Entrepreneurs face challenges on a daily basis, and it’s not always easy to talk yourself down when you experience negative emotions.
For example, think about how you typically talk to a friend who needs support. Chances are, you extend compassion and understanding in their direction. Now consider how you manage your own emotional hurdles. Do you approach them with the same sense of clarity and balance? Probably not. And for good reason: it’s much harder to manage negative emotions when you lack distance from the subject at hand.
The Power of Third-Person Self-Talk
While the power of positive self-talk is well documented, new research shows that talking to yourself in the third person, rather than the first can help you manage difficult emotions more effectively.
In a new study, researchers discovered that when people refer to themselves by their own name or third-person pronouns, it helps them gain psychological distance from negative self-talk—enough to boost their emotional control in a big way.
Specifically, they found that participants experienced less distress when they analyzed their feelings towards events using their own name, rather than “I” or “me”.
Researchers also found that this trick doesn’t take up a lot of mental energy or time like, for example, deep meditation does. In fact, it’s very easy to substitute one pronoun for another. You just have to practice.
This 2-second, self-talk tweak can help improve your confidence. Here's how you can implement it today:
Take On Your Inner Critic
In business and creative endeavors, we frequently go to battle with our inner critic. Thoughts like:
- Why can’t I just figure this out?
- I’m good, but not good enough.
- I should just give up.
When you face strong negative emotions, like anxiety, stress or self-doubt, using third-person self-talk can be a game-changer that gives you of a psychological edge.
Instead of telling myself, “I can’t do this” or “This is too overwhelming, I’m freaking out” the study suggests that simply reflecting and reframing that as “What is [your name] feeling right now? [Your name] is feeling afraid and angry”, can lower distress.
The result of third-person self-talk, cognitively speaking, is brain activity that’s less emotionally charged.
Practically speaking, it gives you more control over your emotions so that you can approach problems with calm and creativity.
Don’t Knock It 'Til You Try it
When you first try implementing this technique, you might feel silly.
But by making it a regular part of your routine, you’ll condition yourself to be less influenced by negative emotions and thoughts, which factors heavily into your success in business and life.
How we view ourselves has a significant impact on what we can achieve, and any trick that renders negative thoughts less powerful is worth exploring.
If it’s hard at first, talk silently in your head or write your third-person thoughts down on paper. Or, if you prefer, have that talk out loud and embrace the strangeness of it.
Any way you slice it, you’re changing the conversation, and that's what matters.