San Diego Edition

Third-Person Self-Talk Aids in Emotional Control

Talking to Ourselves Helps

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As reported in Scientific Reports, two studies of 37 and 52 people at Michigan State University have discovered that talking to ourselves in the third person using statements like, “Why is John upset?” instead of, “Why am I upset?” can help improve our ability to control our emotions.

Everyone occasionally engages in internal monologue, an inner voice that guides our moment-to-moment reflections. Now, scientists believe that the language used in the process influences actions differently. The premise is that third-person self-talk leads us to think about ourselves similarly to how we think about others, which provides the psychological distance needed to facilitate self-control.


This article appears in the February 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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