Episode 46: The Inner Voice and Executive Functioning

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The Inner Voice and Executive Functioning

The inner Voice and Executive Functioning

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        Erica: Welcome to the personal brain trainer podcast. I'm Dr. Erica Warren.

        Darius: And I'm Darius Namdaran, and we're your hosts. Join us on an adventure to translate the scientific jargon and brain research into simple metaphors and explanations for everyday life. We explore executive function and learning strategies that help turbocharge the mind.

        Erica: Come learn to steer around the invisible barriers so that you can achieve your goals. This podcast is ideal for parents, educators, and learners of all ages.

        Darius: This podcast is sponsored by Dyslexiaproductivitycoaching.com. We give you a simple productivity system for your Apple devices that harnesses the creativity that comes with your Dyslexia.

        Erica: This podcast is brought to you by Goodsensorylearning.com, where you can find educational and occupational therapy lessons and remedial materials that bring delight to learning. Finally, you can find Dr. Warren's many courses at, Learningspecialistcourses.com. Come check out our newest course on developing executive functions and study strategies.

        Darius: So today, what we're going to talk about, Erica?

        Erica: We're going to be talking about the inner voice. I think the inner voice is such a wonderful tool that we have in our executive functioning tool belt, specifically in working memory. And I think it's going to be a fun exploration because, like the inner voice, there's a huge continuum of capacity that one can have. Whereas some people have a really loud inner voice, and some people have a very quiet inner voice, some people have very positive ones or negative ones, and some people have multiple inner voices. But I know that the more you explore it, the more you take the inner voice, which tends to be a subconscious tool, and it brings it into consciousness. And when we do that, we have the power to alter our inner voice and change it to what we want it to be.

        Darius: So to clarify for listeners, they might regard this as, self-talk. Talking to yourself. I suppose the technical term is inner voice.

        Erica: Is it?

        Darius: In the research, do they talk about this as inner voice, or what are other terms for this inner voice?

        Erica: Some people call it your inner dialogue.

        Darius: Inner dialogue? Yeah.

        Erica: I encourage all of my students to name their inner voices. What the research does show is that when you name your inner voice, then you are aware of it. It brings it into the consciousness. So there are times where I hear an inner voice and I'll turn around and say, oh, and name it. So, for example, there's a certain inner voice that is one that I learned from my mother. And I'll say, hey, mom. And as soon as I do that, it gives me perspective and allows me to control it.

        Darius: I see. Now, this might seem a little bit woo woo to some people listening, and a lot of it depends on how your language on it. I would probably call itself talk from my own perspective. Self-talk, talking to yourself. And it's very common that people talk to yourself. And it's not a sign of madness or insanity or anything like that. It's just a common part of being a human that these voices are. We've talked about this before, too. Both resonating within us. It's like, a resonance. It's like a ghost of the past. In effect, your mother speaking to you as a we see this happening in movies, don't we? Like, people go into this kind of altered state, and they start seeing the person, but you know, it's not the person. It's actually that self-talk, that inner voice talking to themselves, and they've personified it and visualized it. But for many people, that self-talk is a real thing that is a real part of everyday life. Now, what's interesting here is how that ties in with executive function and brain training. What you're talking about here is instead of just passively receiving the world coming at you, and even those voices within you coming at you, executive function is all about setting your course in life, setting who you want to be, where you want to go, what you want to do, getting all that. That's all part of your executive function. And so self-talk is a big part of that in your experience, is it?

        Erica: Definitely. Again, we've talked about this before, where you take the word executive functioning, and you flip it. I want to be a functioning executive of my own cognition, and it's a tool that enables you to do that. The other fun thing about it, and a way that I often promote it to my students, is that it's a tool that enables you to travel time. So both visualization and the inner voice allow individuals to dip into the past or even plan for the future. So it's a really nice and kind of fun way to present it to children, because it's really all about imagination. Imagination. And actually, you can even create something that doesn't exist, or you can manifest something by using those two tools. I think the more that you are again conscious about it, the more you can manage it, you can control it. We definitely live in a society where we don't teach individuals how to use these tools. But in fact, I think that's where the real wealth is. I think that these are hidden tools in our society that can be extremely powerful for not only academics, but a positive well-being. It enables us to live in our best self, control our cognition, and decide how we want to present ourselves in this world. So I think it's extremely important, and I think it's really the cornerstone of the executive functioning work that I do, which is, okay, what are the tools, and how can we use them to keep ourselves on track?

        Darius: Well, it's interesting that you talked about naming your different inner voices. I don't go so far as to say that a particular name, but I think there's an adult part of me, and there's a child part of me I just kind of visualize, and sometimes those parts of me talk to one another. It's like, oh, yeah, we need to go and do such and such. And then the child part of me is like, I don't want to be doing that. And the adult part is, no, it's the right thing. We should really be doing that. And I just kind of encourage that dialogue sometimes, because sometimes it's important to get that kind of childish resistance out of the way so that it's been articulated and yeah, you're absolutely right. I know. I feel the same. And it's like an adult might say to a child, the child goes, no, I don't want to go to such and such. And you're like, I feel just the same. I don't really want to go to the shops just now. But if we don't go to the shops just now, we're not going to have any food for dinner, and we're not going to have any pudding, and there's not going to be any crisps or chips for tonight while we watch Ted Lasso. And then the child part of me will yeah, okay, we'll go.

        Darius: You know, there's this dialogue, and it was interesting because and I'm glad you brought this topic up for this episode, because I was meeting with a client who's an adult, and we were talking about how their world was feeling a bit over disorganized, and their room and their life and their house was being disorganized. And, I want to be teaching them, like, productivity system and so on. But sometimes if you're living in a cluttered world, you need to clear that clutter. So I said, why don't you consider taking your wallet and emptying your wallet out and just putting everything back into your wallet? Just clear out your wallet and put everything back into it. It's really simple, straightforward, but there's something happens when you do that. Throw out that bit of paper, et cetera. Clean it up, and you go, Right, yeah, I'm sorted. And I started to describe to him how you might convince yourself to clear out your wallet or your bag or your bedside table. And I explained to him the three-minute rule that, who is it David Allen uses in the book Getting Things Done? It might be the two-minute rule, which is basically, you don't want to do something. And this ties in with the inner voice, okay, let's say you've got a task and you don't want to do it. You really don't want to do it. Okay? You're hiding away from it. You're putting it off. You're procrastinating well, you say to yourself, how about we just spend two minutes doing it? Three minutes doing it. How about we just spend three minutes doing it? And if at the end of the three minutes you still don't want to do it, we will stop. But if after the end of the three minutes, you still want to go roll forward a little bit, then bonus, great. We'll roll forward. Okay? And I said the way that I would do this with myself is I would go, there'd be one voice here saying, okay, let's do that little pile of paperwork there and just spend three minutes. And then child part of me goes, no, you're just tricking me. You're going to trick me here, and then I'm going to be stuck for like, an hour. You're just tricking me. I'm not going to do it. And the adult part of me saying, no, honestly, three minutes. Here's the deal. Three minutes. I'm going to set a timer. I'll hold myself to it. If you don't want to do it, promise I won't bug you. In fact, I'll not talk to you about it for another day. How about that? And the child goes, really? Promise three minutes. And you're like, I promise. Three minutes. And when I shared that with my client, he was like, oh, my goodness, you've got such a kind inner voice. And I was like, yeah, I suppose I do. I've intentionally done that over the last 2030 years to counteract some of the more, like, with being Dyslexic and with ADHD, you, really feel like a disappointment a lot of the time. And it doesn't matter how successful you look on the inside, on the outside, on the inside, a lot of people with dyslexia well, a lot of people, but especially people with Dyslexia, feel stupid, and they feel like a disappointment to themselves. And so I think a big part of it is learning to train that inner voice. So I just thought I'd share that to kind of set that up.

        Erica: That's one of the most important things that I do with children, dyslexic children and other children that have learning disabilities or difficulties. Because many times when they're little, that inner voice can become an outer voice, too, so you can hear them. Or sometimes I'll even say, let's make your inner voice out, your outer voice. Or we start to explore the different inner voices and characters that they have. I can remember one little boy that had such a negative inner voice where he just beat himself up so badly, and outwardly, too, that I had to pay him to say positive things. So I would say, for every positive thing you say about yourself, I'll give you a penny. And there was a time where he walked out with a dollar. That was a lot of negative chatter, but it was interesting that it changed over time, because a lot of it is just, he had to just get used to saying positive things about himself. And he was now motivated because he was motivated to say something positive because of the penny. So as soon as he said something negative, he would counteract it with something positive. But it really helped to shift him. But it's so interesting, as you were talking, I was thinking about how, our inner voice is not just a tool of our working memory, but it's also a tool of our inhibitory control. So it's a tool in both areas because our inner voice is metacognition. It’s just metacognition allowed in our brain.

        Darius: Cognitive, flexibility too.

        Erica: All right, explain.

        Darius: Well, let's take cognitive flexibility for example. sometimes with my inner voice, okay, something will happen, and I need to talk myself round to accepting reality. And I go, look, Darius, that wasn't right. This is how it should have been; this is what I should have known. And you think to yourself, well, but this is what is actually happening. And you go, yeah, I know, but it's wrong, this shouldn't be happening. And you're like, well, maybe it shouldn't be happening, but maybe this is the way things are and maybe this is the way things should be happening. You might not like it, but maybe there's purpose in this. And then the other part of me goes, well, maybe. And there's this conversation gradually happens. And this is the cognitive flexibility where you're starting to say, okay, this is what's happening outside of me, and this is what's happening inside of me. How do I reconcile that? That's cognitive flexibility is this reconciliation.

        Darius: And often the voices, you can set them up. I mean, for me, I make this up. I don't think of them as entities. I kind of set up a character within my mind because I think in stories, that the adult me and the child me, basically. So the adult me will be the one who articulates the case for the outside world. This is how things are shape up and just accept it. And the inside me is like the child going, no, that's not fair, I want things to go my way.

        Erica: That's so interesting because I have never utilized my inner child as a voice. I have as an image, but I never have given her a voice. But now that you've said that I can. That's the interesting thing about visualization and the inner voice that when you start talking about it, it starts coming alive. And when you talk to other people about it and you discuss with them what inner voice they have and how they use it and all of these things, it starts to open up new characters. I'll never forget this student that I had that had multiple characters, like 30 different inner voices. And they all had different names and they all had different some were male, some were female, and they all had different purposes. And the work that I did with her was to give each one a job because some of them were distracting her when she was doing her homework, some of them were working against her. And so we decided that if we could find the value in each one of these inner voice characters and give them a job that it would help her to manage them, and it would help her to manage her executive functioning skills. And it was such a fascinating thing to do with her. It was awesome. It was awesome. And that's exactly what ended up happening, is we kind of altered these characters a little bit so that we could give them some value.

        Darius: That's fascinating. And, in many ways, a psychologist would be having a field day with what we're saying right now in terms of, is this some sort of psychic break or some sort of dissociative disorder, et cetera. But actually, if you listen to authors of books, and I've interviewed a number of authors in the Dyslexia explored podcast, these characters are real to them. Not real real, but they're an entity inside of them, that they're dialoguing with and that they're kind of living with and try and make it as real as possible. And even if you think of reading a book or watching a Netflix series, you can go away and you start thinking, I wonder what they're doing and how they're dealing with that, and so on, because the storyteller has done such a great job, and you really want to continue with that. And I think there's real utility, practical utility, in creating a voice for certain things.

        Darius: And I wonder I've been thinking more about what you're saying about different things for different characters. I change my kind of inner mode when I put on different clothes. We've talked about this in another episode a while back in terms of strategies, external strategies. So, for example, when I put on my workman clothes, my woodworking clothes, and I've got my steel toe caps on, and I've got my tool belt on and my jacket on, and I've got my hammer strapped to the side of me, my mode changes. I'm in a certain zone, and I really like being in that zone. And also, I find the more not the grown-up part of me, but another aspect of the grown-up part of me, which is the sensible, practical, craftsman type, like my grandfather feels very much like my grandfather would speak to me. It's like, right, let's do this systematically, sensibly, and create something beautiful that is of legacy and so on. And I go into that mode.

        Erica: So there I think you just uncovered another inner voice of yours. So congratulations. And that's the beauty about it. The more we start to explore it, and then they become alive, they become conscious. And it's interesting because then they kind of start to take on this new it's like you've got companions. You really do.

        Darius: Yeah, I'm resisting this, Erica. Internally, I'm resisting this. And I'm sure there'll be listeners who are resisting, you know, because I don't think of them as they. I really think of them as me.

        Erica: How about parts? Parts of you? So I often use the parts language when I'm talking to individuals about it, but it's different for every person. So allowing people makes me think of all of these kinds of new nuances of people saying, well, I'm not she, I'm they. Or there is this kind of sense that people need to choose what resonates with them for their inner voice. Again, some people may have one inner voice, some people may have many inner voices. but I think the more you start to explore it, it's such a nice way to explore parts because I would be surprised if somebody didn't have a negative inner voice.

        Darius: Yes, we should talk more about that because we've been very much talking about the positive side of the inner voice. And what is for sure when you start having a positive inner voice that encourages you and says, yes, you can do this, you can do another step, you can push through this. Okay, it's painful. It really is painful. But don't worry, this will pass, it's going to be okay. And those kinds of voices that encourages you along the way. But then there are other parts of you that can masquerade as trying to be helpful and practical. I'm just telling you as it is, you are fat and you're not looking your best right now, or whatever it is that's inside of you. And you might think, oh gosh, yes, I suppose I'm just being honest with myself. But are you? And it's kind of like those inner, the darker part of you, the negative part of you, the shadow part, can masquerade as trying to be a good voice or a practical voice or whatever, but actually be putting you down without you knowing it. And obviously, there's other voices that are just putting you down straight away. What are your thoughts on that?

        Erica: There's the inner critic, right? I, have a very strong voice that's just got a lot of social commentary, even when I'm in public places, that it's got things to say about a lot of different people. It's just pointing out different things that I'm seeing. Sometimes it's positive, sometimes it's negative, sometimes it's critical, sometimes it's compassionate. But I don't see them as the same energy. They're different energies. And so that's when it's interesting to name it. And you can, you can name just the energy. Like, I have some students that will say, oh yeah, that's my yellow part. So sometimes we color code them, sometimes we actually draw characters, or we'll go onto Canva, and we'll find characters that represent them. We can name them. Maybe, they're positive. Like yesterday, when I was working with one of my students in my course, my executive functioning course, I have a whole section on this, and she really liked the names that I picked for the positive inner voice versus the inner critic. And the positive inner voice is Sunny, spelled Sunny, and has, like, a little icon of a happy sun. That it's more than an icon. It's like, a little video of a happy sun. And then there's the other one, which is named Sourpuss, which is a whole nother story, because naming it something cute also then makes it kind of funny, which then makes it more inviting for kids. Like, if you call it just your negative inner voice, I wouldn't even want to go there.

        Darius: Yeah.

        Erica: Because it makes me think of my parents criticizing me when I was being negative. But Sourpuss brings in this kind of funny part of it and is a cute name, so it's easier to kind of confront that character.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: right. So I feel it's just as important to come up with the right name for the different parts that we want to confront as it is to come up with an image for them. Because then all of a sudden, we can negotiate with them. If we say they're just us, it's harder to negotiate. Well, and you can negotiate with your inner child. Right. You have to negotiate. There have to be more than one party in order to have a negotiation. So that's why whether you want to call it parts or they or characters, but it's really interesting and it's funny. It's really hilarious work to do with somebody. And people, when you talk about it in this way, people laugh a lot, you get a lot of momentum. And I find I'm just finishing up my certification in coaching. I use it a lot in coaching. It's really helpful because it really makes you aware of the different things that you are hearing subconsciously. And what's so beautiful about making it conscious is you can reprogram your subconscious. As long as it's not conscious, you can't reprogram your subconscious. It just continues. And so if you really want to change and be a better person, one of the best things that you can do is really start to dive into this inner voice work where you can really explore what's going on in there and talk to other people about it. Because I love that you have a conversation with your inner voice. I'm, like, really looking forward to now or sorry, your inner child. I am really looking forward to now talking to my inner child. I think that's really cool. I never thought about that. And I really want to give her a voice, and I'm really looking forward to hearing what she has to say because that could be really helpful.

        Darius: Yeah, I mean, I'm really passionate about we need to be childlike as well as adults. Like, sometimes we think, all right, I need to be grown up, I need to be sensible. I need to put childish things behind me. And that is true of some things. But I mean, even if you look at the Bible, for example, you can't enter the kingdom of God unless you become a child, something like that. It's like this kind of sense where it's like there's a quality of entering into this ideal world that comes from childlikeness. And I think there's a big difference between being childlike and childish.

        Erica: Right?

        Darius: And so sometimes my childlike voice, my child voice is like, yeah, okay, let's play with that. That sounds fun. Let's have some fun with that. That sounds good. It's not like, the child voice is always being put down or corrected. Sometimes my kids are saying, dad, you're just being so childish. And I'm like, yeah, it's great, isn't it? And they're like, yeah, okay. And so there's a place to be childlike and there's a place to be an adult, and it's negotiating with yourself when it's time to be both. There's a time to be very practical and realistic, and there's a time to be very impractical and imaginative and creative and enter into fantasy world, imaginative world, imaginative play, that sort of thing. And there's a time to be really sensible, practical, realistic, pragmatic, et cetera. And I think that whole inner voice, that self-talk is really helpful in navigating when it's a time for each.

        Erica: Yeah. And you know what really came up for me listening to you speak is that that inner child is so authentic. It's like before, all the stuff of life is piled on that. Underneath all of that is this little innocent, lovely, authentic inner self that's so pure and means so well. And I think that there is this certain authenticity to kids. And I don't know if other people can do this, but I can really place myself into my inner child. Like, I can feel like she's looking through my eyes. Now, I don't know if you can do this, but when I say, like, okay, inner child, when I'm looking at you right now, I'm looking at you from my inner child. Or I can switch it. It's kind of like as you were talking about putting on different clothes, you're putting on your journeyman clothes that I could put on my suit. And I can be my professional self. I think it's interesting. So you can take it beyond the voice and really feel it in your body, which is very interesting.

        Erica: So that's really taking it out of the head and pulling it into the body. And there's a certain wisdom that you have access to when you enable those parts to drop into your body. Yeah. A lot of people are going to say, wow, this is crazy stuff. It's not, though. It's really quite lovely and it's a lot of fun. And you can access the wisdom of these different parts at different times. And the more conscious you are, the more you can say, oh, wow, there's a crisis here. Which part could help me the most? I need to make a conscious choice to access that part because that will help me get through this.

        Darius: Well, you remember we did that episode of my expedition from, Ireland to Iona in the dinghy across the Irish Sea, there are moments when you're crossing the sea like that and there's risk and so on, and there's a lot of self-talk going on there. So for example, I remember self-talk like, have you checked the telltales? Are the screws still, okay? Is everything holding in place? What's the rudder like? Have you checked this? How are the crew doing? And so there's that kind of captain mode.

        Erica: You go, right, your captain's voice, oh, I love that. Now we've uncovered the captain's voice, we've got the journeyman's voice, we've got the captain's voice, we've got the adult voice, and we've got the child voice. So now you have four voices, and.

        Darius: I've got a captain's coat as well. I put the coat on, and it's got all these big pockets for my satellite navigation, my VHF, my knife, all the different tools that I need to have on me because it's just a dinghy if I fall off the boat, I've got to have everything with me. And so that puts me into a mode as well. What was I saying? So there was very much a voice in that. But it's interesting on that journey where I was actually a terrible captain in that journey. And I told you, because it was my first time doing such an extreme expedition in a four-millimeter plywood boat, it's four millimeters thick. I'm like this nervous mum who's like, oh no, don't do this, you've got to do this, we've got to do everything right. And so on. That sort of nervous mum kind of approach until you become a second time mum, second time parent. You're like, yeah, okay, that's not going to ruin the world, it's not going to ruin your child. We can manage this, but this is important and that's not so important, et cetera. And you could distinguish what's ultra-important from what you can give on. And in many ways, that's what's happening inside this dialogue scenario, is that sometimes a part of you can start panicking and go, no, this is important, we've got to do it like this, we've got to do it like that, we've got to do it like this, and no, and you start controlling absolutely everything. And then there's a part of you that's got to rise up and say, okay, come on, let's deal with this properly, okay? You can't be in control of everything. You've just got to be in control of what's important and let go. It's like, what is it? The Alcoholics Anonymous. Prayer or phrase? There's this serenity prayer which goes, God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Or you could just say, I want the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the. Things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. And in many cases, I think this ties in very much to this whole inner dialogue side of things. What things can you change? What things can't you change, and can you tell the difference? And often that inner dialogue, I find is very helpful to help me get to know those things I can change and those that I can't change and, discover that wisdom to know the difference.

        Erica: Absolutely. And it's so funny because when you first started talking, you made this comment like, oh, I was such a nightmare during and I was like, the first thing that popped in my head was, oh, which part is saying that? What part of Darius is I can.

        Darius: Tell you what part it was. The crew, my crew, Ruben, and Tim, oh, they were fantastic. But they're like Darius and they were making fun of me and so on. And I'm like you're right. I know. You know how we can rib each other, guys going out on a lad’s trip, sort of thing. They were making fun of me. And I'm like, you're absolutely right. But I can't change it right now because I'm still totally petrified that I'm going to do something wrong. And then I dialed it down throughout the trip. Day two, I relaxed a bit more and then day three, relaxed completely into it. And we all, you know, the Forming Storming norming, performing, I don't phrase. So the four stages of forming a team. Every team goes through these four stages where there's Forming Storming norming and performing. So there's a formative stage where it's all quite nice. You're all kind of being friendly and so on. So the formative stage, the forming stage, then there's the storming stage, where something goes wrong, and you have to go through a storm together. Okay? And if you get through the storm together and you find a way to get through the storm together as a team, you then get to the norm stage and things just normalize. Not that you just accept that you live in a perpetual storm, but you find out how you work to each other and there's this stability that comes and this bond that comes, and then you perform. So in order to go from a team that starts to a team that performs, they have to norm, storm, norm and perform.

        Erica: Got it.

        Erica: Thinking about this too, also makes me wonder how much the Amygdala takes place or is an active member of some of the inner voice work, because you were talking about that first time mum voice that's just panicky and all of that. I wonder if that's really because that was a very dangerous trip. And so I'm sure your adrenaline was up, and I would imagine that you were in a state of fight, flight, and freeze kind of in that. And there's a reason for the Amygdala. It's to get us out of harm's way. I would imagine that many people that have this kind of panicky inner voice at times, or anxious inner voice, it could be triggered, or it could have that amygdala filter on, whereas it's kind of and unfortunately, a lot of us will drop into that reptilian part of ourselves when it's not necessary, right? We're not being chased by a saber-toothed tiger, but boy, it sure feels like it right in that moment and you're just in that reactive state. But again, the more we can become conscious of those things, the more we can alter it. And one of my favorite people, Jill Bolte Taylor, who's a neuroscientist, and we've talked about the 92nd rule before, really talks about how a lot and I think a lot of the emotions that we feel really actually only last for 90 seconds. There are chemical washes that overcome us, and they only have to maintain for 90 seconds. But every time we feed the emotion by talking about it, by thinking about it, by being it, then we've got another 90 seconds. And if we can distract ourselves for 90 seconds, that wash can dissipate, and we can be more rational again. so that's a really interesting thought. And you can use your inner voice to help you get through it. So, for example, you can count backwards from 90. I say backwards for my little kids, I say forwards because it still takes their working memory, their working memory is full to count to 100. But when you get older, it's so automatic, you actually have to count backwards from 90 because that activates, it occupies your mind more so that you can really not think about that for 90 seconds. And if you actually do that, it really works. Then all of a sudden you are aware of it, but you're not in that wash of feeling and emotion. And even my little students say, wow, it really helps if I'm really angry or furious and I count to 90. They're not stuck in that emotion anymore. And then they can be more rational.

        Darius: I wonder if that's why the three-minute rule is so effective for initiating tasks. So here you've got this scenario where you've been putting off this paperwork. And when you look at the paperwork, you feel an emotion, whatever that emotion is. And then you've just had this arrangement with yourself where you say, three minutes. I promise. Three minutes. And we're going to set the timer. Three minutes, et cetera. And you go through it. And that 1st 90 seconds is horrible because you don't want to be doing it. You're feeling that emotion, but you've got that thing in your head where it's like, it's okay, we're just doing this for three minutes. And then once the two minutes have passed, you start doing the task and you think, actually, this isn't as bad as I thought. I think I could maybe do another 510 minutes of this and actually nail it on the head and gosh, that would be quite good. And you get it done and you feel so great. Sometimes after three minutes, you're like, no, I still hate this. I'm going to stop right now. And it's actually a really important thing to do. I was going to talk about this with your inner voice. You have to, in my opinion, develop a social contract with yourself. You have to start being honest with yourself and being consistent with the internal boundaries. So, for example, if you've said to, let's take a real-life scenario, if I had said this to a child, one of my children, I've done this with my children before, I've said, look, we need to do some tidying up. Let's just spend three minutes and I promise if you don't want to tidy up after three minutes, we'll stop, okay? And I'll tell you what, I'll play a song that's three minutes long and it's the tidy, up song. We'll play the song, it's just three minutes long and if you don't want to tidy up after that, that's okay, but we'll just play for those three minutes. If we started to tidy up and then the song stopped and the child said, okay, I'm going to go off. And I looked at the child with disappointment or said no, or did anything that broke my promise, it would break trust with that child to some degree in terms of will he hold to that promise or not? And sometimes that child needs to experience you sticking to your promise six or seven times in a row. Well, dad, you said I could walk away after three minutes. Okay, I did. They walk away, they walk away, they walk away. They walk away. But then the moment happens when they have the trust that they know they could walk away because you've made that promise, but they're going to carry on. And I think we need to have that within ourselves as well. So if we make that deal with ourselves, we do stick to it. We don't just go into domineering parent mode and go, no, damn it, we've just started this. You've just got to be suck it up and do it. If that's the deal that you're going to go into military mode and you go, right, we're just going to suck it up and we're going to graft on this. We're going to do this for 3 hours and that's what we're going to do. And the other part of you goes, do you know what? Yeah, you're right, let's just do it. We're just going to blast this and graft for 3 hours and that's the end of it. Well, you've done a deal with yourself. You didn't do the three-minute deal. You did a three-hour deal, but you did a deal that you stick by, and you honor both sides.

        Erica: It's so funny that you're talking about this because I have a different kind of three deal that I do with myself, okay, which is a three-thing deal. So I am naturally not a tidy person. And when a part of me comes out and says, oh, it's time to tidy, yeah. I'm like, I don't want to do that. So I have the three-thing rule, which is, okay, just put three things away. That's it. Three things. Or take three things with you when you leave the room that belong in other places or that may belong where you're going, but it's the same thing. Whereas I've put three things away, and I'm like, oh, well, here's a fourth. Oh, there's a fifth.

        Darius: Oh, there's a 6th.

        Erica: Oh, look, I'm halfway done, right? But you're right. It calms that situation. And I think you're right. It's somewhat similar to that 92nd rule where you are slowly pulling yourself into an activity in a way that is manageable. And there are a lot of these last-minute kids or last-minute people that can't get started without the adrenaline rush, and they become addicted to that adrenaline, rush. And I think this is a really good strategy for those people where it's just negotiate with yourself. And what are you doing when you're negotiating with yourself is you're using your inner voice. Yeah, I guess you could negotiate visually. That would be and you know what? I'm sure there are people out there that would come up with other ideas as well. But I think having that ability to negotiate with yourself so that you can move through things that are a little bit less comfortable, that you know that you need to get to. But yeah, very interesting. Nice to hear how you do that. And I'm sure I will use that.

        Erica: I like that three minute, because that's a time increment, and that feels very manageable. And I think you're right, I think always sticking to that, because that can change, because after the three minutes, you give them the option, okay, the three minutes is up. Do you want to stop, or do you want to continue? Yeah, and they may stop the first dozen times, but maybe the next time they'll continue. Yes, but even then, it's amazing what you can get done in three minutes. Yes, it's amazing.

        Darius: And I think sometimes you can do this with people, and you can do this with yourself. So if you're doing this with people and it's the same with yourself, is what I'm contending. So treat yourself with the same respect that you would do with other people or your own child sort of thing. When the three minutes is up and they're clearly in the flow, you don't want to disrespect the flow, but you would maybe say something like, you know how I made that three-minute promise? This is three minutes. Now, are you okay keeping going, or do you want to stop. And so it's kind of that quiet voice. I don't want to interrupt you, but I made you a promise that I would bring this to your attention, and I wouldn't trick you into knowing that you would get into the flow and then keep going. So it's really important that, yes, you are tricking yourself to doing it because it is a trick. It's a mental trick to initiate you to doing that task. It's an initiation trick, self-initiation, but it's also not a manipulation. It's not where, you're still saying at that three-minute mark, if you do want to stop this, you can. That they've got the out or you've got that out.

        Erica: I think maybe a better way of wording it would be is it's a strategy? It's a strategy to get through a chemical experience that we're having and that it is a chemical. It's not us. Yes. We're not grumpy. It's a chemical in our brain that's making us feel grumpy. And there's something really beautiful about that because then you don't have to shame yourself.

        Darius: Yes.

        Darius: And isn't it interesting, this whole aspect of time and executive function, which we've talked a little bit about, but maybe we should talk more about it in another episode. But our relationship to time changes according to our emotions. Sometimes you look at that pile of paperwork and you're like, it just feels like it's going to take 3 hours. Or I've got to do that. For me, it's bank transfers. Okay. Bank transfers. I've got a thing with bank transfers being dyslexic. if it's a process that I have to go through that I'm unfamiliar with and I don't do a lot of times, only the smallest thing can stop me, and it can take forever. And so when I look at that process, I think it feels like it's going to take forever, but it's actually only going to take about three to five minutes. But it feels like it's going to take the best part of an hour to get that job done. And so in the back of my mind is like, I've got to find an hour sometime to do that. And you look at your calendar, oh, I can't do it just now because I've only got 35 minutes. And you're like, actually, the rational part of you would say you can do that in three minutes or four minutes, but the emotional part of you is like, no, that totally feels like it's going to be 45 minutes or an hour or a week is what it's feeling like on the inside. And our relationship to time and time management gets affected by our emotional state as well.

        Erica: Yeah, time is such an interesting thing. So we'll definitely have to explore that in the podcast, for sure. I love that.

        Erica: Well, this has been such a cool discussion. I'm so glad I kind of slipped this topic in because I just finished a video on this and I'm just so in that zone. And thank you for letting me pull you into the zone too, because I felt a little resistance. And then once you got on the other end, wow, we had such a beautiful discussion. So thank you so much.

        Darius: I was in the zone, but the resistance is I maybe still have it, but I've warmed to it. Is this thing about treating this self-talk as they external, invading characters, as it were?

        Erica: Well, they can be if it is. For example, you even said that worried Mum voice.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: Not really you it's a voice that you learned externally. I think you're right. I think we do have these kinds of authentic self-voices and then we have voices that might be an old teacher or a parent or an old friend or a grandparent. And maybe it's easier to think about it that way. Are external influences versus internal influences.

        Darius: I like that a lot, actually, because often when I'm talking to myself, thoughts will go through in my mind and I go, that's not me. And the pursuit is what's? You? And, on a bigger level here in this podcast and in our lives, we're really exploring, and you talk about this. What do you say? Higher self or better self?

        Erica: My best self.

        Darius: Your best self? Yes. So for me, it's like being who I really am. I'm still discovering who I am and being committed to who I am. And I also think a big element we've not talked about much is that love is very important within this whole dialogue. And one of the key components of if it's not said in love, then is it really meant to be there speaking to you? That voice, is that really you? Because the adult voice inside of me is a loving voice. It's a sensible, grown up, we're going to do it the right way voice. And then the child voice is not a petulant, angry, cruel. It's a loving voice who wants to be childlike. And so it's that quality of love, I think, that needs to permeate this inner talk, this self-talk.

        Erica: I think that's beautiful. And it's funny because I often talk about it more physical, in a more physical way. I'll say that I need to drop into my heart. I need to drop into my heart space. I need to be hitting that. From that I can feel myself move from my head into my heart. So when I'm coaching, I'll, often and I want to do this every time and I still haven't quite gotten there, but I'm getting there. Make a conscious choice to drop into my heart space. Because when I do, I have a much deeper connection with the person that I'm working with. I have more compassion, I let them lead. It calms my ego. And then there's just like this really nice connection. When I work with whoever I'm working with, but it's making that conscious decision to drop out of my head and into my heart. And when I do that, then it gives me this whole new perspective that enables me to access more of that best self.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: Thank you for joining our conversation here at the Personal Brain Trainer Podcast. This is Dr. Erica Warren and Darius Namdaran.

        Darius: Check out the show notes for links to resources mentioned in the podcast, and please leave us a review and share us on social media. Until next time. Bye.

        Darius: Check out the show notes for links to resources mentioned in the podcast, and please leave us a review and share us on social media. Until next time. Bye.