Talking to yourself in the third person helps to regulate emotions effortlessly
Michigan State University researchers together with scientists from the University of Michigan discovered that talking to oneself in the third person is an easy and quick way to gain control over unpleasant emotions.
For example, if a person named experienced a break up, he may say to himself, “Why is John upset?” This would be less painful than asking, “Why am I upset?”
The authors of the study say that talking to oneself in the third person makes people view their own situation more in a way how they would approach someone else’s predicament. Brain scans confirmed that indeed self-chat in a third person caused different reaction as opposed to thinking in the first person, Science Daily reported.
In the first experiment participants were shown horrid images and asked to react in the first and third person. The participants’ brain activity was recorded. The brain activity decreased substantially when a study subject was talking about the images in the third person. At the same time, there was no more effort required for the third-person self-talk as compared to the first-person conversation.
Participants were asked to recall a painful experience from their past. They were talking about it in the third and first person. Brain activity was also measured. Again, there was less activity recorded when using a third-person self-talk. The efforts spent on both versions of self-chat were similar.
Professor of psychology Ethan Cross from the Emotion and Self-Control lab said it was exciting that results of two different studies had shown the same trend. “Third-person self-talk may constitute a relatively effortless form of emotion regulation,” Cross said.
If this is true, it could be helpful to learn thinking about our predicaments in the third person. You can try it any time and it doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription!
Photo: Michigan State University