The Three P's: The Keys to Resilience

In last week’s newsletter I discussed the concept of the the Three C’s. I received a lot of great feedback on this, so this week I bring to you another resilience building mindset.

Martin Seligman, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, famously known as the father of positive psychology, has devoted his life to uncovering the positive psychological intricacies behind resilience, learned helplessness, depression, optimism and pessimism.”

In his book, Learned Optimism (1991), Seligman breaks down the idea of explanatory style, or the psychological attribute in which people explain to themselves why they experience a particular event, either positive or negative.

This style can be broken down into three steps, also known as the “Three P’s”:


In order to achieve post-traumatic growth, avoiding permanence is key. This is the mindset that a bad situation will last forever. Those who view setbacks as temporary bouts of adversity are able to acknowledge these negative circumstances and adapt for the future. For instance, they might say, “I didn’t do well on that marketing test” rather than “I suck at marketing.”


Pervasiveness is the belief that a negative experience is universal, or that it will impact all facets of life. Resilient people don’t let disappointments or bad events affect unrelated areas of their lives.


Optimistic people don’t blame themselves in the wake of bad events. Instead, they credit external events, or other people, as the cause. By not assuming the blame for situations that are out of our control, we maintain a greater level of happiness compared to those who internalize the blame and believe they are worthless, talentless, and unlovable.

In her 2016 UC Berkley Commencement Speech, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “Just as our bodies have a physiological immune system,” she said, “our brains have a psychological immune system. And there are steps you can take to help kick it into gear.”

Given everything that’s going on right now, our psychological immune system is in equally as much danger as our physiological immune system. It’s more important than ever to take the necessary precautions to ensure that both stay intact.

© Randy Ginsburg, 2020 | Want to chat? Email me at