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Mastering Choices: The Power of Second Person Perspective in Decision-Making

Wayne Blackshear

4 min read

Jan 11

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“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” — Plato


We have all been there…


Frustrated


Confused


Angry


Afraid


What should I do? What’s going to happen? What if I make the right decision? What if I make a bad decision? What if…? I don’t know what to do. How am I going to figure this out?


We all have these questions in our head. Constantly, all the time they loom over us. Some decisions are as simple as a shirt color for the day, and other decisions that will cary much weight.


Everything is intertwined.


When faced with challenging decisions we can become paralyzed from making decisions; too afraid of any outcome, more afraid of not doing anything. I think the worst thing we can do is not make a decision, and let emotion get the the better of us.


Through practice, viewing yourself and your situations through a lens of second person perspective, you will be able to improve your decision making.


What does this mean? — I think analogies are one of the best way to explain things.

I used to play a lot of video games. Imagine you’re playing a role-playing game. Your character is at a crucial point, facing a decision that could change the course of their journey. As the player, you’re not the character; you’re the one in control of the character. The character is you. You have to decide: do you take the risky path that could lead to great rewards, or the safer route with known outcomes?


This is similar to using the second person perspective in your life. When you’re faced with a tough decision, step back and think of yourself as a character in a game. What advice would you give them? What would you tell them; and how? This approach can help separate you from the immediacy and emotional weight of the situation, allowing for clearer, more objective thinking.


When I view myself from the second person perspective, I open up new avenues for objective decision making. I advise myself as if I were a separate person controlling me.

This mental shift from “I” to “you” creates a space for clearer thinking, free from the usual emotional biases.


I am standing in the grocery store isle looking at yogurt. I pick up a container of the sugar-laden one. I know I should get the plain greek yogurt with no sugar instead because I want to be healthier, but this one tastes so good. I remember the strawberry flavor, the smoothness, and the way it made me feel. Maybe I should get the peach one, or the blueberry. Ugh, I am starving right now.


Stop!


You need to talk to yourself, not make an impulse purchase based on emotion that will lead to less than desirable health outcome.


You need to reframe your thoughts.


Look at this person in the yogurt isle. Excuse me, hey, you, yes you, do you know that specific yogurt is full of sugar? What are you trying to do, wreck your health with more sugar. You should get the greek yogurt next to it. That one has no sugar. You will feel better after eating it, and you also won’t feel guilty like you did last time.

You do remember last time don’t you? Yea, you said “never again”. “Next time I will get the greek yogurt”. You said that last time and this time is now. You should put this one down, and pick the other one.


Take a look at this, it illustrates a simple but effective way to talk to yourself when making decisions. I took an approach to challenge my own guilt and play a bit of negative direction by bringing light to the “wrecking of my health”. This was a personal and deliberate decision. My frame of reference is that of a health-conscious individual.

My world revolves around it, and any attack on it really kicks me into gear.


Use what gets you going. Everyone is different. You have to know how to push your own buttons. You should push your own buttons, and often. You will naturally react less when other people push your buttons too. It comes with the territory. It will make you more resilient.


First, it reframes the subject (which is you) in the second person. That allows you to direct yourself from the outside. You become detached from the emotional aspect of the situation and are still in control.


You are able to remind yourself of your goals, and provide a recommendation. Imagine that you are physically standing behind yourself but in control of your actions. You command these actions through input of talk. You are directing yourself in real time.


Second, this can last a few seconds, or hours, or longer. When you are in this state, you are able to be direct with yourself. You drop out of feeling emotional about the “thing”, yogurt in this case. With practice this can actually cause your feeling of hunger and cravings to subside, long enough to make the decision that you really want to make. It distracts you for a brief moment. Its just like when you bit your tongue and it is painful, then you stub your toe, for a bit, you don’t feel your tongue anymore.


Third, realize this practice takes time. It took me years to be able to do this on command. I used to think it was crazy until I tried it. It sounded all “woo woo” to me. Now I am able to use it for lots of different types of decisions. It is particularly effective in high-stress scenarios and complex problem solving.


Emotional decisions are not necessarily bad, but if your goal is to make rational decisions, by framing your thoughts as someone else’s directed towards yourself, you gain clarity and foresight over your decisions, enabling smarter choices and improved problem solving skills.


Give this a try, it may take a few attempts, and you will probably feel silly the first few times. Don’t worry, it’s normal. If you decide you don’t like it, or it is not for you, then no worries, you will probably get a good laugh nevertheless the first time you try it anyways.


Take Care.

-Wayne

Wayne Blackshear

4 min read

Jan 11

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