When I’m facing bouts of depression and anxiety, sometimes it’s hard to see things outside myself. And if I’m spiraling, it becomes almost impossible. If all you’re trying to do is hold on and survive the next minute, hour or day, it’s easy to forget that you aren’t the only one going through this. But as statistics show, you are not even close to being the only one. But I’m different, I would tell myself. No one is suffering in the same way I am. And I know why I thought that so much when I first faced depression. Even now, years later, there are still moments where that’s in the back of my head when I’m in a tough spot. I never viewed myself as a person just like everyone else, so the way I spoke to myself was extremely terrible (it’s still not great now, but it used to be much worse).
I was on the phone with one of my brothers this week when he told me about research regarding self-talk. Basically, you should talk to yourself in the third person. Here’s something I found from Psychology Today:
“When using the third person or “non-first-person” pronouns during self-talk, you do not use pronouns such as I, me, or my. Instead, you speak to yourself (either in a hushed tone or silently inside your own head) using pronouns such as you, he, she, it, or your own first or last name. In recent years, a wide range of studies have found that third-person self-talk can improve emotion regulation and self-control by facilitating self-distancing and reducing egocentric bias.”
It seems a little weird and confusing at first but honestly, it’s more difficult to put yourself down when referring to yourself in the third person. When I refer to myself in the third person I’m talking to myself, in the same way, that I talk to everyone else in my life. And if I talked to those people the way that I sometimes talk to myself…let’s just say I would have fewer people to talk to.
I don’t know about you, but I often forget that I’m a person just like everyone else. Not to get too galaxy brain here, but when you realize you’re just like everyone else, you also understand that means you deserve to be treated like everyone else – with kindness and respect.
I don’t know if this approach will instantly change anyone’s life or shift their thinking immediately, but I will say that this type of self-talk has never made me feel worse than I already did. Which, some days, is more than enough for me.
Have you tried this method of self-talk? How did it go? Let me know in the comments!