“How do you stay positive even when it feels like your world is falling apart?”.
That was the last line in an email I received last month.
The writer of the email? A woman I worked with in my School of Champions.
She’s going through a divorce and finding things pretty tough at the moment (she gave me her permission to share this).
I get a lot of emails like this one.
Usually, I’ll link people to some of the resources I have for getting through hard times, but this time I shared something different.
It’s a cool theory, developed by a guy called Martin Seligman, called the “Three P’s”.
Seligman believes these three things have a massive impact on how we recover from hard times.
Now, I’m not the psychologist, so I’ll let Seligman’s words explain what they are:
The Three P’s
(1) Personalization—the belief that we are at fault;
(2) Pervasiveness—the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and
(3) Permanence—the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.
In my words now:
If you personalise a problem, believe it will impact all areas of your life, and believe it will always be a problem – your recovery will be stunted.
I wasn’t familiar with this idea when I was recovering from the fire, but looking back on it, the Three P’s played a big role in how I recovered then AND they continue to play a big role in how I get through tough times today.
Personalisation: I remind myself that not everything that happens to me happens because of me. It’s not always about me!
Pervasiveness: not all aspects of my life are horrible. So after my accident, I reminded myself of everything I had to be grateful for.
Permanence: adding the word ‘yet’ to my vocabulary helped me immensely. So instead of “I can’t do it”, I said “I can’t do it yet”. I also remove words like “never” and “always” – another sign of permanence. Try “sometimes”, “lately” etc.
And for my lovely friend going through a divorce? She wrote to me again this week and said the three P’s are really helping her.
She said she’s reminding herself that she’s not responsible for every part of her marriage breakdown, she’s practising more gratitude, and she’s looking to the future knowing that she won’t always feel this way.
If you’re going through a hard time – whether that’s a stressful period of work, grief, loss, sickness or trauma – have a think about those three P’s and how they might be playing a role in how you overcome it.
And remember – if you’re going through a hard time, it’s OK to ask for help! My psychologist was instrumental in my recovery process.
OK, I want to hear from you.
Can you recognise the Three P’s playing out in your life? If so, what are some ways you can beat them?
Let me know over in the comments below.
PS – Also, like I said above: if you’re having a hard time or maybe feeling anxious, depressed or like you just need some support, I would strongly suggest you seek the support of a psychologist, counsellor or other mental health professional. My psychologist was instrumental in my recovery process and it’s OK to ask for help! Take a look at some of these resources here.