Talking about myself in the third person

Just now, I was reminded of all the beautiful trees cut down in my neighborhood in Norway over the last couple of decades1. I noticed stress come up in me, and then the reminder that this belongs to this human self.

I said to myself: He is experiencing stress.

I find it helpful to sometimes talk about myself in the third person2. Mostly, I do it in my internal dialog, as a reminder that what’s coming up belongs to this human self. It creates a kind of distance and helps soften any identification. It also reminds me of, and is a pointer to, what I more fundamentally am. It helps me intentionally notice that I am what all of this happens within and as.

It’s also fun – and interesting and useful – to sometimes do the same with others as an intentional exploration.

NOTES

(1) When I grew up here, there were trees everywhere, especially tall birch trees. I loved sitting in the shade of the birches in the summer to read. Over the last two or three decades, there has been an obsession with cutting down all the trees here to “have more sun”. (My parents joined in and cut down their trees.) That has created a kind of desert where it’s impossible to sit outside on sunny days since there is no shade. To me, it seems a kind of insanity. It makes absolutely no sense. There was plenty of sun here even with the trees, they provided an important habitat for many animals and birds, and the shade is crucial if you want to sit outside in the summer. To me, nothing is more enjoyable and beautiful than to sit in the dappled shade of a birch tree.

(2) To be more accurate, it’s the human self that talks about itself in the third person. What I more fundamentally am is what forms itself into all of it and notices it all.

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