Royal advice
Inspiration spread

How to be wiser when you read for yourself

Do you struggle to read tarot cards for yourself? Many tarot readers feel their intuition lets them down when it comes to self-readings. But science may have a solution. It is called ‘illeism.’

Illeism is talking to yourself in the third person as if you’re someone else. Psychologists call it ‘self-distanced’ when you talk about yourself in the second or third person. This is the opposite of ‘self-immersed,’ when we ruminate endlessly about our problems and let our emotions control us.

Illeism is an ancient rhetorical device used by people like Julius Caesar to emphasize their importance.

Instead of asking yourself, “What do I feel about this card?” you ask,

“What does Martie [substitute your own name] feel about this card?”

“What is the challenge Martie is facing?”

“What can Martie do to overcome this challenge?”

Talk about yourself as if you were someone you care about.

Why would you do that? Scientists have found that we are wiser when speak about others than about ourselves. We also make more creative decisions for others than we make for ourselves. In addition, we are more prepared to look at something from someone else’s perspective, admit we don’t know everything, control our emotions and not let them control our words or actions, find compromises, and be willing to change.

Scientists talk about Solomon’s paradox: King Solomon made wise decisions for other people, but not so much for himself.

We already know looking at something from a different perspective increases creativity; it increases the creativity with which you look at a card to find an answer. Research shows that, more than increasing impartiality, illeism can have long-term benefits on your thinking and your emotional life.

Here are more benefits:

  • Illeism will help you ‘fight fair,’ finding compromises instead of dishing out insults.
  • It can improve physical performance, for instance, cycling time improved when people talked to themselves in the second person (this is when you say ‘you’ instead of ‘I’, as in “You can do this.”)
  • It can help you make healthier food choices instead of eating too much or the wrong foods.
  • It is self-control that takes little effort.
  • It can reduce worry and stress; researchers found people assessed their risk of contracting a virus such as Ebola more rationally.
  • And for tarot readers: For this reading, you not only have all the information you need, you also gain impartiality and wisdom.


Furman, C.R., Kross, E., & Gearhardt, A.N. (2020, Mar. 3). Distanced self-talk enhances goal pursuit to eat healthier. Clinical Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/2167702619896366. Retrieved January 20, 2021 from https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702619896366.

Grossmann, I., & Kross, E. (2014). Exploring Solomon's paradox: Self-distancing eliminates the self-other asymmetry in wise reasoning about close relationships in younger and older adults. Psychological Science, 25(8). 1571-1580. DOI: 10.1177/0956797614535400. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614535400.

Hardy, J., Thomas, A.V., & Blanchfield, A.W. (2019). To me, to you: How you say things matters for endurance performance. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37(18). DOI: 10.1177/0956797614535400. Retrieved January 20, 2012, from https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2019.1622240.

Kross, E., Vickers, B.D., Orvell, A., & Gainsburg, I. (2017). Third-person self-talk reduces Ebola worry and risk perception by enhancing rational thinking. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 9(3). 387-409. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from http://selfcontrol.psych.lsa.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/1C35D327-66BD-4B80-A0D2-0EA8DD6E56F5.pdf.

Moser, J.S., Dougherty, A., Mattson, W.I. et al. (2017) Third-person self-talk facilitates emotion regulation without engaging cognitive control: Converging evidence from ERP and fMRI. Scientific Reports, 7. Article number 4519. Retrieved January 20, 2021 from https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-04047-3.

Polman, E., & Emich, K.J. (2011). Decisions for others are more creative than decisions for the self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(4). 492-501. DOI: 10.1177/0146167211398362. Retrieved January 20, 2021 from https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167211398362.

Robson, D. (2019, May 24). A new trial of an ancient rhetorical trick finds it can make you wiser. The British Psychological Society Research Digest. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/05/24/a-new-trial-of-an-ancient-rhetorical-trick-finds-it-can-make-you-wiser/.

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