Ever wonder why it’s so easy to give friends and family advice but so difficult to take our own advice? The answer is third-person awareness. When a friend or family member comes to us for advice, we listen intently; we take all the facts into consideration and from a somewhat emotionally detached position, then share our golden jewels of wisdom. The answers seem so clear so simple! Who else feels like the premiere therapist amongst their group of friends?

However, when it comes to our own personal challenges, we can only wish for the same instant clarity and simplicity in problem solving unless we understand what it means to practice third-person awareness in our own lives. So what is this awareness? You may ask. How can we remove the very deep emotions connected to trials in our daily lives to ensure the most positive outcomes in challenging situations?

Third-person awareness or TPA involves asking yourself these types of questions:


  • Does this situation resonate with my inner being?
  • What about this situation is benefiting me?
  • What about this situation is not benefitting me?
  • What is the ideal outcome I am looking for?

These types of questions are very pointed, and help to alleviate some of the emotional stress that comes along with making tough decisions in our lives by offering clear and concise information for consideration. The ego, our primary mechanism of relating to the world around us, can cloud the clarity that is always flowing through us by a bombardment of conflicting information causing emotional angst.

For example, say you are in an unhappy relationship and wondering what to do about it. Your ego may say, “He/She is making me unhappy, but I don’t want to be alone.” Or “I just want to find the perfect mate, but no one is perfect.”  A pint of ice cream and twelve episodes of Friends later, you’re still no closer to a solution.  The ego trips us up by supplying all the information we have on a particular issue all at once. Hence the feeling of dissonance during times of confusion.

By practicing TPA via the practice of writing down pointed questions and listing important facts, we are able to quiet or even bypass the ego’s confusing messages and take an outsider's look at what is happening in our lives. This way, we can look at just the facts without involving emotional confusion. The ego tells us that things are happening to us while TPA gives us the understanding that we make things happen. Try taking a third-person look at your life, and see how you play a significant role in your own experiences.