the-3-p-principle

Graphic with compliments from James Howard Davies – www.jameshowarddavies.com

I have the honour and privilege of working with the most incredible clients, I joke from time to time that I feel as if it’s I who should pay them for the insights learnt from our appointments! Luckily for my bank balance they don’t take me up on that.

One such wise man shared an insight from Martin Seligman’s book ‘Learned Optimism’. One of Seligman’s focuses is on depression, and in essence he said that depression is linked with feeling helpless. In my opinion this is probably the most accurate word to describe the feeling; in kinesiology we say that depression is a combination of, or one of, the following emotions – grief, anger and boredom. While I still think there is truth in that I don’t believe it gives the essence of depression, the essence of the state for me is helplessness. One of the ways to think ourselves out of the state is to acknowledge the “3 P Principal”. Basically when we are feeling helpless we tend to see the world in one of or all three of the following ways…

  1. We take things PERSONALLY
  2. Whatever we’ve taken personally can become PERVASIVE (ie we think everyone thinks this)
  3. And then the state becomes PERMANENT

Shew! Pretty powerful stuff hey? He gives the analogy of a young fellow at a dance. So this young bloke asks a lass to dance, and she declines. Does he think “This girl thinks I’m such a looser, I’m sure all these girls think I’m not good enough and that’s it! I’ll be single forever!

To think your way out of being helpless you have to find the OPPOSITE of the 3 P’s.

Is our young buck able to break the cycle of the 3 P’s and reframe it?

  1. It may NOT be personal
  2. NOT everybody thinks this
  3. It’s a TEMPORARY state

He could think about it as this …. “Okay, so she said no. Maybe she has a boyfriend? Or I might be having bad luck tonight but I’ll be on top form again tomorrow!”

As soon as you can find even ONE link that’s not personal it’s a lot easier for the state not to become pervasive. Even if all you can do is make the situation temporary, then do that!

Personally for me, I used to get stuck in the “Permanent P”. When I am going through a challenging time, I feel like I’ll always be (insert your state here……sad, disconnected, lonely, sore, heartbroken….). Even if all you can do is acknowledge that it’s a phase and that it’s not permanent, it shifts the helplessness of how you feel.

So maybe give it a bash in your own life, it can be very insightful.