The 3Ps of Pessimism (And What To Do Instead)

Self Awareness May 31, 2021

You and your partner discuss how you have been talking to each other less since the lockdown started. Instead of finding a solution, you both end up having a bitter argument.

If you look at this situation pessimistically, you might think it is:

Permanent: "I'm never going to patch up with my partner!"

Pervasive: "Our friends are closer to my partner. I don't think I should reach out to them. I'm sure I'll even ruin my assignment today. Great, this is great!"

Powerless: "I'm just tired of these fights. I don't think I can do anything more."

Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, an American psychologist, known for his contribution to positive psychology, calls this the '3Ps of Pessimism.' These 3Ps of Pessimism prevent us from seeing that no problem is permanent, they don't affect all the areas of our life, and there's always something within our control that we can do about it.

Based on the work of Dr. Martin Seligman

We can overcome the 3Ps of Pessimism with 'TIE,' which can help us look at things optimistically. Let's reframe the previous problem with the help of it.

Temporary: "I'm sure we'll patch up soon."

Isolated: "Just because we fought doesn't mean I can't reach out to our mutual friends. Oh, I also have to work on an assignment. Let me better get to that first!"

Effort: "I can talk to my partner in a few hours or tomorrow when we're both calm. I’m sure we can find a way out to spend more time with each other."

It can be difficult to remain optimistic when we face difficulty or a problem, but an optimistic outlook can help us take ownership of our reactions and see a range of possible choices we can make.

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Aprajita Jha

Aprajita Jha is Linchpin at My Emotions Matter and can be reached at [email protected]