up to the moment it all starts. And yet we were also interviewing a Formula One driver, Daniel Ricardo, and he said, I'm against those because what inevitably happens is a part of your ritual can't be performed. And now you have a built in excuse to not do your job the way you should, you know?
And so it's just kind of interesting, I guess I would imagine you'd agree with this is like knowing your own predilections is helpful to like, are you the type of person that that's going to be super productive or are you the type person that's going to build an excuse off that?
Well, so I'm I'm glad you brought this up. I mean, I'm a big proponent and the idea that there are no magic pills and no magic tools. And so, you know, what I advocate is is a is a toolbox approach to managing the mind where let's say there are 20 or so science based tools are likely more. I think the challenge is to figure out what are the combinations of tools that work best for you as a unique individual facing unique stresses in your life, figuring out what those combinations are, blends of tools are.
That's, I think, the really important challenge that that we all face.
And could you give people like, if possible, could you approach a definition so we know when you're having constructive self talk and when you're veering into rumination, like how do people delineate the difference between that?
There is no very sensitive Apple Watch detectable red line that says, OK, you know, I'm in the chatter zone. It'd be cool if there were. Yeah, but, you know, I think subjectively, when you find that your thoughts are getting in the way of you thinking and feeling and behaving optimally, like that's a good cue to suggest I may be experiencing unproductive chatter. So in other words, if I'm trying to read a book and I read five pages and I realize, oh man, I just read five pages, I don't remember anything.
I just read because I was thinking about this problem writing.
That's not a good thing when your job is to read for a living or you know, if I'm supposed to be performing well in a high stakes situation, a big talk, thousands of people and I can't get the words out of my mouth because I'm so worried about what everyone's thinking like. That's a cue that your mind's taking over in an unhealthy way.
So I think it's often apparent when the unproductive chatter strikes, you know, I'm going to just admit to one thing, which is I have these kind of hard, fast thoughts about how one should evaluate why they're triggered by things, evaluate what things are having an impact on them emotionally, and then found myself in a couple of unique situations over quarantine. One, I relapsed on opiates, so I was fucked up on opiates. And then I was detoxing from them and I recognized in that state.
Oh, man, you know, you're kind of underestimating the impact of your biochemistry and how that changes and these things that the tools that I was able to access normally were just so elusive to me. I also took an arthritis medicine at one point, didn't read any of the side effects, came to find out depression was one of them. And then in that state finally going like, oh, I'm not enjoying interacting with my children like I always have.
This is curious. Your chemistry man. It's a big part of this, isn't it? I try to sometimes look at people and go, oh, man, they're probably chemically feeling how I did when it's you can almost not climb out of that.
There's no question that it's all it's all integrated and connected. Right. So so the brain is influencing our biochemistry, which in turn is having implications for our emotions. What we're learning is that I mean by thinking you can change how your brain responds, which in turn can have an implication on that neurochemistry research on placebos here, as I think super fascinating.
Right. Like this idea that I can give you a sugar pill for depression or anxiety and for not all cases, but many cases like, if you believe me, that this pill is going to make you feel better, it has an effect like the adaptive effect like this to me is another mindblower. What that means to me is that we possess the capacity to change the way we feel and quite astounding ways. Yeah, but we often have to like back door into that capacity.
It's not fully under our control. There are like safeguards that prevent us from unleashing that capacity, self-doubt, maybe insecurity. But if a trusted person says, DACs, you are going to do OK, you will be better take this pill, then that effect comes to fruition. You know that that speaks to, I think, the work that science has to do to figure out why we don't have more control over ourselves.
Yeah, I totally agree with you on that. And we've had several different scientists that have pointed out. The placebo is is real, like I think we all have this notion of what placebo is, oh, they give you a fake pill and you but they've all pointed out the result is real or it doesn't really matter what the cause is. The result is measurable and real.
So, I mean, like so let's think about like, why would it make sense for us to have these limitations on our ability to feel the way we want all the time? Because that's what we're really talking about, right? Like if we have the ability to rethink how we feel, no more depression, no more anxiety, no more anger.
Right. Yeah, that could be problematic if you think about it, because we know that people are motivated to approach pleasure and avoid pain. The reason negative emotions are useful is because they feel really bad. We pay attention to them because we don't want to feel that way. So there are people who are born just by way of example, with a genetic condition that makes it impossible for them to experience physical pain. Like in writable. Yeah, yeah.
And you know what happens to them. Yeah. They get really hurt and die.
Exactly. Yeah, exactly.
So so that's what we're talking about. So it's kind of a catch. Twenty two here, right. We possess the ability to feel less bad. But if you're, if you're in charge of creating something, I don't know that you want to give that organism, that, that entity, the ability to just modulate how they feel without any safeguards at all. That could be really dangerous.
Herein lies the great conundrum of the simulation. It can't give us too much of what we want or it doesn't work.
You got to keep it wanting for more than I would imagine. The mastery of this self talk does have the potential to be damaging. I guess like as soon as I saw that you had done top athletes, I went immediately to the Tiger Woods documentary, which we both just watched. I don't know if you had a chance to see that or not. I haven't yet. It's incredible. I think it would interest you so much because his. Conditioning, since two or three years old, is his father creating racket around him while he played this game and perfecting this ability to block out stimuli and to compartmentalize and to really master the voice in the head, because, as you say, similar to tennis, I don't think there's a mental game.
You're playing yourself. Tiger's playing himself. You know, there has not been an example of someone who better mastered that internal voice than than Tiger. And then the personal struggles he had to me fit perfectly within that mastery, which is he can compartmentalize this part of his life and he can silence this voice in his head and he can proceed so. Well, go ahead.
You got me chomping at the bit here to play. That's what I was hoping to make you horny for this. Yeah. We're going to need another episode. So this speaks to to something that I think is also fundamental about human nature.
We often think about people in terms of traits so good at self talk across the board, neurotic, across the board, conscientious. I have a different perspective and there's a different tradition, which is that who you are is very contextual. I can be incredibly controlled in other contexts, but a total animal, not true. But hypothetically, in other contexts, with my friends or with my family, it's an if then profile that characterizes who we are. If I'm in one context, then I behave this way, then I'm in control.
If I'm in another context, then I behave very differently and the triggers are very different. So when I hear that example of Tiger, I don't see that as his ability to master self talk is getting him into trouble. I view it instead as he really mastered his ability to control himself on the golf course. But when it came to other things in his life, he was in much less control.
Yeah, for a variety of reasons, likely. So it's much more contextual. We all have our triggers.
I would argue that the amount of self-control was so overwhelming and he needed such a reprieve from that when not doing that thing, which is what he did most of the time.
It's like, yeah, it could be you know, it's possible I could think of other, you know, who knows? I got to watch the video.
Oh, it's really good. It's tremendous. I think it's more my armchair theory. Yeah. Is it's his life was so public. And I think when your life is so public and I mean his to an extreme, you crave a private life because everything you know, you need that and you're not getting it. So I think that's more what's what it's about as opposed to and still control. It's controlling the amount of privacy you have her anonymity or whatever, but it's not so much about his self talk, I think.
Well, you know, this is like I feel like we're in the lab now and we're workshopping an idea and coming up with some experiments we can do. Because when I hear you both talking about this, which I agree, fascinating, I hear I think he also started mastering this self talk with his dad early on in life before he was famous and well-known. Right. And then once he got to the next level, a whole different world opened up to him, a world that now he's got the spotlight on him, as you're suggesting, a world where he's probably more self-conscious, a world where he has handlers and enablers.
And and these are a whole new set of challenges that he probably wasn't as adept at managing and certainly didn't have the same practice as he did growing up with his dad. You know, going to the driving range. However, often he did. So a very different slice of life comes into play.
And here's my projection, because this is me, which is I have demonstrated great self-control and will in many facets of my life. And that gave me an arrogance in these other harder to manage areas of my life. So, you know, he's also an addict. He was on a bazillion different pills. He clearly was struggling with that. And I could relate to thinking, no, no, I have the skill set to do the impossible. So I'll be the person that can handle this situation in the same way I handle this other situation in a way most people can.
So that's my projection of what's going on, you know?
Yeah, well, like one of my pet peeves is when someone might say to me, they'll remain nameless. You have no self control. No, that's not true. I am able to control myself. I can delay gratification for a very long time to do my work. And I can. You know, yes, it's true, maybe late at night I get a little peckish and want some snacks don't inhibit, but it's contextual. So it's trigger if then and I think having the understanding that we can be really good at controlling ourselves in some contexts, but not good in others.
That's an important observation. And it really does then allow us to start thinking about how we can get better in that very specific context. It makes it more manageable because not now I have to shift everything about me. It's OK. How do I master this task? Yes, it is compartmentalized. Like it is it OK? This is an area I can focus on as opposed to this broad. I'm X, Y or Z, which I think is OK.
Then the great disillusion of alcoholics, which is oh, there are people with no willpower will know they're running Fortune 500 companies. That's too simple. It's in that situation. Yes.
And you know, this speaks to a bigger issue of human nature, which is we tend to categorize. We like categorizing because categorizing makes the world simple and we like simplicity. So black, white, good, bad, controlled, not. On the one hand, we have a tendency to categorize and simplify the world. On the other hand, we ourselves all know when we think about who we are that there is a lot of texture to who we are.
Don't reduce us to categories. So how do you make those different views align? I think that's a challenge that we really need to figure out to improve the way, yeah, we work as a society.
You know, we have to we have to start with understanding how we're built. And then once we understand how we're built, then it becomes possible to start thinking about how to how to navigate the world more effectively. Yeah, but we need to take I'm certain, you know, like mindfulness. I talk about this a little bit in the book, too, like, yeah. Look, I told you, I've been montera since five, right? So I know how to meditate.
I totally value the mindfulness and meditation, but I do react to the message that we always need to be in the moment, which a lot of people talk about. Right. Like human beings weren't designed to always live in the moment. We evolved to be able to live in the past, in the future, too. And that's really good. That's a useful quality. So I don't think we should be telling people always be in the moment. Yeah, I think be in the moment if you're in the moment, but also just figure out how to be in the past, in the future without getting sucked into the chatter vortex that ruins people's lives.
And so, you know, we've got to work within the contours of how we're built. Yes, absolutely.
In your book, chatter is a great step in that direction. So what a wonderful way to try to start understanding both the usefulness, the potential pathological nature of it and how to navigate it and how to harness it. So people should definitely read chatter. So Dr. Ethan Cross, pride of Ann Arbor, so great to talk to you. I hope you appreciated my U of M colors, and I hope to talk to you again soon. I think we could cover a lot of different topics.
Yeah, great fun.
Truly a fun conversation. Thanks for having me. OK, thank you baby.
Well, take care. Bye.
Stay tuned for more armchair expert, if you dare.
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And now my favorite part of the show, the fact check with my soulmate Monica Batmen below.
We're not together. I'm in Georgia right now. I'm in a storage closet, a.k.a. your cubie, your fact check cubie.
Cubby's an adorable words, right? I tell them like that. Tell the kindergartener's like you get a cubie, put your stuff in your cubby and they don't really have stuff.
No not not too much fun. Too little firster.
Not a lot of work to bring a ding ding ding. I'm at my childhood desk really. Childhood like before. Like not high school does. Like this was a five year old's desk. Yeah. So funny because I remember I'll take a picture of it.
Oh yeah. Yeah. Has a bookshelf attached. It's tall.
And when I was little I was climbing it to get a book because I was so smart, studious and I lost my footing and I like slid down. I got a big scar on my belly.
Oh my goodness. That's there to this day. Now it's gone.
Oh OK. So scratch we call that a scratch then a bit and stick around for that is a bad one though.
Yeah it was a wound.
Anyway, I'm looking at this now and the idea that I could have gotten her on this like it so is that I was so small but I fell and slid. I must have been just one two inches. Oh.
Speaking of which, Dingle's I posted it, this most adorable piece of artwork came our way.
Oh my God, my lord. So you. Oh my God, what a picture of you.
It was me as a tiny mouse.
That's who I picture climbing the bookshelf. That's what made me think of it. That's what she looked like. Yeah. She looked like a little whiskers and it was a long fall for that little mouse.
Yeah. Yeah. But luckily my eyes are light so they don't, they don't land with a lot of thunder.
They don't scare easily, but they do get scratches.
They get really that's incredible thing about mice is that you can really cut them up, you're really slicing and then they'll heal without any scarring. No killjoy.
No. Oh my gosh. Oh yeah.
And I do want to update people because we did tell everyone about it. So lest they be concerned and we can alleviate their fears off opiates since Saturday. So going on for days off. No, no issue. So if anyone who was concerned, we went through it or past it and all is good and the body is, you know, the body's not great, body is not great. I got some bad news Tuesday.
Yeah, well, tell us about that. And also, I'm proud of you. Thank you. So when they got in there in the shoulder to put in the new hardware in my stellar doctor, Dr. Dela Machado, he thought he saw some infection. Yeah. Thought maybe it wasn't. But let's be safe, he said. So I got a port in my arm. Very sexy. It's doodad. It's a new doodad.
It's a new look. It's kind of good to reinvent yourself every now and then.
That's true. That's true. Yeah. I definitely have a Dingel doodad coming out of my arm. And so and I have to put antibiotics directly into it. And then they what they do is they send away the piece of whatever body material to a lab and they see if anything grows. So for the first five days, nothing grew, which means no infection. I was starting to get really excited and then at my checkup, it would have been the ten day marker and I had been told of nothing gross.
In ten days you can get rid of the sport. So I went there with the sole goal of telling him either you pull the sport out or I'm pulling it out. I went with the ultimatum. Oh, boy. Oh, my God.
OK, you know how I like to operate and so about. Two seconds into me, winding up for this speech I've already rehearsed in my head, he steps up, the culture grew this weekend, you have an infection. And I was like, oh, my God. And then I said, OK, so fuck. Another week on this thing. You no Minoli, another six weeks of the day and we're going to Hawaii.
And it's not because I can't swim with the doohickey. I'm not allowed to be submerged in water with the doohickey. And I was really looking forward to snorkeling with the girls and splashing around a lazy river. Splash, splash.
Oh yeah. Well, well, maybe you can wade in and just like, you know, keep your arm out.
Yeah. It's just a pretty big risk to take with an open hole into your veins. If some some kids got strep this bacteria flushers sick.
Figure out a way to like really duct tape around it so no water can get you thinking.
Why don't we ask your your this doc, not this doctor but your doctor. But that doctor. Yeah, that doctor. Dr. Dale. Dr. D why don't we ask him what we can do. Maybe he has some sort of great contraption o work around a proprietary contraption.
Oh my gosh. I'm going to force him to invent a medical device and he's going to become a billionaire. I see.
This is working out. He's so lucky to be my surgeon. Before we get into Ethan. Yeah. We have to take a second. We just have to we must talk about the royals.
Oh yeah. I'm going to need you to fill me in. So I guess you're referring to the fact that they got Marcoule, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Yep. They got interviewed by Oprah. Yeah.
There's so many takeaways. One is Oprah. She's still got it.
Even though, like, some of the things she was like or like some of the tone, I was like, don't say that. Oh, but I loved it. Oh.
Like what was one of the things she said where you're like, oh careful. Like, she she pokes, she poke. She just she's we need to poke more, huh.
No, I guess it's tempting when you see someone as good as her to think like that. That's what we should be doing.
Yeah. Well Wendy, of course, like Wendy emailed me afterwards, like after listening to that, I think I should listen more like, you know, I fucked everyone up.
Is taking their cues from Oprah.
How long was the interview? Two hours. Wow. And does Oprah still interview? People are just like when something big like this happens. Exactly. And then where does she drop it?
It was on CBS. Oh, I think she got like eight or nine million. No. Yeah, I think so, yeah, suck a dick, good for her, I know. Good for her.
I will tell you in my very egocentric way that I roll through life. I knew that was happening. And of course, I so wanted to talk to them, as did you. Yeah. And I did fantasize about being like, God, could we ever be that those people that like when people decide to talk that were the trusted place that crossed my mind.
Yeah. What a flattering. What'll it be. Yeah.
What what a station to occupy. That's so cool. OK, so the takeaways hit me with the tape.
OK, so the takeaway is so you're going to feel so validated. Oh OK.
Hey, I like that it's pulling the back the curtain on the royal family in a in a way that's like whoa whoa.
They are fucked up now.
And and of course if you watch the crown which if you haven't watched the crown by now, you're not my friend, then you know that like you see it and you see it in this.
It's one of the great dysfunctional families of all time. Yeah. Yes.
But when you hear this outsider coming in and talking about it and like she was suicidal and was asking for help and they they weren't. Wow.
Just like Diana, it was like dying of an eating disorder and knowing that.
And Harry said that, he said I could see history repeating itself. No shit. All right. Because that's his mom. His mom. Yeah.
What was the most salacious accusation?
Well, the big one that people are talking about is someone in the royal family had conversations with Harry while Megan was pregnant with Archie. Their boy worried about the skin color of the baby.
OK, oh, boy. And no one, they didn't say who it was, but of course, there's speculation.
Who do people think it is that pervert? That guy is out of the picture. I mean, no, he's he's not really I mean, he kind of is, but he's talking about the Eppstein cohort.
Yeah. Andrew, yeah. Andrew yeah. He's still in the mix. Like, I'm pretty sure he still gets paid. Oh. And they aren't they've cut Harry and Meghan off completely.
They haven't, they're. Oh they don't get any money. No money. No security.
Oh wow. Like really bad really. Wow. What the fuck are they going to do for a living.
So he said so you know they left, they went to Canada and and they were really trying to make it look as good for the the family as possible is like we're going to still keep our duties. We're just going to take one position down, you know, trying hard to make them look not crazy. Yeah. And then they were just like cutting them off. No protection. No this. And luckily, Diana had saved money for, oh, the kids.
So and he said I would never have been able to do this without the money my mom left me. And now they have like no deals and she deals. Yeah.
Can you imagine anything more distracting than if you walked into Starbucks in fucking Prince Henry was behind Harry. Prince Harry was behind the counter. Oh.
Oh, man. But the protection thing is really bad because like, you know, are your whole stance about the kids. You know, it's like they don't choose it. He was born into this. He has no choice. Yeah. And to take away protection from that person is very scary. And like, because there's a lot of, like, death threats and a lot of stuff about her race and. All right. Just. Oh, yeah.
I just got really, really, really bad. It's really worth especially for you, because you're just going to feel so good about hating the royals the whole time. I felt guilty for liking them.
Well, don't do that. Well, I just felt like then. I know. And just to be clear, I don't like them in a way that's like I admire them. I just find them incredibly fascinating and I'm interested in their stories.
Here's my question. If you had the choice, would you end this thing? I think up until this, I probably would have said no. We want to show you. Yeah, yeah. A it let them be. But now. No, it's hurting people. It's a problem.
Well, and again, my point is always like nobody's benefiting. They're not they're only miserable, even the perpetrators of this stuff. They're fucking miserable and they're taking it out on everyone else. I don't know. I don't know who's winning exactly.
And that's what Harry said other than tabloids.
Well, yeah. And then that's a part of it. I didn't realize, like, they're they're in cahoots, like they're feeding off of each other. The tabloids need the royals and the Royals need the tabloids. So they're like they host dinners at the palace for their tabloids. They're bedfellows.
Yes. And Harry said they're all trapped. My dad's trapped. My brother's trapped. So he's giving them some grace. They're not out of it. So they can't see.
And we always talk about being in the water. Can you imagine being in that water? What a fucking weird, warped view of the world you have.
I know. But you'd think after what Charles went through with, like Camilla and Diana and all that, like you'd think he'd have more compassion for what was going on and. But he's trapped.
Yeah, well, I think well, first of all, he's got to consider people like you who are enjoying the story so much so they didn't want to break your heart.
But then secondly, I imagine they see it the same way people who went to World War Two thought like, well, I'm going to go kill myself because I believe in this country. Like, they have some ideal that feels like it can justify all other things, murdering people, whatever. And so, yeah, I'm sure being a royal is a far stronger force than being an American.
Oh, for sure. For sure. And you're literally like, oh, am I going to destroy this thing that has existed for five hundred years on my watch? I'm going to be the dingess who mishandles this thing.
I know, but it made me feel so. Horny for Harry. Oh, yeah, yeah. Is he sexy? Yeah, I think so, yeah. I remember seeing him naked in those photos and he had a great body. Oh.
Like from a long time ago when he was in Vegas was Ambrose and he was mooning the camera and he has top off and he fucking looked great.
Oh yeah. I mean he's obviously always been a bit rebellious. Yeah. I felt respect.
I respect these two people so much because that must have been so fucking hard to do to walk away, talk about getting out of the ultimate abusive relationship.
It's like Shackley. Exactly.
Yeah, because because you don't even have a living. You don't have. And what again, what was he going to get a job somewhere that can't he can't get a job anywhere. I know. Maybe he's a movie star or podcast host, but those are his two options or primatologist.
The monkeys won't know who he is. Well, OK, so here is the one criticism I heard and I didn't watch it, so I don't know. But I was told that Megan's stuff felt a little too scripted and rehearsed and not really like as much from the heart as much as maybe like prepared monologues about the situation. Oh, did you detect that at all?
No. OK. OK. I'm sure they were very anxious about this obviously. But maybe she had preplanned in her head like we all do before we do anything. But I did not feel like it was disingenuous at all.
OK, I am going to I'm going to explore like I'm going to put myself in the exact same position. Are you in an attempt to write? So let us assume because patriotism it's in you more than you ever. Our I think it's in a lot of people more than they recognize. Right. So I often find myself doing this. It's like I don't mind someone from another country being somewhat critical of us, but there does get to a point where I get defensive and let us imagine that a English dude or a Russian dude came in and wooed one of the Obama daughters and there became this big circus.
And then the Obama daughter and the Russian went back to Russia and then from Russia, they explained why this whole system we have is oppressive and abusive and malarkey. I could see being more critical of a Russian, an outsider who came in and facilitated the end of this thing. That's from my country. I can see a little in group out group thing where it might be different if you're British watching her talk about this than it is for us for sure.
And also, I think the British tabloids exploit that like they say, like Meghan stole Harry Morgan did this. She's not gonna mess it. Yeah, they made her that.
And so makes it that's. Yeah, that's a good one.
Unfortunately, there's no I mean, I get it. I get it. People who live there like, uh but yeah.
Hey Americans, thanks for stopping by destroying the monarchy. Yeah.
But you know in your example that you gave the Obamas. Yeah.
Like if Sasha and the Russian were on Russian TV, Vladimir and Sasha and they were talking about, oh, we are really quick.
Sasha is a Russian name. This is working out perfectly.
Oh, my God. And if they were talking about some like real, real deep seated racism that they experienced in the White House, let's.
Uh huh, yeah. And well, the reverse racism probably in this case, because it's the boss in reverse. Racism doesn't exist. But yes. Right.
No, but no, they could she could have experienced. Oh you're right. Could be calling out. Yes.
Because we love Obama. So I'm starting from a place of like, oh, I got to pick someone I love.
I'm a little wonky on the back of the analogy. It's it's ever changing and I'm losing the analogy a bit.
But anyway, my point is, if they if they call out something like that, we might be like, hey, but that's what our foundation is and oh my gosh. But also, they'd be doing the right thing. They'd be doing the right thing by calling it out and trying to expose this really bad, bad system.
But my friend who's British, who that was his takeaway about Megan. I guess I was trying to consider why that would be his takeaway, because he's a very thoughtful person and he is not pro monarchy. So I was thinking, why did he read it differently than you? And I guess that's that's what I'm trying to come as a justification is like. Well, ultimately, she is an outsider who's being very critical of the thing he was born into.
So I can acknowledge that also maybe I mean, she wasn't like bawling, right? Maybe for him he was like, that's not how I would act. If, you know, a lot of people do that, I'll think like, oh, I'd be crying or I'd be doing this if I was talking about it. And, you know, everyone just responds differently, especially with talking to Oprah.
Yeah. That makes me think immediately of Adam Grant interview. Malcolm recently, and they had not heard any of them, have you heard these? No, I know they like debate, right? Yeah, they fight.
It's the greatest. I mean, they love each other, but, like, they don't agree on anything. And Adam is so challenging to him. It's really fun to sit down and, you know, they're just they're such different personality types. It's really fun. But one of the things was Malcolm had had cited this psychological study that had happened in Germany where they're trying to disprove that your face is so linked to your heart, which was this kind of consensus in psychology.
And they did this experiment where they in Germany, they lead these people down this long, dark hallway and they would put them into a room and then they'd ask him to read some Kafka or something depressing, and then they'd open the door. And when they came out, there was no hallway. And someone from their childhood was sitting in a chair in front of them and they filmed their face. And then they asked them what happened. And they would say, like, oh, I was I was so shocked.
And I was, you know, every single thing they would say they experienced and really none of it was on their face. And so Malcolm was like, in my opinion, that study kind of disproves this notion we have that people's faces are so telling. And then Adam countered and said, well, it might more prove that people are really shitty at recounting what they were thinking or feeling.
Oh, yeah, they might not have the language or adjectives to say what they were really feeling like they just went to. Oh, I was shocked anyways. Fascinating debate. Oh, that's interesting. Yeah.
And I think what they do is that anytime one of them has a book, the other helps them promote it, but they help them promoted by shitting on it.
Kind of really fun so that I listen to Adam be a guest on Malcolm's show where he was promoting his book. And it's so funny because had Adam never said it, he said, I want to say that I have observed a pattern where you write a book with a theory and then a few years later, you write a book with the opposite theory. He's like blinking, saying that people are really good at things, lysine, and they can make really good decisions.
And then you write the most recent one, I forget the name of it that I love, which is people don't know what anyone's talking about and confusion is the norm. And then he says, then you write outliers, which is about there's no real advantage and it's all about thing. And then you write David and Goliath and say, oh, being in power is the disadvantage. He's like, what's your message in Malcolm? Just like, yeah, I don't care.
Like, you want me to have a seamless trajectory of my thoughts and opinions and I don't. He said, I take great joy in contradicting myself. And I was like, Oh, this is so fascinating. It's tasty. Yeah, it was really tasty.
Well, let's talk about eating a little bit. So this is a fact. It was just something I wanted to bring up. He talks about Rafael Nadal doing rituals and we talk a lot about rituals on here.
And I think after hearing all these different opinions, I just worry that rituals make you OCD. Like, I don't know if they can. I don't know if that can work backwards like that.
But, well, they're the exact same thing. They're both an attempt to get control over something uncontrollable, right?
Yeah, but one OCD you don't have control of like you have to listen to the song. You know, yours is you have to listen to the song twice if you hear at one Van Halen jump.
Yeah. Yeah. I don't even want to say it. I know I'd hate even saying it. OK, we don't have to sound. The whole thing's shrouded in bad luck. I'm so sorry. OK, but you know, that's like something you can't control. Whereas with these athletes, they're creating them, you know, they're creating the compulsions. They're like creating they tap this five times and then I do this and it's a way to get control, but it's invented.
But then I wonder at some point, does it does it get out of control?
OK, so I have a little bit different of opinion. I don't think they engineer them. I think they are things they linked. So one day they wore green socks and they finished first. So then they make the connection, oh, is green socks. I don't think they set out to have these. I think they take notice of something they did just prior to having a great performance and then they clock it. So I would say I would say the chicken or the egg is that they're OCD already.
OK, but that might be true. And then I think for like Danny Rick Horrow, who doesn't believe in those with a really, really defendable explanation, I prefer it.
Yeah. Yeah. Why are you going to let these little things inform how you do? Because what if one of those goes wrong like that? That's genius. But I think it's easy for him to have that opinion because he's just not OCD.
Yeah, that might be true. OK, all right. But we talked it out, OK, the name of the disorder that where you can't feel pain, huh? It's just called congenital insensitivity to pain or. OK, yeah I know.
Caesareans on Latin enough for me to take it seriously. I don't love it either. Yeah. Congenital insensitivity to pain and hydrolysis. CIPA is a rare hereditary disease that causes affected individuals to be unable to feel pain and unable to sweat. Oh anhydrase. This is unable to sweat. That I hear hydro in there, that makes sense. OK, oh, here's another congenital insensitivity to pain, also known as congenital outman Nannerl anal analgesia. Here are the options.
Oh, OK, easy. Here are the options. Analgesia, analgesia, analgesia, analgesia.
Oh, my gosh. I bet a lot of proctologists treat people with analgesia.
Is that when your anus is full of GI, I think it's like progeria.
The disease where people age quickly. I think it's you have a geezer's anus too early.
I think I have it, you know, easier because I have Benjamin Button had no he had he had reverse analgesia. Oh, my God.
Yeah. His asshole look way younger than I was. I look like a baby's asshole. Yeah, but when he was a baby, he had regular analgesia.
He had straight up analgesia. Yeah, but then it started turning into reverse. Yes. Yes. Uh, we talk a little bit about the tiger doc and this we've talked about it on here, so we don't need to get super into it again.
I just tell you this. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tiger Woods. And there's been an update, of course, since you got in that car accident. And I've just been thinking like. I mean, people are probably going to get mad at me for sympathizing with him, but, you know, this doc comes out and he's alive. He's feeling that the world is learning about him, hearing stuff about him, a portrayal of him that he's not a part of.
And I just wonder if that, like, it must drive you crazy.
And he already is not the most stable, although it is his superpower of disassociating and compartmentalizing being employed right now. And he's actually able to cruise through it more than any other person would normally be able to.
Perhaps I just because he was on his way to play golf. Right. He's in public playing golf. I know.
But I think that compartmentalization stops at a certain point, unless you're truly, truly diagnosable thinking I made that up sociopathic, then I think that compartmentalization runs out or at least it's getting funneled into other areas and you don't know it.
I guess what I mean is like his ability to ignore his surroundings and the reality around him, i.e. tons of noise. His dad doing the keys like he can. Yeah, yeah. He can get in a tunnel clearly and ignore the world. And and maybe that's what he's been doing to deal with all this. I think the fact that he had like 30 girlfriends and could somehow do all that and that's a lot. Thirty people.
That's a lot. That is a lot. A lot of folks.
That's that's a really alfer. Ethan. Oh, also, Laura wanted me to share. She, too, got a mantra when she was like five or six for her birthday, which is really funny.
So Laura grew up in Iowa in the Maharishi community. She went to a Maharishi school. And it's so weird to me that Laura grew up like that. When I think about her growing up and and we're all hanging out and I'm like, you seem I mean, not normal or abnormal, but just like there's no trace of it.
Exactly like I'm more aware of like, oh, you went to USC. That seems. Yes. In keeping. Yeah. But not Maharishi School. Yeah.
Or they meditated at school and not getting fucked on your sixth birthday with a mantra.
I mean I'd be resentful that me and my therapy write it down, write it down for therapy.
I was suggesting off mic that you get your find your way over to Athens and do a little booty pumping.
Oh that's true. The good old days. I was hoping you would dust off your booty bumper.
I was wondering if I could look through some pictures and see if there were any pictures of those party.
Oh yeah. I would love to see. Yeah. Give it a good go to scour it. Go through it with a fine tooth comb.
OK. OK. All right. I love you. I love you.