“Life is so simple. A little girl, a little boy. Laughing and loving. Trying to figure out the world” – Lady Gaga ‘Is that alright’
Is life really that simple?
It’s been 9 months since Paxton came and went, and nearly 3 months since my marriage ended and emotion overload has finally hit me square in the face. Additionally, I did spend a good hour talking to a bunch of 2nd year Midwife students about baby loss, so i’m guessing that’s contributed to this blindsided sense of emotional overload.
Throughout these 9 months however, i’ve done more work on my own personal mental development than I have in the entire 32.5 years since being on this Earth. I have learned one solid lesson; the greatest gift you can give yourself is a healthy mindset.
I often wonder what things would have been like if I had spent time earlier in my 20s, developing a stronger sense of resilience, mindfulness and interpersonal skills, so as to be able to communicate more effectively at times of adversity. But I guess I am one of those people that learn by doing, so i’ve only been able to develop these skills coincidently in the most absurd way possible – through the traumatic event itself.
Books* are my saving grace these days. One which I recently consumed mentions that “resilience isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around the backbone.”
Leading psychologist, Martin Seligman found that 3 Ps can stunt recovery of any event in our lives; Personalisation – the belief that we are at fault; Pervasiveness – the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; Permanence – the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.
These 3 Ps can be a useful tool at any given point of our lives. Take the obvious elephant in the room example that follows me; losing a baby and a marriage. During this post traumatic growth period, I could have 1) made it personal and blamed myself. 2) I could have been pervasive and believed that all areas of my life (work, personal, hobbies etc) were also thrown into the pit of despair. 3) I could have made it permanent; I will never be ok again.
BUT, flip those statements around and I have the foundations to mentally craft a different view of my world;
1) Personalisation: Losing a baby wasn’t my fault and I did the best I could during my marriage, with what I knew then.
2) Pervasiveness: Baby loss and marriage are only 2 areas of my life. This event does not apply to work, hobbies or any other personal interests.
3) Permanent: This feeling isn’t going to last forever. Everything is going to work out and i’m going to be ok.
Using the 3 Ps as a tool in any area of our lives, is a way of consciously and constructively re training our mental states little and often. At the end of the day, you are what you tell yourself, so why not make it colourful?
- * Sandberg, S., & Grant, A, (2017). Option B: Facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy. London, United Kingdom: WH Allen