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Why speaking to yourself in the third person makes you wiser - David Robson | Aeon Ideas

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Why speaking to yourself in the third person makes you wiser - David Robson | Aeon Ideas
We credit Socrates with the insight that 'the unexamined life is not worth living' and that to 'know thyself' is the path to true wisdom. But is there a right and a wrong way to go about such self-reflection? Simple rumination - the process of churning your concerns around in your head - isn't the answer.

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Worrying Constantly turns to Depression

We are generally advised to do self-reflection and examine our lives, but we may not be doing it right.

Rumination, the process of recurrent worrying or brooding, is the default process of...

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Third-Person Thinking

Third-person thinking, or talking to yourself about the problem as an outsider, or as a witness, can temporarily improve decision making, according to numerous studies.

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New-Found Wisdom

Talking to yourself in the third person brings clarity, insight and greater emotional regulation about the current situation or problem.

The detachment that being in the third-person offer...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Emotional Clarity And Depression

Studies have found that just having negative feelings isn’t enough to lead to depressive symptoms. You also have to be unable to put a name to your feeling state, and then dwell on trying to ide...

Emotional Regulation

 Is your ability to modulate or control the type of emotion you’re feeling, how long you feel that emotion, how strong it is, and whether you can turn it from negative to positive. Good emotional regulation, lets you get over negative feelings relatively quickly.

Having bad emotional clarity is thought to lead to low emotional regulation, which is linked to depression and rumination.

Emotional Clarity

Involves your ability to identify what you feel with ease. It affects mental health by predisposing people to depression.

This is a “subjective” ability. There is no external objective reference point for naming your emotions. Emotions are also relative qualities, meaning different people have different definitions and experiences for a given emotion. 

We Don't Understand Ourselves

We don't realize that we are a bundle of contradictions and are trying to look for someone who can understand us, while we haven't been able to understand ourselves yet.

We think we are a gre...

We Don't Understand Others

Like us, other people are stuck in the same low-level self-realization: we try to gauge the other person by their looks or family or social status, which is a futile exercise in most cases.

We Don't Know Happiness

We aren't accustomed to being happy or have a misguided idea of what happiness is.

We find the ones who would be right for us, to be wrong for us, because of our lack of experience in what good is, and the fact that we don't associate love with being happy and fulfilled.

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Self-distancing

The act of increasing the psychological distance from your own subjective perspective when assessing events that you experience.

Is an external perspective that you can use when th...

Benefits of self-distancing

  • It can help people cope with difficult events from their past.
  • It can  help people deal with socially distressful situations.
  • Useful because of our tendency to display high levels of wise reasoning when we give advice to others, but not when we decide how to act for ourselves.
  • It reduces decisional biases and improves decision-making during times of information overload.

How to create self-distance

  • Use self-distancing language:  refer to yourself in the second or third-person.
  • Try to view the situation from an alternative viewpoint, that is different from your own.
  • Try to visualize the perspective of  someone you admire, and then ask yourself what would they do in that situation.
  • Try expressive writing: write about your thoughts and feelings when you’re trying to analyze an event that you’ve experienced.