This blog started off in my head as a pet peeve but I think there’s probably more to say about it than that. The pet peeve was to be, people speaking in the third person (and hence not taking responsibility, in my view). Let me explain. Sometimes when I’m watching the news, for instance, I’ll see an interview with someone who’s been burgled or has been a victim of crime. They’re asked “how do you feel?” and they say something like “well you feel upset and angry, fearful and scared”. By the end of that statement I’m shouting at the telly saying “I feel upset! I feel scared!”. By speaking in the third person I believe we are not taking full responsibility for our emotions.
When we are experiencing negative emotions such as upset, anger and fear, speaking about them in the third person is a way of projecting those emotions away from ourselves, to try not to engage with them. It’s a form of self preservation. By not making the impact valid for ourselves and others we look to move on and pretend we’re not affected by difficult events, situations, conversations or feelings. But we are. We are affected by those things and by making our hurt and upset valid, with people that we care about and respect, we can move on from them.
When we speak about things in the third person it’s almost as if we’re talking about someone else, about how we might feel if something like that happened. But it did happen! It happened to you and I think it’s important that we acknowledge that and ask for help if we need it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we should all fall into a heap crying but acknowledging difficult times allows our minds to process them and move on, which is important. Otherwise we can end up walking through life with a growing collection of things that haven’t been processed and that’s not good for our health and wellbeing.
It’s healthy for young people to see their parents and other adults in their lives have difficult times, to deal with them and recover. They see that’s how we build our resilience. If we don’t take responsibility for our emotions and feel able to say things like “I feel upset” then we’re not showing young people that we can struggle, bounce back and move on. If they don’t see us do that, how will they learn that they can do that too? We let young children fail, when they’re learning to speak, write, spell and ride bikes but as we get older we start to expect so much more. We seem to lose the ability to say “ah well, try again” whether that’s for young people or ourselves.
Usually, we will learn from difficult times, even if it’s just to say “I’m not doing that again!” and that’s how we develop. It takes strength to say that we’re struggling but by owning that, making it valid and learning from it we allow our minds to process a situation and settle. Equally if we own the difficult things, then we can own the fab stuff too! “I feel happy, confident and proud”. Those sorts of words don’t always feel comfortable but you don’t have to stand in front of a group with a microphone and say it, you can just say it to yourself! That is proactively taking responsibility for your health and wellbeing – acknowledging and moving on from the difficult things, recognising and embracing your strengths and building resilience. There’s great strength in that
Have a great weekend.
Best wishes, Karen