3 P’s

3 P’s

According to the renowned Psychologist Martin Seligman, our ability to deal with setbacks is largely determined by 3 P’s. These P’s are ways that we see the world:

  • Personalization
  • Permanence
  • Pervasiveness

Personalization is considering yourself at fault for hardship, instead of considering other external factors. Accepting outside factors have caused a bad situation allows us to reduce the blame and criticism we put on ourselves.

Permanence is thinking a bad situation will last forever. Those who think setbacks are temporary have improved ability to accept and adapt for the future.

Pervasiveness is thinking a bad situation applies across all areas of your life, as opposed to only one focused area. People who think bad situations are pervasive feel that all areas of their lives are impacted. This can make it hard to carry on.


Pick a hard experience occurring right now, and try modifying your 3P’s. See the example below

  1. Pick a hard experience occurring right now
  2. Look at the example below as a template
  3. Write out how you could think Personal, Permanent and Pervasive
  4. Now, change your point of view: write out how you could be Impersonal, Impermanent, and Specific


Let’s say you lost your Job. Below are ways you could feel, and ways you could try to change your perspective:


  • I am not a good enough person
  • There’s something wrong with me


  • I will never find a job


  • I also failed as a parent


  • The company is struggling
  • My skill-set did not fit with current needs


  • I will find a job soon


  • This applies to work – it does not apply to my family life, hobbies, social life, or other interests.


This tool is useful in many hard situations to change your perspective. If it works for you, consider practicing it regularly.





One Reply to “3 P’s”

  1. I find this tool very very helpful when dealing with a really hard event eg: Something at work or in a relationship