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Self Distancing

Published 2/12/2021

Your own internal voice may need to back off a little bit. Distancing from our self-talk and imagining a distant future (or distant present) might be one important way to reduce negative self-talk and improve decision making.

Mentioned in this episode: Chatter

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Happy Friday, everybody. It's another Friday refill on Developer Tea. Friday refills are a part of Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and these episodes are short pieces of advice to carry you into your weekend. With more energy, hopefully, than you expected. Hopefully this provides you that boost that you need to feel like you are taking the most out of your weekend into the following week. And rather than feeling like a boxer who just lost around, I'm not going to stick with a boxing metaphor, but you end up going into your weekend, feeling rested and excited to spend some time away from work. Knowing that it's going to recharge you and get back into your work on Monday. Today's advice is going to come a bit from a book that I'm reading currently. And I'm not going to steal directly from the book, but I am going to give it credit where credit is due. The book is called Chatterns by a guy named Ethan Cross. Ethan talks about, and I'm about a third of the way through the book and I'm already taking away so many lessons. So I recommend you go and pick up this book. It's just hit the shelves probably this past week. I had pre-ordered it. But in this book, he talks about our inner discussions with ourselves. And there's a lot that the book talks about. I don't want to give away anything because it's so good. But I do want to give you one lesson, one piece of advice that I've learned from this book. And the advice is simple. Distance yourself from yourself. You might have a little bit of fatigue hearing the word distance with all the social distancing that we're having to do during the pandemic. But this idea of distancing yourself, you can actually be pretty harmful to you when you're trying to give yourself advice. And if you try to give yourself advice using terms like I, using the language internally when you're having this chatter, this internal dialogue with yourself, and you use the terms I or me, you're going to have outcomes that are much more emotionally myopic or they're not giving enough perspective to what you're giving advice about. So if you're trying to make a hard decision, if you are facing a difficult situation, maybe you're having an argument, maybe you are in the middle of a very stressful period, maybe you're trying to get past writer's block, whatever it is, where you are struggling against yourself, try to provide some distance. And in the book Ethan talks about a few ways to do that. One of them I've already mentioned, which is during yourself talk, using your own name rather than using your personal pronouns or your kind of first person positioning in that language, use your name. Imagine you're talking about yourself from a distance. What's interesting here, at least for me, is that when I talk about myself using the I, the first person position, I am imagining myself as I feel today, I'm imagining my current cravings or my current mood, but when I talk about myself using my name, when I distance myself by talking about myself in the third person, I imagine the person that I want to be the ideal version of myself. And perhaps this has something to do with why the advice we would give ourselves when we use our third person perspective could be vastly different than when we use that first person perspective. Another thing you can try, and I hope you'll try this soon, is to provide some temporal distance, in the worst time-based distance. The amazing thing about the human mind is that we can imagine, we can create visualizations, even rich visualizations, even of things that don't exist. We can imagine a future, right? One future that's 10 years out into the future, for example. And as it turns out, doing that, imagining the future specifically, can help us have better perspective on our present. You can feel very angry at a very minute thing in the moment, but if you were to try to actually imagine how angry you would be about this thing, even three days, much less five or 10 years from now, it would be virtually no anger at all. And so we can create these new states of thinking in our minds by distancing ourselves from ourselves. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode, another Friday refill of Developer Tea. I hope you have an excellent week. We'll be back on Monday with another episode, and until next time, enjoy your tea.