We’ve all had had friends and family members who have come to us for advice on careers or toxic relationships; as third-party observers, we're blessed with an alternative perspective from which to provide our opinion. But it's always harder to
find ways to give yourself the best advice, isn't it? When you don't have the benefit of hindsight and you're not removed from the situation, it can seem practically impossible to carry out what you'd so easily advise others do in your place. Giving advice might come easily to many of us, but when you're not detached enough from a difficult situation of your own, it can be quite hard to see what an outsider looking in might otherwise find obvious. We often delude ourselves into thinking that we can deal with our own problems in ways that may not be the smartest, but that we hope might produce a our desired outcome.
However, research has found that we have to step outside our own lives if we want to solve our problems. In fact, acting as if we're our own friend, speaking to ourselves with different pronouns, and even writing about ourselves in the third person can facilitate better advice for ourselves. Here are six science-backed ways to give yourself the best advice ever.
Learn To Identify "Solomon's Paradox"
In 2015, technology firm Qualtrics ran a series of studies to examine whether people are better at solving other people's problems than their own. They called the ability to do so "Solomon’s Paradox," after the Biblical character who was known both for his intelligence and his inability to apply that wisdom to his own life — which ultimately led to the end of his kingdom. As reported in Forbes, scientists at the firm made study participants, all of whom were in long-term relationships,
analyze stories centered around interpersonal conflict and infidelity. They found that when people spoke about their friends’ problems, they were 22 percent more willing to try and source more information regarding the issues; when it came to discussing other people's conflict, they were 31 percent more likely to consider the situation from various perspectives; and interestingly, they were 15 percent more willing to consider a compromise solution to others’ problems than they were for their own.
Talk In The Third Person
You might think you'll sound a little odd if you go around referring to yourself in the third person, but research says you'll give yourself better advice if you do. The second study conducted by Qualtrics looked at
why we tend to dish out better advice when it's for others versus ourselves. They split participants into groups two: Those who spoke about their hypothetical infidelity issues using first-person pronouns, such as "I" and "me," and those who spoke about them using the third-person like "she" or "hers." They discovered that the participants using first-person pronouns failed to compromise, use reason, and consider other people's perspectives.
A University of Michigan and University of Waterloo study discovered that when people look at their own problems from the outside-in (that is, as an observer, rather than a participant), they are are able to utilize just as much reason and intelligence in reference to
their own problems as they can with the problems of others. When people use the second-person pronoun "you," it "allows them to give themselves objective, helpful feedback," Ethan Kross, professor of psychology and director of the Self-Control and Emotion Laboratory at the University of Michigan said.
Remind Yourself Of Other People's Advice To You
A 2014 study into
swapping pronouns found that using "you" led to greater performance in several tasks performed. In a write-up of the research on the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog, scientists state that the reason for this additional motivation is down to the way we process the word "you": It's a powerful advice tool because it reminds us of the advice others have given us. We can imagine someone else directing words of wisdom to us, which is far more encouraging than telling ourselves what to do. "The researchers speculate that second-person self-talk may have this beneficial effect because it cues memories of receiving support and encouragement from others, especially in childhood," said Christian Jarrett in the blog post.
Journal In The Third Person
Yep, this second- and third-person thing looks like the one piece of advice we all need to employ. The University of Waterloo and the University of Michigan study also found that that writing about a friend's hypothetical infidelity woes eliminated much of the emotional bias that came with a cheating partner: Participants were
more rational because they were more detached from the situation, reports Medical Daily. So, it's possible that writing about your own problems in the third person might have a similar effect.
According to one study, imagining yourself in the body of another person is the key to providing fool-proof advice to ourselves. Apparently it all comes down to the illusion of being within another body, which alters not only our perception, but also how we think. What's more, volunteers in scientist Sofia Adelaide Osimo's virtual reality experiment were better at helping themselves solve problems when they embodied Sigmund Freud than when they were thinking as themselves. After asking for advice on psychological issues, subjects in Osimo's experiment replied to themselves in the guise of Sigmund Freud and
provided themselves with more "effective" advice.