Beating the three emotional barriers to resilience

Beating the three emotional barriers to resilience
October 17, 2020 Linda Murray

Resilience is a reflection of your ability to adapt to and cope with change, especially when it’s a setback. Looking around, it seems that some people bounce back quite easily while others struggle. Researchers have found that the key to resilience lies in your mindset. What that means is that if you’re one of those who struggle, there is something you can do about it.

Martin Seligman, often referred to as the founder of Positive Psychology, has identified three elements of thought which affect our resilience. Called the 3P’s , they spring from an inner voice which spouts negative thoughts all the time. They shape our thinking into barriers which we don’t see until they are pointed out to us. Professionals call them “cognitive distortions” – a sort of twisted thinking which puts our perceptions out of balance.

Today I’m going to point them out to you, so you can better understand your thoughts and reactions.


This is a type of thinking which is very topical right now in the era of COVID-19. I hear it often. “This is how we’ll have to live from now on…” or “I’ll never be able to go back to work…”

While we all know that nothing lasts forever, it’s the dramatisation of the event which reflects our fear of it.

“I’m stuck here forever…”

“I’ll never have enough money…”

“I’ll never get the experience to apply for that job…”

The moment you use the word ‘never’ or you see no future is the moment you give up. Resilient people accept where they are but understand that they won’t be in that situation forever. They’ve learnt to challenge the perception of permanence.

“I don’t have the experience at the moment, but I can find a way to get it…”


This is about our tendency to take one setback, one mistake, or one failure and apply it to our whole life.

“I let you down… I always let people down…”

“I missed a deadline. I’m incapable of managing my time.”

A setback or failure in one area of your life doesn’t equate to failure in the rest. You are not poor at everything you do. Similarly, if one area of your life is not working out as planned, it doesn’t mean your whole life is doomed.


This is about thinking you’re to blame for the setback even though it happened because of circumstances outside your control. It’s the same as blaming yourself for the coronavirus even though that was nothing to do with you!

Sheryl Sandburg says “…not everything that happens to us happens because of us” and that’s the biggest lesson we need to learn.

These three Ps reflect the way we see ourselves but once we’re aware of them, we can change them. We can stop them disempowering us. Take stock of your thoughts and pick them apart. Look for what’s true and what’s based in fear or drama. Stop looking for the negatives and look for the positives instead.

When you change your thinking, you change your capacity for resilience. Use the 3P’s to assess your thinking and free yourself to bounce back.

Sometimes it helps to have someone probe your thinking and help you to expose those misleading beliefs. If you want help to overcome those barriers to resilience, let’s chat.

Comments (0)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.