Illeism (Third Person Thinking)

Referring to oneself in the third person can create psychological distance and objectivity.


Illeism is the practice of referring to oneself in the third person (e.g. they) instead of the first person (e.g. I). This can be used as a mental model to create a psychological distance between the self and one's actions or thoughts. By speaking or thinking about oneself as a separate entity, it becomes possible to assess personal behaviors, decisions, and characteristics more objectively. This detachment can aid in self-reflection, reduce emotional bias, and foster clearer, more impartial thinking. It's a technique sometimes used in therapeutic settings, leadership development, and by public figures to gain unique perspectives on their own actions.


  • Instead of thinking "I need to improve my work performance," considering "John needs to improve his work performance" to gain a clearer perspective on the steps to be taken.

  • A public speaker preparing for a presentation might think, "How would the audience view Maria's speech?" to refine their approach and content.