August 16, 2017 – Talking in the third person can help you destress fast – this is why
There are lots of techniques that can help you de-stress. From meditating to taking deep breaths; you’ve probably heard them all.
Except for maybe this method.
Turns out all you need to do is stop thinking about yourself in the first person (like, “I’m so upset I didn’t get a promotion), and instead think of yourself in third person, (“Kate is so upset she didn’t get the promotion”).
“Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the brain,” said Jason Moser, MSU associate professor of psychology, who worked on the study.
“That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions.”
The research was based on findings from 37 student volunteers. The researchers showed these participants both emotionally neutral, and disturbing, images.
They then asked them to react to the images in their head by either talking to themselves in the first person (“I feel…”), or the third person (“Kate feels…”).
The researchers monitored the participants’ brain activity through EEG.
When the volunteers talked to themselves in the third person, their brain waves showed reduced activity in the regions involving emotions.
A second study came to a similar conclusion while using brain scans (functional MRIs).
“What’s really exciting here,” said psychology professor Ethan Kross, who was also involved in the study, “is that the brain data from these two complementary experiments suggest that third-person self-talk may constitute a relatively effortless form of emotion regulation.”
She says stress causes our brains to turn on an automatic ‘fight or flight’ response so we can react quickly to a real, or perceived, threat.
“Thinking about yourself in the third person is actually consciously overriding this automatic response and taking back control of your thoughts.”
If talking to yourself in the third person seems a little too ‘out there’ for you, Marny says there are other psychological techniques that can help you calm down, pronto.