Breaking the fourth wall

What is the fourth wall?

The "fourth wall" is a way to explain how we suspend disbelief when watching an talented actor, when actors make the act appear real. Actors sit behind an imaginary wall, ignoring the audience, focus their attention solely on a fictional reality. Once completely absorbed in the fiction, they no become the role. To come across as being real, the fantasy becomes real in the mind of the actor.

"Breaking the fourth wall" is a term used when the actor (or author) either directly references the work they are in to the audience (or reader). It's a temporary suspension (or sidebar) of the story in the midst of the story. You'll recognize this when the actor stares straight at the camera and gives the viewer a grin to let us know we both know it's just make believe. For a moment, the veil of disbelief is lifted. Like zooming out or hitting the pause button.

Breaking the 4th wall is an effective method to avoid getting caught up in the roles we playing. We can use it to see separate people from the roles they play.

To stop and break the 4th wall is to recognize that you are not the role you are playing. Just as you are not your thoughts, you are not your role. The roles we 'play' are in response to the circumstances we find ourselves in. It's easy to get wrapped up in the story.


Among my dad & brothers, I make a comment typical of a male chauvinist. My mom has witnessed this for years. It's not who I am, but certain company, in an effort to fit in, I make a comment indicative of someone in that role. I can see disappointment in her eyes.

I'm playing a role that is not me.

It's easy to get lost in our roles growing up. We don't easily see the distinction that our peers are stuck in roles as well. A put down from an individual we know is nicer than that reflects how we shift into different roles depending on the roles we are surrounded by.

Shifting to a Third Person Perspective

Most of us live in a first person orientation. But what if you began to view your life from the third person perspective?

Speaking from a third-person point of view is as outsider looking in, it's when you use pronouns like he, she, it, or they. First person on the other hand uses pronouns such as I and me. Second person uses pronouns such as you and yours.

When you begin to speak to yourself in the 3rd person, the words of others need not effect you the same way as in the first person.