The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance. – Jodi Picoult


Over the holidays, many of us had a wonderful time spending time with family members, getting and receiving gifts, and celebrating with friends. However, many of us were handed one of those setbacks that life seems to deal out from time to time. Such setbacks include, losing a job, losing a loved one, going through a death, or struggling with a breakup, etc. There are many other setbacks I can list by you get the idea.


During these times of our lives, life dealt us a card we probably did not ask for and now we are going to enter a rocky emotional roller coaster time. However, if you are looking to soften the blow and eventually recover and bounce back, then HOW YOU RESPOND to the event will determine how you recover or not.


Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania is widely considered the father of the positive psychology movement. Seligman proposed that OUR ABILITY TO DEAL WITH SETBACKS IS LARGELY DETERMINED BY THREE P’S: Personalization, Pervasiveness, and Permanence.


Personalization is the understanding that not everything that happens to us happens because of us. In other words, if someone close to you passed away suddenly, you may be blaming yourself, “if only I had pushed her harder to go to the doctor, then this may not have happened.” Statements such as those is personalizing the event where you are believing that what happened is somehow because of YOU. Don’t do that! Challenge your thoughts to get a more accurate view of what happened, one that empowers you to bounce back.


Pervasiveness is thinking that the event is somehow now going to globally or specifically affect all areas of your life. In other words, because of what just happened, EVERY SINGLE aspect of your life is now going to be affected negatively! Such thinking will only hamper your efforts at recovery and you will remain in your suffering by making the event more than what it really is. Remember, keep it in perspective.


Permanence refers to how long you feel this event is going to cause you suffering. If you believe that your life will be FOREVER affected and for the remainder of your life you will be suffering, then you are creating more harm for yourself than the actual event did. Certainly, you will struggle and go through a painful period. However, that doesn’t mean you will be suffering and forever damaged! We need to accept our feelings and experiences but realize they will not LAST FOREVER!


Every one of us will be knocked down by life; that is being alive and human. However, we can also learn to be resilient by learning to get back up, dusting ourselves off, wiping the blood and tears away, and then whispering in our minds to “get back in the fight again!” Finding a way to honor those that have passed.


If you find that you are struggling with the three P’s, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with a professional teammate (counselor). There is never a need to fight such a fight on your own!



Chris Swenson is a licensed Couple and Family Therapist currently helping people develop resilience at his private practice counseling office in Sterling, CO (Rhino Wellness Center). To contact Chris, you can call 970-522-0796 or schedule an appointment online at



*Blog photo credit: Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash