CRITICISM & Self-distancing (talking about yourself in the 2nd or 3rd person) makes you calmer & able to take criticism

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This research in the Journal of Current Directions in Psychological Science shows that you can handle criticism better if you reflect on yourself using non-first-person pronouns or your own name.  In other words, instead of saying “I felt they really attacked my view,’ you should say, ‘They really attacked Bob.’ This slight nuance of self-distancing has been shown to help you better appraise the situation without personal feelings getting overly involved. Read this research for the science behind this.”

Making Meaning out of Negative Experiences by Self-Distancing

by Ethan Kross (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) and Ozlem Ayduk (University of California, Berkeley), Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(3) 187-191, 2011.


Both common wisdom and findings from multiple areas of research suggest that it is helpful to understand and make meaning out of negative experiences. However, people’s attempts to do so often backfire, leading them to ruminate and feel worse. Here we attempt to shed light on these seemingly contradictory sets of findings by examining the role that self-distancing plays in facilitating adaptive self-reflection. We begin by briefly describing the ‘‘self-reflection paradox.’’ We then define self-distancing, present evidence from multiple levels of analysis that illustrate how this process facilitates adaptive self-reflection, and discuss the basic science and practical implications of this research.

Reprints and permission: DOI: 10.1177/0963721411408883

Download the article here …