You may be able tslk calm your anxiety — and actually do better — by simply talking to yourself in the third person, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that people create distance between themselves and whatever is causing negative emotions, like fear or anxietywhen they self-talk in the third person. So he and some colleagues ran a couple of experiments.
In one, they asked 29 volunteers to look at a set of disturbing and frightening photos two times. One time they asked the volunteers to describe in the first person, that is, using "I," what they were feeling as they were looked at pictures ranging from a man pointing a gun at them to ones showing badly injured people. In another run, the volunteers looked at the same photos, but this time they were told to talk about their feelings in the third person.
As the volunteers watched and spoke, their brain waves were measured with an electroencephalograph, which revealed that emotional brain activity quickly decreased when they referred to themselves in the third person. Can you have both anxiety and depression?
March 1, In a second experiment, 50 volunteers had their brains scanned as they remembered painful experiences in their past. Again, they were told to either think about their feelings in the first person or in the third person. The scans showed that when people talked to themselves in the third person, there was less activity in a brain region that is involved in processing painful emotional events.
In fact, a future experiment will look at whether it will help people who are afraid of dogs or spiders. The new study underscores the power of the language we use to tap into areas of the brain, said Cecile Ladouceur, an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology mee the University of Pittsburgh.