Why You Should Talk to Yourself in the Third Person

This is a VERY interesting article!! I’d love to create some discussion about this. The observation discussed in the article is ready made for tapping. I’m going to incorporate it myself and report on my experience.

I’m very familiar with ‘distancing’ as a therapeutic technique to lessen emotions. For example ‘The Fast Phobia Cure’ developed in the 1970’s by the NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) founders relies entirely on visual dissociation (distancing) 'see yourself sitting in a movie theater watching yourself on the screen’ (double dissociation) and is very predictably useful. This is another way of creating that inner experience using language…2nd and 3rd person pronouns. I’m really interested in exploring this.


I read the article @Glenn and I wish there had been more examples. Is this sort of like asking our inner child what do you want? How can I help you? Would you like me to tap with you?

How could you use it in your life? It is an interesting topic.



My earliest journals sounded like:

“Rick is having a hard time staying positive today. Yet, he knows that he is being well guided in a new way towards well-being. It just takes time. We would say to him, ‘Continue to go within, listen, and follow.’”

“Rick believes at times he has no friends, which is demonstrably untrue. Yet, where does this come from? For Rick it comes from a deeper craving for friends who… connect more intimately with emotion and realness, less hiding more revealing. So, there IS a truth in the feeling ‘Rick has no friends’ is we add… ‘Rick currently has no friends who are engaging with him at the depth he most needs to thrive.’”

And yes, @Glenn, it can be really helpful when tapping! “Even though Rick believes he has no friends…”

I don’t tend to use that by default because most people find it awkward. Of course, inner tapping is initially awkward, too.

I’m enjoying having these fresh ways of exploring energy and tapping. Thanks!


Hi Jean.
Here’s a few ideas that come to mind for me.

Rick has demonstrated, in his response, at least one way to use the ‘distancing’ concept. So, from reading the article, I think there’s several ways of doing this probably. Like Rick did you can use your name. While tapping, “Jean is feeling very ‘X’ at the moment and…” “Jean thinks/feels/is experiencing/…etc…” That sort of thing.

You could also speak of yourself using ‘she’ (3rd person) in the same manner, probably while visualizing yourself in a situation…like you were maybe watching a character in a TV show or movie…“She’s looking very confused and upset…”… or in conjunction with using your name “Jean is sensing danger and she feels uncomfortable…”

Or using 2nd person ‘you’…like you were talking to a friend or to yourself in a mirror maybe. “I can see you are feeling very uncertain right now…” “In that event from 10 years ago you were feeling very sad…”. or in conjunction with using your name “Jean, you have to get you’re shit together!..” I added that because we do tap on those sorts of things we say or command to ourselves…lol.

So you can mix and match a bit I think. You can do this within the context of the past, present or future.

These are a few ideas that immediately come to mind…


That’s great. Thanks for the examples. Do you recall if you intuitively started doing this or is this an idea you got from someone?

I can see that it could be an intuitive move simply because it’s hardwired into language and we feel language on a very deep level so simply ‘knowing’ how to do this seems very likely to me for many people. And one friend of mine comes to mind who does, in certain circumstances, refer to himself by his name. Usually in a funny and self-deprecating manner…“Come on Don!! Get yourself together!” I also notice that I never refer to myself in that way.

And as well I notice that when I’m having negative self-talk, which is way too often, I use 1st person. “I’m such a loser.” “What’s the matter with me!” “I’ll never be any good at this.” So, perhaps simply shifting to 2nd person or 3rd person would begin to soften and bring some uncertainty to the accusations? And once softened a little it would be a smaller, easier step to take to ridding myself of that sort of talk entirely. ‘Ripening the banana’, so to speak… :grin: Worth a try.

I think, for me at least, this would be worthwhile to play with. Probably not for all situations that I might tap on but I can sense how useful this might be.


It was intuitive, just as the information came to me and through me to paper (journaling is where I started).

Shifting it also taps into what I suspect is greater natural kindness and compassion for others than for ourselves. I’d not call any kind of friend a “loser” – and I used to feel/call myself that for a long time (no longer).


That’s interesting that it was a natural understanding for you. We are so deeply wired for language and metaphor that I would think for many people it would be an almost reflexive sort of movement to use language in that way. It wasn’t for me…lol…but we’re not all wired the same. But, I am capable of learning new intuitions and reflexes!!

Yes, I agree with your suspicion about more kindness. I have a friend who once said to me as I was putting myself down…“Hey! Don’t talk to my friend Glenn like that!” It really kind of startled me and the brilliance of it has stayed with me for many years.


@Glenn, thanks. Yes Rick did demonstrate some interesting examples. I don’t remember using the distancing concept this way and it feels so foreign. But I’m willing to try. I have said “Come on dumbass” before but I’m not sure that is distancing. I know that was not a nice name to call myself but it did make me laugh.

“Right now Jean feels a bit frustrated because her old cell phone is giving her a problem and she’d like to throw it out the window into a puddle.” (tap tap) How’s that?


“Come on dumbass” …I’d say there’s some distancing going on there…it implies the word ‘you’ (2nd person)…“come on (you) dumbass”…and that’s probably a good thing if you’re directing it at yourself…lol. It’s not as direct as saying “I’m a dumbass” …instead it creates distance…it’s what you would say to another person if you were inclined to speak to others that way…and I’m guessing you’re not Jean. :slight_smile:

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My friend Jennifer said that to me! I can still remember exactly where we were when she said it, too.

“Don’t talk to my friend like that!”

So impactful in a Good Way.


I don’t think I quite understand…

Can you say more or is it just all confusing?

In a simple way:

“I believe I never finish anything.” (first person)

“Norene has this belief that she never finishes anything” (third person)

Third person can give some distance.

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I was wishing for more examples as well, Jean. So I told Margo that it’d be an interesting experiment if she’d like to try it. She might have fun with it.


Basically you would replace the pronoun ‘I’ with your name and/or the pronoun ‘she’ in any tapping statement…like Rick has shown.

A setup statement then would change from “Even though I…” into “Even though Norene…” Eg: “Even though Norene is feeling sad, she loves and accepts herself completely”.

You can also experiment with 2nd person pronouns. Eg: So you might say to yourself as a setup “Even though you are feeling sad, you love and accept yourself completely.”

It’s not just for a setup statement of course…you can replace ‘I’ with ‘Norene/she’ when tapping on all the points as well.

The idea is that you are now talking to yourself in a ‘distanced’ way, as if you were speaking to another person. The observation from the research indicates that for many people this can create less of an attachment to a strong, unwanted emotion.


Glenn thinks you should give it a whirl…wait a minute! Who said that?!! :thinking:


Norene thinks she better understands now, thanks to all the above!! Oh, and this is the first time ever that I’ve used my proper name in writing a response / journaling! It feels really awkward! kinda like the Royal We! I do remember realizing a shift was taking place when “Be impeccable with your word” evolved into “Norene, you are impeccable with your word.”


Thanks for explaining, Glenn. Replacing the pronoun “I” simply doesn’t sit well with me, especially if the desired result is to “distance” oneself from strong, unwanted emotions that occur because they need one’s attention.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. _____Desmond Tutu

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I’m known to speak to myself in very negative
Tones ! I can now see how I can benefit by
Turning my self talk around . I want to encourage myself to seek more joy. I think I can manifest that conversation which will serve me best !


I do that as well WAY too often Lourdes…saying awful things to myself about myself. What we might try is when we notice ourselves saying something negative about ourselves we can repeat the statement but using our names or the pronoun ‘you’ or ‘she’ instead of saying ‘I’ and see how it might change the feeling of the negative comment. It might even make it seem unreal or ridiculous which could be a step in the right direction.

So for me “I’m such a loser” would become “Glenn’s such a loser.” or “You’re such a loser”…and tapping on that. And we could further it by asking “What does Glenn need to do in this situation…” or “Does he even see that he has so many talents and…”…and tap on that sort of thing.

I guess for me the overall idea is that switching pronouns can shake things out a bit…can create some space…can soften the attachment to being certain about those negative self-descriptions… ‘I’ statements can create the sense that something is simply the truth…so softening that certainty might be a useful thing.

I’m going to play with this idea a bit and see what I experience.


Jean read your post and thinks Margo has a good sense of humor. :wink: