Monday, March 31, 2014

"I" or "You" Self-Talk and the Brain

Self-talk is powerful and can be positive and helpful or negative and unhelpful depending on how you use it. For years I have talked to myself beginning with:  “I, Arlene Taylor, am . . . .” New studies by a team led by Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan has shown that referring to oneself as “you” (or by your own name) works equally well. Among other things, researchers examined how these different forms of self-talk influence the way people appraise social-anxiety-provoking events. They discovered that use of your name or a non-first person pronoun (you) during internal self-talk helps to distance you from yourself, in a sense, and enables you to regulate your emotions more effectively. It can also help you to appraise future stressors in more challenging and less threatening terms. According to the researchers, these findings demonstrate that small shifts in the language people use to refer to the self during introspection consequentially influence one’s ability to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behavior under social stress, even for vulnerable individuals. I like options. Now I have another option for self-talk:  “You are  . . .” I like it!

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