The verbal trick that can help with strong emotions

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Monday 20 November 2017 15:00
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A new study suggests that this linguistic trick can help you cope when strong emotions are overwhelming you.

Published in the journal Science, the 2017 study looked at the generic use of 'you' and its function psychologically.

According to Ariana Orvell, a psychologist at the University of Michigan by using the word 'you' instead of 'I' to describe emotional experiences, people are able to distance themselves and cope with it.

Orvell, who authored the study wrote,

When people use 'you' to make meaning from negative experiences, it allows them to ‘normalise’ the experience and reflect on it from a distance.

She continued.

Or saying that ‘when you are angry, you say and do things that you will most likely regret’ might actually explain a personal situation, but the individual attempts to make it something many people relate to.

Examples of this kind of distance creating verbal choice, as listed in the study, included:

  • You can actually learn a lot from others who things differently than you.
  • You win some, you lose some.
  • Pride is something that can get in way of your happiness.
  • Sometimes people don’t change, and you have to recognise that you cannot save them

Orvell's study concluded.

We suspect that it’s the ability to move beyond your own perspective to express shared, universal experiences that allows individuals to derive broader meanings from personal events.

HT Spring

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