This might seem like one of those posts that Trisha writes to make herself feel better, but stick with her, because this time, there’s some real science behind the weird things she does (and maybe that you do too) that might actually mean Trisha’s mental health is right on track.
In this case, talking to yourself in the third person when you’re trying to keep your emotions in check might actually be beneficial.
A recent study hooked participants up to brain-scanning machines and placed them into two groups. The first groups was instructed to recall specific negative or stressful scenarios in their lives and then ask themselves the question “what am I feeling right now?”. The machines whirred and recorded all the while. The instructions were similar for the second group, with one little tweak – the participants in group 2 asked themselves, “what is [insert their own name] feeling right now?”.
Basically, participants in the second group spoke to themselves as if they were Elmo or the Incredible Hulk.
What the researchers found was that people who talked to themselves in the third person during times of emotional stress coped with their negative emotions more efficiently than those who analyzed their feelings in the first person. The scientists’ propose that, by speaking in the third person, participants effectively removed themselves from the middle of the situation and therefore approached the situation more objectively.
Despite the fact that they were obviously still just as much emotionally in the middle of it as anyone in the first group… Brains are weird.
As if I needed more reasons to talk to myself in the third person, according to the study’s co-author, Ethan Kross, giving yourself a good pep talk in the third (or even second) person can help you to feel calmer before giving a speech and to feel better about your performance afterwards. But why?
Co-author Jason Moser has some thoughts, which he detailed in a press release.
Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others… That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can be useful for regulating emotions.
Basically, it seems like we’re more inclined to be kind to others. We give them more leeway, less judgement, and when we think of ourselves as a friend as opposed to, you know, us, then we extend some of that grace to ourselves, as well.
So learn from Elmo, show some self love, and talk to yourself in the third person.
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