One Way to Train Your Brain to Be More Resilient

The women I work with have a few things in common: they are smart, highly motivated and want to make a difference in the world. A lot of them are also stressed and are on their way to or are recovering from burnout.

On the outside, they appear calm and confident. But on the inside, they are scared and worried. Even though they know they cannot go on living like this, they are unsure of where or how to start to change and whether they have the capacity or ability to deal the possible setbacks when the changes don’t go according to plan.


The Power of Explanatory Style

Explanatory style is your way of explaining about events that happen to you. It is a habit of thought learned in childhood/adolescence. Seligman (1990), says “your explanatory style stems directly from your view of your place in the world – whether you think you are valuable and deserving or worthless and hopeless.” 

There are 3 dimensions to your explanatory style (the 3 P’s) –

  • Permanence (is about time): temporary v’s permanent,
  • Pervasiveness (is about space): specific v’s universal, and
  • Personalisation : internal v’s external.

By identifying your explanatory style, you can see if it is more pessimistic or optimistic. The explanatory style of a pessimist is –

  • Permanence (is about time): permanent (i.e. thinking in “always” and “never”),
  • Pervasiveness (is about space): universal (i.e. people who catastrophise – have a challenge or failure in one area of their life and allow if to spread to other areas and believe bad event have universal causes), and
  • Personalisation: external (i.e. blame other people or external events).

The explanatory style of an optimist is –

  • Permanence (is about time): temporary (i.e. thinking in “sometimes” and “latelys”),
  • Pervasiveness (is about space): specific (i.e. optimistic believe that bad events have a specific cause and good events will enhance everything), and
  • Personalisation: internal (i.e. take responsibility and cause good things).


Train Your Brain to Be More Resilient

In her commencement speech at the University of Berkeley, Sheryl Sandberg credited the 3 P’s with changing the way she saw her adversity, following the untimely death of her husband.

As you will see in the following speech, Sandberg explains the 3 P’s –

  • Permanence: “The belief that the sorrow will last forever.” Sandberg said she learned that “we should accept our feelings, but know that they won’t last forever.”
  • Pervasiveness: “The belief that an event will effect all areas of your life.”
  • Personalisation: “This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us” and “Not taking failures personally allows us to recover and even to thrive”.

By becoming aware of your thinking habits, you can train your brain to be more resilient and deal more effectively with challenges and obstacles.


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?

Reference –

Seligman, M. (1990). Learned Optimism. NSW, Australia: Random House.


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