I’ve had an epiphany. It all comes down to three Ps; and avoiding learned helplessness…
First discovered in dogs and then in humans, Wikipedia takes up the strain here:
Research has found that human reactions to a lack of control differ both between individuals and between situations. For example, learned helplessness sometimes remains specific to one situation but at other times generalizes across situations.
An influential view is that such variations depend on an individual’s attributional or explanatory style. According to this view, how someone interprets or explains adverse events affects their likelihood of acquiring learned helplessness and subsequent depression.
For example, people with pessimistic explanatory style tend to see negative events as permanent (“it will never change”), personal (“it’s my fault”), and pervasive (“I can’t do anything correctly”), are likely to suffer from learned helplessness and depression.
If you want to bounce back fast from setbacks and beat the blues, Martin Seligman’s book and the thesis of learned optimism are well worth a read. It’s certainly working for me.
I’m ruminating less, and actively breaking up permanent, pervasive and personal interpretations of bad situations when I hit them…
I’m regularly reminding myself:
“It’ll pass”, “it’s just one part of my life”, “it’s not me that’s causing this.”
And directing myself – and others – toward action, not helplessness:
“Ok but what can we do about it right now”, “OK if we can’t fix that, what else can we fix” and “if anyone is going to make this better we can, so let’s have a go.”
I feel a lot better, and people around me do too. It transpires the main benefit of pessimism is you predict the future better.
Optimism might help change it.