Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why We Should Stop Talking to Ourselves in the First Person

There's a truism in the self-help community that people speak more kindly to others than they do to themselves. For instance, if I were to spill red wine on my blouse I'd berate myself for always being so clumsy. But if someone else were to spill wine on my blouse, I'd say, "It's no big deal. I've had this blouse forever." Or, "I've never liked this blouse anyway."

Not only would I minimize the incident to spare their feelings, I'd likely make them feel like they did me a favor. (Just to be clear, this generosity of spirit does not extend to strangers who cut me off in traffic.)

The point is, if we were to cut ourselves as much slack as we do our friends and family members, we might be a little lot happier and more successful.

In the context of weight loss, the negative messages we send ourselves in the first person would sound absurd, if not downright cruel, if we said them to someone else.

"You're so fat

"Why did you eat that whole can of Pringles?"

"You're never going to lose weight."

The obvious solution, then, is to talk to ourselves in the second person as a caring friend instead of a harsh critic.

Turns out some recent scientific research backs this up. Psychologist Ethan Koss from the University of Michigan told two groups of people to prepare for a five-minute speech. Half the people spoke to themselves in the first person; the other half could use either the second or third person.
"People who used 'I' had a mental monologue that sounded something like, 'Oh, my god, how am I going do this? I can't prepare a speech in five minutes without notes. It takes days for me to prepare a speech!'" Koss told NPR.

"People who used their own names, on the other hand, were more likely to give themselves support and advice, saying things like, 'Ethan, you can do this. You've given a ton of speeches before.' These people sounded more rational, and less emotional — perhaps because they were able to get some distance from themselves."
So whether it's the emotional distance we get from speaking to ourselves in the second or third person -- or just the fact that no one would ever be friends with us if we were as mean to them as we are to ourselves -- try talking to yourself as if you were someone else.

I can't believe I just wrote that drivel. Great idea, Nancy!

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More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life

Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

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