Feeling overwhelmed by your problems? There could be a simple fix to soothe your stresses: think about them in the third-person instead of the first-person.
“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,” Jason Moser, an associate professor of psychology from Michigan State University (MSU), said in a statement.
“That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions.”
In case you forgot high-school English lessons, a quick primer on grammatical person, which basically just describes what perspective is being spoken or written from:
First person: I am writing this sentence.
Second person: You are reading this sentence.
Third person: Sam feels weird writing about himself in the third person.
Researchers from MSU and the University of Michigan (UM) determined that third-person is a simple and relatively effortless way of relieving stress via a number of experiments. These involved hooking participants to brain-scanning machines and exposing them to upsetting stimuli, which they pondered in different ways.
“What’s really exciting here 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,” said UM psychology professor Ethan Kross.
“If this ends up being true — we won’t know until more research is done — there are lots of important implications these findings have for our basic understanding of how self-control works, and for how to help people control their emotions in daily life.”