Peace of Mind – Does Talking to Yourself in the Third Person Help?

blooming cactus - peace of mind

“To me, wealth is the peace of mind you have, your family, your friends, your colleagues. Everything else is just money, and it really is funny how people pay so much attention to that.”

– Ricardo Salinas Pliego

We all go through times of stress when we need to work hard to regain peace of mind. A new Michigan State University study, though, shows that talking to yourself in the third person when you’re stressed is a low-effort way to help you control your emotions.

“Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions,” says Jason Moser, one of the lead authors of the study.

The full article explains:

We all have an internal monologue that we engage in from time to time; an inner voice that guides our moment-to-moment reflections. Although people frequently engage in such “self-talk”, recent findings indicate that the language they use to refer to the self when they engage in this process influences self-control. Specifically, using one’s own name to refer to the self during introspection, rather than the first-person pronoun “I”, increases peoples’ ability to control their thoughts, feelings, and behavior under stress.

But just how easy is it for people to control their emotions via third-person self-talk ? Emotion regulation, as with many forms of self-control, is typically thought of as an effortful process that depends heavily on cognitive control mechanisms to muffle emotional responses. Might third-person self-talk constitute a relatively effortless form of emotional control that does not require additional cognitive control processes above and beyond those recruited when people typically reflect on negative experiences? Here we suggest that it does. [footnotes omitted]

Moser gives the example that when he’s preparing to give a talk, he might say, “Jason is really scared he’s going to botch the presentation and they’ll all think he’s stupid.”

I don’t think I’ve ever talked to myself in the third person, but looks like I should start.

What about you? How do you talk to yourself?


I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.