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Episode 42 — Let’s Talk About That Voice In Your Head

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About this episode

Do you have someone chattering at you all day long and that someone is you? If so, you’re in good company. This is the common human condition. Sometimes though it feels like it’s getting in the way. If you’ve ever had that experience, you will enjoy this episode as we unpack the voice in your head. We will be talking about how to manage this ever present voice and how to use it to best effect. Read the articles ”Do You Have a Lot On Your Mind?” and “The Problem with Patterns“.

Hosted by Bitesize Bio’s own Dr. Nick Oswald featuring Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas.

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This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.

Voiceover (00:08):
This is The Happy Scientist podcast. Each episode is designed to make you more focused, more productive, and more satisfied in the lab. You can find us online at Your hosts are Kenneth Vogt, founder of the executive coaching from Vera Claritas and Dr. Nick Oswald, PhD bio-scientist and founder of Bitesize Bio.

Nick Oswald (00:39):
Hello and welcome to another edition of the happy scientist podcast. There’s of course, it’s the place to be. If you want to become a happier, healthier, and more productive scientist. I’m Nick Oswald, the founder of Bitesize Bio. And today we will be drawing again on the wisdom of Mr. Kenneth Vogt. Ken is my friend mentor the Bitesize Bio coach and the founder of the executive mentoring company Vera Claritas today. And in all other Happy Scientist podcasts episodes, you get to benefit from his words of wisdom to help you to increase your performance, enjoyment, and success in the lab. And this episode, we’ll be discussing that voice inside your head. You know, the one, the one that always has something to say always thinks it knows best and as your worst critic. So without further ado, Ken, let’s talk about that voice in your head.

Kenneth Vogt (01:32):
All right. Let’s talk about that voice in your head. So yeah, the first thought I want to start with a disclaimer. I am not a psychotherapist. I am not an attorney. I am not a public accountant. I am not your bartender. That’s not what this is about folks. If you really, if you truly are having trouble with voices in your head, by all means, seek some counseling, but I’m talking about what all of us encounter. We all have a voice in your head. In fact, we all probably have multiple voices in our heads that are talking to us all day long and they just never stop. It’s just constantly there now in some, some fashion it’s very useful and very comforting. It’s, it’s familiar. You know, we know what this voice is going to say in certain situations. And if we have more than one voice, you know, we may have voices in our heads from people that have been very influential to us.

Kenneth Vogt (02:37):
So we may hear, we may hear our mothers say things to us or our favorite teacher, but from the past, or, you know, or, or a trusted confidant, it’s possible to, you can have voices that are not favorable. They’re they’re from some, you know, some bullying on the playground or some, some abuser that has been in our life. You know, that can happen too. But for the part today, we’re going to talk about the positive voice, the voice that is your constant companion, and is there trying to help, it’s there to keep you safe. It’s there to keep you alive. It’s there to, to make things turn out well for you, at least from its perspective. And so you’re familiar with those thoughts that this is the voice that tells you, like, you’re not going to go get that second doughnut now, are you? Oh yeah, yeah.

Kenneth Vogt (03:26):
Okay. This is, that voice is useful. It’s like, no, I’m not having a third cup of coffee. I’m feeling wired already. We’re going to stop now. And that voice will often speak to you as, as you, you know, so it’s not going to say you shouldn’t have a third cup of coffee. It’s going to say, I shouldn’t have a third cup of coffee. You know, the there’s, there’s a connection there that we, you know, w it can become very personal to us, and we can very much identify with this voice. Okay. But what this voice is doing, since it doesn’t have any of the means to speak to us, it doesn’t, it doesn’t have a mouth to speak with. It’s. It’s just, it’s just a thought. So we’re going to talk about thoughts and what happens when you have thoughts and w and where do they come from and are they mine, or did they come from somewhere else?

Kenneth Vogt (04:29):
Do I have to take ownership of them? Cause I thought it and are these thoughts? Me? Are, are they, are they the quintessential essence of who I am? So I want to start off with Oxford dictionary, definition of thought, and their definition is an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind, I thought that, or was very telling, because a thought is something you sink. Well, duh. Yeah. There’s, you know, these are coming from the same root word, but something that occurs suddenly in your mind, isn’t that interesting. And if you think about most thoughts, that is exactly what happens. You don’t sit down to think a thought and, and then, and then produce something. This is, this is generally speaking. Thoughts just kind of arrive and they arrive in your mind. So, so that leads to the second definition we need to give.

Kenneth Vogt (05:38):
What is the actual dictionary think about mind? It says it is the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experience to think, and to feel so that again, you know, if you just think if your mind is just a, for your thinking, that’s one thing. But if it’s a place for you to become aware of everything around you, to be aware of your experiences, to think, and to feel that’s much broader context. And that is the, that is the environment in which thoughts, arrive and thoughts arrive in many different ways, they may arrive as language. And, you know, we often, when we think about the voice in our head, we’re thinking about the words that speaking, but, but not all thoughts come as language. Thoughts can come as sounds or, you know, that are not words, or they can come as, as pictures or they can come as feelings.

Kenneth Vogt (06:39):
Is it as for boatings or about, or anticipations of things. There’s all kinds of all kinds of ways to, to have that voice in your head, reach out to you and to give you information. And it’s useful. I mean, it’s very useful if you didn’t have that going on, you would by definition be unconscious and you know, what good is that not going to get much done there? And the fact is we, you know, we spend a third of our life. I’m conscious as it is, you know? So the two-thirds of we’re supposed to be awake. We kind of want to make use up.

Kenneth Vogt (07:20):
So, so here we’ve established that thoughts of this is a pretty broad category of things that we experience in our mind. But, but it does lead to a question like, where do these thoughts come from? And if you, if you ponder how thoughts come to you, if you consider that, you’re going to realize that generally speaking, they just arrive. Now, granted, sometimes they are triggered by something. They might be a response to an event, but the fact is often thoughts arrive. Totally unbidden we, we didn’t ask for the slot and often we’re not really, we’re not ready for it or, or not real happy that it’s there. You know, if you have a thought that I looked ugly today, that just comes to you out of nowhere, that’s not a welcome thought. I don’t want to hear that. You know, but on the other hand, maybe it’s just a, I’m not very politically correct way of saying, you know, you could do a little better dressing or combing your hair or, or getting a better shave today.

Kenneth Vogt (08:34):
You know, there, these thoughts can still be useful, even though they just show up like that. And we need to look at, they go, well, how did that happen? Why did I take notice that today I need to pay more attention to my physical appearance? Well, there could be all kinds of triggers for that, but these thoughts are not coming because I made the decision today to be more aware of my physical appearance. And so then therefore I had a thought to be more aware of my physical appearance. It’s like, it’s not really how it works and that’s not our experience. And it’s not, not just one person’s experience. This is the unique, nah, this isn’t a unique experience. This is the common human experience. That thoughts just arrive. Now I can feel some of you out there bristling at this. Cause you’ve, you’ve put a lot of a lot of importance behind the fact that you have produced a lot of thinking and, and it’s been very important in your life.

Kenneth Vogt (09:41):
And in fact, you can point to some sheepskins on the wall that prove that you were the originator of your thoughts. But I, I wanna, I wanna pass it to you that they don’t prove that they’re not. So if you don’t believe me, let’s do a little experiment. I’m going to say something and then I want you to create a thought in response. So you’re ready. You’re ready, Nick. Okay. Two plus two equals four. You had a thought and it was four, right? I did think that well. Sure. But, okay. Did you, what process did you use to create the thought for none? It just appeared. It just appeared now. Why, why that, why four and why not? Five? Why not? And possibly for some of you, the answer came to you in another language because you know, that’d be a more familiar language to you, but it was still good, but I, I, I will be willing to bet that it was still translatable into the English word for well, because you know, two plus two equals four, this is information you already have.

Kenneth Vogt (10:59):
And you might think, well, I just pulled that out of my memory bank. So it was like, did you really though, was there some filing system that you’ve, did you rifled through until you got to two plus two equals, did you have to really do any looking around to find that answer? It’s like, oh, it was right there. And, and frankly, that kind of thing happens to you all the time. You get asked questions to which there are ready answers and they just produce themselves. Now, sometimes they’re ready answers. Like this one was like, man, I learned that in first grade or even before, but others are, are things that, that are more complicated. And yet you have this inkling just comes to you. And sometimes we will, we will label those things. We’ll call them hunches or Epiphanes you know what, you’re a little different than a calculation, like a math calculation, but you know, they’re, they’re all, they’re all different.

Kenneth Vogt (11:58):
And yet they all kind of show up the same way. You know, we, we recognize that that when you have a hunter and epiphany all, that’s definitely wasn’t me thinking it up. That was me. I stumbled across something. Well, how is it really any different than stumbling across two plus two equals four? Yeah. It’s, that’s just, it’s just another thing that is true in the world that can be found. Now I want to grant you to, you can find some things that are untrue also, but, but for now we’ll stick to the things that are, that are factually accurate. So you’re really not thinking up your thoughts and you think, well, how much effort do you put into thinking things up. If you’ve ever tried to sit down and write a term paper and you just hit the wall and then you realize I can’t, I can’t create this on purpose.

Kenneth Vogt (12:55):
I have to get into, I have to get into a mode where it flows and that flowing is coming from something, something a little bigger than, you know, the, the apparatus that is, that is parked between our ears. No, and I’m not, I’m not gonna launch into anything about, about consciousness or awareness although deep. Yeah. I mean it can, I mean, there’s certainly there are certainly a, a scientific basis for having confidence in mindfulness. Mindfulness is just budget is about focus. So when you focus on the right things, then thoughts come to you and the better job you do at focusing, the more accurate those thoughts tend to be. And so that’s, that’s the, that’s your job in this is to focus. Your job is to put your awareness on the task at hand what’s in front of you. And, you know, sometimes we don’t want to hear the thoughts that are in our head because we’re, we’re getting thoughts that aren’t very nice.

Kenneth Vogt (14:01):
There’s a, you’re stupid. You’re mean you’re selfish. You know, you’re lazy. Who wants to hear that kind of stuff. But if you’re, if, if the voice in your own head is telling you those things, there’s probably some factual data behind it. Now that’s not to say that it’s entirely accurate if something’s telling you that you’re stupid and you’re ugly that that’s probably not true, not, not entirely, but there may be some things there that it’s signaling you. Like, you know what, you’re not stupid, but you’re acting stupid in this situation because you know, better. Okay. Well now that’s a, that’s a much more nuanced thought, but that’s something you’re gonna, you’re gonna have to put a little more focus on to get otherwise, all you’re going to hear is stupid, stupid, stupid, you know? And that’s not going to be as useful to you.

Kenneth Vogt (14:56):
If you want your thoughts to be useful, then it comes to, comes around to putting some focus on it. So now there’s another thing about thoughts. That’s interesting. That’s interesting that have you ever had a thought and thought, that’s my thought, and we’ve done that. We said, well, I think X. And, and so it becomes very valuable to us now because it’s ours because we’ve taken ownership of it. And that ownership becomes very important to us. And in fact, you know, this discussion so far, we’ve talked about how thoughts are often just arising can be very disturbing to people. Like, are you saying I don’t have any of my own thoughts? What am I doing? You know, I’m just, I’m just wandering around here as a receptacle for these thoughts that are careening in from God knows where, you know, that sounds very, that can sound very disturbing to people, but at the point is that you do get to choose your own thoughts.

Kenneth Vogt (16:01):
And, and there are times that we have thoughts and we reject them. We’ve all had that happen. So, you know, you look at something and you go, oh, I think I’m, I think I’m, I’m going to burn the, the, the meatloaf tonight. And I’m like, no, I’m not, I’m not going to do that. You know, just because you had a thought doesn’t mean you have to take ownership of it. You can, you can accept that and you can reject thoughts and you, and and you have a choice and you can, you can reject thoughts after the fact, just because you’ve accepted a thought doesn’t mean yet, stay that way. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been accepting that thought. If for the longest time you’ve told yourself you’re not good at math. At some point you can stop and say, you know what, I’m going to stop saying that because it’s not true.

Kenneth Vogt (16:50):
I had that experience when I was a kid. I remember in grade school, all these kids complaining about a, how hard math was, math is so hard and your course, I’m you know, I’m in third grade, whatever. I’m an eight year old. I want to, I want to fit into there. And by the end, I’m like, yeah, yeah, math is hard. And then one day I realized, like, I don’t think math is hard. I, why am I agreeing with this? You know? And, and I just stopped. And from that point, I’ve loved math ever since. And, and I realized for many of you, Ms. Like the idea of loving math sounds like an absolute impossibility. You have to understand from my standpoint, there at eight years old, everybody I knew told me math was hard. It, why wouldn’t I believe these people, I trusted them.

Kenneth Vogt (17:38):
They seem like good folks, you know, granted they were all eight years old but what do they know? I didn’t know that at the time, I didn’t have that distinction, but it was enough that I could make, I could choose to reject a thought. And I did. And it changed the trajectory of my life. And I’ll bet you, that you have, you have an example or two or 10 of those in your own life. You do know how to reject thoughts. If they’re not useful to you, and you can reject thoughts that you’ve had for a long time. I think a lot of teenagers have that happen. They get to a point where they realize that, you know what, I’m not a kid anymore. I can look at the world differently. And the same thing happens to the young adults. You know, there’s a process that happens there.

Kenneth Vogt (18:24):
So, you know, if you’re in your twenties, just because you’ve always been X, this means you have to stay that way. You are still quite malleable. And for those of you who are older, I will grant you that it is a little harder to change when you’re older, but it is not impossible. And maintaining your flexibility is very important is as you go on, I was thinking about poem. There’s a couple different articles I’m going to have to. Now I’m going to have to dig them up and put them in the show notes. One has to do with this idea of, of, of the thoughts that come into your head. And I’ll, I’ll find that for you. But then another is about the patterns that we have in life. And when you’re young, you need to develop patterns. Otherwise life is just constant chaos. So you develop a pattern for, you know, how to put your pants on.

Kenneth Vogt (19:16):
You develop a pattern for how to pour a bowl of cereal. And you know, now that you’re older, you think, well, that’s silly. Why would I need a pattern for that one? You didn’t have one. It wasn’t silly at all. So you go through your life and you develop patterns. And then, then you start seeing some real benefits. You know, you start developing patterns, you know, say on the soccer field and you get really good at it. And people start to notice you for that. And they’re like, oh, this is great. And you start to see the benefits of developing patterns. So you develop patterns that you know, that, that you do all your homework and you, and you study before a test and it pays off for you. Well, as you get older, you get to the point where you’ve got so many products stacked up in your brain.

Kenneth Vogt (19:58):
They’re constantly taking over your thinking. These patterns will keep firing thoughts into your head. And while that, that is useful to a point, there is a point where you don’t have time for any internal dialogue anymore where you don’t have time to develop any more patterns. In fact, you probably have patterns for developing patterns as you get older. And so your job as you get older is actually to start discarding patterns that are no longer serving you. And, and you’ll know they’re no longer serving you because, because they will keep generating thoughts that you have to reject you. When you, when you find yourself constantly gone. No, no, no. I’m not going to do that. Or I’m not going to think that way. I’m not going to be that way. Well, then you realize, okay, there’s a pattern here. That’s got to go. And that pattern has been pushing thoughts at you.

Kenneth Vogt (20:50):
So there’s a lot of things that happened to you in your life. And now they are the thought generators because, you know, while I never want to be in that situation again. And, and so it’s going to try and protect you from that. And a lot of these voices that a lot of these, these these thoughts that come to you are, are your, are your ego trying to protect you? It’s trying to keep you safe. And you know, we, we live in a world where the, or people are so concerned about safety. They want to have safe zones and all that. And the fact is, if you think about how your life has been, that’s the times you weren’t safe. When you grew the most, when you got the most done, when you learned the most now grant, you, there are times when you’re not safe, that hurt the most, but you learn a lot from those times too.

Kenneth Vogt (21:43):
So you still have a choice then of what you’re going to do with these thoughts that come to you. So th th the final point I want him, well, I say the final point, the one of the last points I want to make is that this voice in your head is not you it’s. And, and I’ll, I’ll put it this to you too. This way, when you were young, you probably figured out at some point that I am not my body. You, you realize you have a body, but you are not your body. And they’re supposed to know that, you know, if you were to, if you were to lose an arm, would you stop being you? Well, no. You still be, you feel, how would I feel lost? And I would, you still be you? Well, yeah, you’d still be you. What if, what if you lost an eye and an arm and both legs, you’d still be you, you know, there’s, we can start chopping parts off your body, unless we take your head off where you can’t keep living, you’re still going to be used.

Kenneth Vogt (22:48):
So, you know, you are not your body, but that you possess a body and that body is a vehicle for you. And it’s a very useful vehicle. And it’s great. You know, it’s a good thing. You have one, and maybe it’s got some flaws, or maybe it’s got some limitations. So maybe it’s not as good as some at some things, as you wish it was. But at the end of the day, you, you can’t get hung up on the fact that you are not, you know, a star athlete. If you’re not, or you can’t get hung up on the fact that, that somebody else is a better musician than you or somebody else knows more about a topic than you. They’re, they’re better at something, you know, they can do something that you can’t do, because it’s just what your body can do. So, you know, I kind leaked this in here.

Kenneth Vogt (23:32):
You start to realize, well, you know, having a body is kind of the same as having a mind. You are not your mind. You have a mind. And so just as you realize that my body is not me, you can realize your mind is not, you, it’s a tool that you use and you are something greater than that. And so you’re a possessor of a body and a mind. And so these thoughts that are coming through, they’re definitely not you. They are things that are housed in this mind, this just tool of yours. So it’s, it’s like if you have a, had a computer program that that could generate a speech as an example or text, would you think that text was the computer? Like, no, it’s just, it’s just the software running you know, on the computer. And it’s the same thing here.

Kenneth Vogt (24:25):
So these thoughts are just the software running on your mind, you know, in your mind. And, and it’s useful, it’s greatly useful, but it is also very important that you realize you are not your mind, and you are not your thoughts because you can get very past into this and become very limited. If you want freedom, you’re going to realize I’m going to treat this thing as a tool in my possession, under my control on your, my charge. And then I’ll be free to do what I want to do. And you know, and I’m not advocating, you know, crazy freedom here, but I’m talking about where you, you’re not going to be unnecessarily shackled by your thoughts. Cause you may have some disquieting thoughts at times. You may have times when you’re depressed. You may have times when you’re angry, you may have times when you feel despondent or unloved or all kinds of negative things, but none of those things represent you.

Kenneth Vogt (25:26):
You can realize, you know, that’s just something happening around me. It’s not even necessarily happening to you because you can take a look at it and, and realize that, you know, I don’t have to accept that as an, a personal attack. That thought that said that you’re unlovable. Wasn’t real. And it wasn’t right. I mean, it wasn’t correct. You know, it wasn’t accurate. It’s just, it’s just the thought that came by. And so the question you have then is, okay, well, how do we use this voice to get the most benefit for ourselves? So I want to start off by pointing out that sounds can not be overrated. This voice in our head just keeps going and go on and go and going. And we’re so accustomed to it that, that we don’t even run out, even bothered by it, but you, it can be turned off or at least turn down to where it’s no longer registering with you.

Kenneth Vogt (26:24):
And, you know, there are ways to do that, that, you know, and I, and again, I won’t dive too deep into all that, but you know, just, just, just simple sitting back and just quieting your mind. Now you can take that to the answer degree. You can become a master meditator if you want, but but you don’t have to go that to that route. If you could just take a moment and take a breath, just literally focus on your breath for a second, just focus on your breathing and not have to not have to constantly deal with your thoughts. You’re going to find out that it gets, everything gets easier and things get clear. Now I wanna, I wanna, I want to target something. And Nick and I were talking about here recently, so I’m putting you on the spot a little bit, Nick, but so here it goes, I’m going to make a statement here. Worry never helps. Now having made that statement, Nick, why have you ever felt that worry might be important or valuable in your life?

Nick Oswald (27:32):
Yeah. Oh yeah. This is something we talked about recently is that I felt like for certain things, it was my responsibility to feel worried about it so that I would do something about it.

Kenneth Vogt (27:46):
Right. And so worry of course comes as thoughts. And so to feel responsible, you needed to hear those thoughts about, oh, this could really go south on me if I don’t get in front of this. And if I don’t, and if I don’t work really hard, and if I don’t spend a lot of money or, you know, whatever other commitments you have to make to it, and if you don’t do that blond being irresponsible, and now you got the voice telling you that you’re going to be irresponsible. I thought you were an adult. I thought you were a grownup, but you know, I guess not, I guess you’re just a selfish little kid again, you know, and, and you, you, you never, you never took on the mantle of responsibility. You know, the, again, this is, these are the kinds of voices that, that can really be dragging you down.

Kenneth Vogt (28:37):
So if you can have a moment of silence of, of a little, little freedom from that, it would be awesome. So I’ll give you something simple that you can do with thoughts like that, whatever thought it is now, you can, you can get into a whole cycle of stuff where you have a thought that says you’re being irresponsible, and then you have the next thought that counters, that same time, you’re being really hard on yourself here. And so there’s a cycle going on. You’re having a thought now you’re bad for having the thought. Now you’re bad for daring to counter the thought and you know, it could just, it could just be a cafe, any of noise that doesn’t do you any good? So what do you do when you have a thought that you prefer to not have? How do you deal with that?

Kenneth Vogt (29:31):
Well, and here’s the answer when you have that thought, rather than argue with it, rather than deny it rather than call it stupid or, or unreasoning or whatever negative you want, want to call it? How about you just receive it and say to it, thank you for sharing. So when you have a thought that says, you look fat in that dress, thank you for sharing. That’s it. We’re not. And, and you gotta be open to the idea that like, you really have to be thankful. Okay, thank you for offering that opinion. I’m glad I heard it, but you don’t have to validate it. You’re not saying that now. It’s right. It’s correct. And I have to do something about it. No, I, all this voice in your head that is wants is to keep you safe. So all it really wants us to be heard.

Kenneth Vogt (30:34):
You don’t even actually have to act on it. It doesn’t even care that you take action. What he cares is that you’re listening. So when you say to it, thank you for sharing, it feels heard. And what happens when somebody has heard, well, they stopped talking. Well, if you heard me, I don’t need to say it again. And we’ll notice that’s what happens too. When you don’t acknowledge a thought, you will keep hearing over and over again. I should have went to bed earlier. I should’ve went to bed earlier. I should’ve went to bed earlier. I should have went to bed earlier. It’ll never stop until you acknowledge it and give it that. Thank you for sharing.

Kenneth Vogt (31:16):
Now, there are other thoughts that are truly beneficial. Things that are like “man they’re life saving”. It’s like, man, that is a great idea. Oh, I’m so glad that you remembered that I was supposed to pick up the milk on the way home, you know, great reward, those beneficial thoughts, be grateful for them. You know, it’s like, wow, man. I’m so glad I thought of that. And, and give yourself that moment to feel that, that little pleasure, that little joy, that, oh, good. I’m I’m thinking. And I’m thinking usefully, you know, cause for, for those who are listening to this podcast, if you got, as far as you’ve gotten in the field that you’ve gotten, and I imagine that you’re somebody that thinks a lot, and you’ve probably noticed that there are people around you that don’t think so often. And don’t think so deep now that may not be among your colleagues.

Kenneth Vogt (32:12):
They’re probably peers of yours in that regard, but, but other people in life, and it might be people in your family, even your friends, you know, people you grew up with and you might’ve looked at that and then what is wrong with them? Why don’t they think? Why, why does, why do they keep getting into the problems they keep being into? I can see them a mile away because of my brains turned on. You know? So doesn’t, I’m not denigrating the idea that thinking going on thinking it’s very useful. But by the same token, silence is useful too. So you know, now people that where their mind is being silent all the time. I don’t know. I mean silent all the time and that they’re not thinking anything useful, you know, all their, all they’re thinking about is the baseball scores or the latest cartoons, you know?

Kenneth Vogt (32:58):
Okay. That’s not that helpful, but somebody whose mind is truly silent, those people are rare and they’re amazing. And when they have thoughts, they ring like a bell. Cause they’re, you know, they happen without any other distractions. Cause sometimes you have thoughts that are competing in your head at the same time. And you wonder why you can’t focus because, and I got to cut the grass when I get home. And like, oh, before that, I got to go to the store. And well, before that, you know, I think I heard the car making a funny noise and like, oh man, I gotta get this, this report done. And did we figure out how we’re going to do that protocol for the, for this next round of, of experiments? And you’re like, oh man, there’s a meeting tomorrow and I’m not even close to ready.

Kenneth Vogt (33:42):
Yep. All that’s going on at once in your head and, and you’re never going to get anywhere with it. So, so what I’m trying to offer to you is the idea is that if you will give your thoughts, a little bit of a tension, at least to thank them for being there, it’s kind of a, you know, it’s kind of a carrot that you offer to them. And so they’ll stop constantly shouting the same things over and over again. Now you might think that, well, if we’re going to have carrot, we should have stick to. It’s like, well, not necessarily. If you’re negative with yourself, it comes at a cost and there’s really, there’s nothing you can do with a stick. You, if you beat yourself about the things you think up, they’re going to still stick around. Because again, they’re still trying to get a message through to you and when you stop it, when you stop it down, what you’re doing is you’re going to make it, give you the most simplistic message ever, because it’s like, well, this, this, he can’t hear it.

Kenneth Vogt (34:44):
And unless, unless I make it simple cause, and it’s gotta be short. And so that’s when you’re going to get your brain yelling at you and it’s just going to call you names and you know, it’s, you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna get as much use out of it. But if you really want to make use of all these beautiful thoughts to come by and to be more aware when great new ideas come by and epiphanies combined and hunches that lead you in the right direction and save you a lot of time and trouble, you know, this is the way to do it. Give your, give your mind some respect. Don’t, you know, I mean, we, we, we love to denigrate that, oh, that was a good voices in my head. It’s like, yeah, you do in there. And it’s great and it’s useful. And, and, and they’re, they’re there to help. So this is what the thoughts in your head are all about. Wow.

Nick Oswald (35:38):
Okay. I just let you go there because that was a stream, but I was writing some notes down and it’s quite interesting. It’s that whole thing about thinking that, you know, picking apart, what is you as is quite an interesting exercises, a little bit mind blowing? Well, literally sometimes a couple of things. And from what you said, there was you know, you think of, you’re not your body, you’re not your mind. But you, wherever you are getting feedback all the time from your body and your mind. So these are kind of like components, if you like, if you’re the central processing unit or whatever, these are the components that are feeding back to you and in the case of the body, it’s you know, there’s all sorts of stuff, feeling bad about feeling, you, you’re feeling things you’re, you know, senses and whatnot.

Nick Oswald (36:39):
And your thoughts are feeding your mind is feeding back thoughts to you all the time, sometimes spontaneously or apparently spontaneously, and sometimes in response to things that you’ve put to it, you know, like you ask a question of a calculator sort of thing. And so one of the things that occurred to me from what you said there was that you, you mentioned being, or you alluded to being in the zone, you know, if you want it to focus on to do something well that you, you get into the zone or, or you can get into the zone by, you know, if you want to focus on concentrate on writing them, the, the essay you’re mentioning, you have to get in the zone to be able to do that. And that’s clearing your mind enough to be able to to take control of the thought process and or control of what you’re asking your brain to give you back in order to be able to write that the se and likewise, you mentioned being mindful and then also silence, you know being able to sit in silence and that is separating yourself from the thoughts so that you’re back to you and then you back to who you are, if you like or what you are either.

Nick Oswald (37:55):
And and then at that point, you’re, you’re more able to use the mind and the way that you want to use it as a component. Is that accurate?

Kenneth Vogt (38:06):
Yeah. Something you’ve, you’ve alluded to there too. It’s we’re saying out loud is when I say thoughts, I’m speaking in a very bearing broadly, and sometimes people have us make a distinction between the thought and the feeling, but here’s a, an interesting way to think of this to, or to consider this a thought is something you have in your mind, a feeling is something you have in your body. And so once in a better or worse than the other, and I know that there’s a, there’s a masculine, feminine thing about how the masculine things and the feminine fields and, and both sides are well denigrate. The other side for that, there’s nothing to denigrate. They’re, they’re, they’re, they’re both useful and they’re, and they’re both fall into the same category of thoughts is that, that we’re talking about today.

Nick Oswald (38:56):
Okay. And so that, that’s a good clarification. So you’re talking, you are talking about you know, being back in the mindful place or in the zone to write your essay at that point, you are centered in yourself and you are using your mind and you know, to write the essay, or if you’re in the zone to take a kick in football of whatever pre-season of football, you want to take you’re in the zone, you’re, you’re, you’re in the optimal position to take take the Keck, you know, w when you’re, when you come back and it there’s one, cause you’ve taken control of your body, you’ve taken mindful control of your body, which is what mindfulness really is. So as well, you know, we all, we’ve all experienced the, where those inputs and especially the spontaneous inputs or the apartment’s spontaneous inputs are overwhelmed with them.

Nick Oswald (39:52):
Stop us from performing. You know, we have feelings, we have thoughts that are overwhelming. It’s just too much, whether it’s a worry thought or it’s chronic, you know, down on myself or life is no good thoughts or, you know, or I can’t do this type thoughts or X and pains in the body or feelings or whatever it is. And they overwhelm you so that then they feel like that’s you, you know, I am I am fearful. I am, you know, whatever, you know, because you should identity of those thoughts. And so your way, you know, one way to to kind of overcome that issue is to, you know, as, as, as you’ve mentioned in previous episodes to practice my mindfulness. So you get used to being able to step back into you and see the thoughts and feelings as inputs for that they are the other thing you’re talking about it today, just to summarize it as to when a thought is offered to you by your brain, is to get into the habit of just, it just, you know, whatever, as, as use the car to kind of just appease it, it’s like a child coming to you with a thought, you don’t have to act on it.

Nick Oswald (41:07):
You don’t have to believe it, but you think for the thought, and that stops you from fighting against it and creating a loop where you you know, that’s just going to pick up more and more space. Then the other one is that when you have useful thoughts, then be especially grateful for those. And then you start training yourself into having more useful thought that thoughts and, and you know, so that you become, you know, you buy in one way, create practicing mindfulness to separate yourself from your thoughts or on your, your awareness. So that you’re aware of the difference between you and your thoughts. And then on the other hand, training your thoughts to be more beneficial by you know, by not fighting with the, the ones that you don’t want. And by being especially grateful for the ones that are useful, then you start to become, create a situation where your thoughts are more beneficial, but you’re also not overwhelmed by them. Is that, does that make sense? Yeah.

Kenneth Vogt (42:11):
Sounds like you were listening today.

Nick Oswald (42:14):
Oh yeah. I w I, I wrote this down, cause it’s kinda, this is, this is something that I always kind of get tripped up on with this, you know, what is, what are, you know, that, what is you think, what are you you know, that goes, that can, who knows, you know, that, yeah, it’s

Kenneth Vogt (42:32):
A profound question

Nick Oswald (42:33):
As a very profound question, but for a practical solution, you’re not your worry, you know, this is why you say that worrying doesn’t make isn’t useful. Worrying is just your brain popping out solutions to you all the time. And that generally won’t do, you know, it doesn’t even when you don’t need it, you know? And so, you know, by definition it’s not it’s not, you have to fill up that and you have to take control of that. And yeah. Okay. So, and so it’s a good, it’s a good explanation of why meditation mindfulness and stuff like that. What cause it separates is a good example of why or I could the illustration of why doing things like being aware of the thoughts that are passing from your mind into your, into you being aware of those helps. And, and also it’s the, you know, it’s also a good illustration of how, when we get overwhelmed or real, when we get overwhelmed by our thoughts and we don’t use these things to, to fill them or to, to corral them or, or to do you not call them, but to you know, to allow them to just come and go we get them caught.

Nick Oswald (43:56):
We get, we get them, we get caught up in them, how that can cause us big problems.

Kenneth Vogt (44:00):
Yeah. That’s a great metaphor there. The idea of are they caught you know, something’s clot and that’s trapped there. Well, can, can it just go by kink, even if it’s something useful, it doesn’t have to stick around. It can, it can give you an idea for something useful and you can recall it later. It doesn’t have to be put into practice in this moment. You have, you have some freedom there. And so, you know, remember this, this whole apparatus of the mind is there to serve you. It’s a servant to you. It’s not your master. So, you know, you don’t have to do everything it tells you.

Nick Oswald (44:42):
Yeah. It’s like, it’s a bit more like a ma an advanced magic eight ball.

Kenneth Vogt (44:49):

Nick Oswald (44:50):
So would you believe, yeah, sometimes it’s right. Sometimes it isn’t. So if you had a magic eight ball, it was going crazy and just fighting the seeing whatever it is, the different one-liners that you, whatever that thing does, I can’t remember what tells you about would you necessarily, would, would you be selective about what you kind of get to you or would you just believe everything? You know it definitely does take a bit of self-examination and stuff, but I think that that was a really great really great sort of a bit of insight for people to start. Well, maybe they’re already do look at it from themselves if they do, then it gives me a bit of a clarification in some areas. But if you, if people have never looked at this, then it’s certainly I find that certainly a very helpful thing to look at. Yeah.

Kenneth Vogt (45:43):
It’s very, very practical. I mean, obviously we could go down some rabbit holes here, which might be interesting and fun to do, but, you know, for the purpose of, of this podcast, we’re trying to give you practical things that you can use that will help advance your career and help you become a better scientist. And, and by when I say better scientists, I mean, somebody who actually accomplishes more good in the field of science for the benefit of mankind, that’s a pretty high aspiration there, but that’s what we want for you.

Nick Oswald (46:14):
Again, we can make this podcast that we make this about podcast about scientists, because this is, you know, Bitesize Bio caters for scientific audience, and I have a particular interest in science and, and and so we make it for that. You could easily make it for, you know, be a happier ballplayer or a happier lawyer or a happier doctor. And w and, and again, in this particular instance, what we’re talking about is something that’s actually well known, especially in sports, but everywhere as well. It’s about how do you get into the zone and getting into the zone as separate from the thoughts that are saying, I can’t do this, or, or controlling the thoughts that, you know, you’re trying to hit the kick. Of course, if you don’t take, if you tune your thoughts to be that you’re clear, and that at the very least, your mind is neutral and at the very UN and better that it’s thinking a positive pattern towards that, you’re going to make this kick right. Then, then you’re more likely to be a happier and B get the results you want it, but it’s the same in science as well. This is the exactly. It’s

Kenneth Vogt (47:20):
About top performance. Yeah,

Nick Oswald (47:22):
Yeah, yeah. So, yeah, that was very good. I love it when you, when you do that. And it’s just that it’s just captures it and it’s so clear. I might draw that little diagram, that sentence to be a theme that’s happening as well. Like, oh, I’m going to draw this diagram that I wrote in my notes when you were talking and it actually helped me, so it might help other people as well. So sounds good. We’ll put that in the show notes. Okay. So thank you, Ken. Again, another very eye opening eye opening podcast after I have to now click get back into the zone to think about what so again, if this, if this if you want to see the diagram that we will, we will put that in the show notes and the outline of the, of Ken’s outline of the episode. We’ll put that in the show notes, which you can find at This is, I believe is episode 42. Wow. I believe,

Kenneth Vogt (48:29):
Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s the answer to all life and everything credit to a pitcher because of the galaxy.

Nick Oswald (48:35):
Well, that’s, that’s a good one actually, cause this is very fundamental, this one. And if you have anything to if you would like to get involved in conversation with us, ask us questions, just to see hi, you can find us at And I think that leaves us just to say again, thanks Ken for that. And for the work you put into creating that and, and we’ll see you again in the next episode. Very good bye.

Voiceover (49:10):
The Happy Scientist is brought to you by Bitesize Bio, your mentor in the lab. Bitesize bio features, thousands of articles and webinars contributed by hundreds of PhD, scientists and scientific companies who freely offer their hard, won wisdom and solutions to the Bitesize io community.


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