Sculpting Project 22: Leaping over Walls: Week 1

Sculpting Project 22: Leaping over Walls: Week 1

Welcome to Year 2 of Sculpting!  Sculpting ourselves to Love God and neighbor

I’m 11 years old sitting in a lawn chair in my backyard on a summer evening. As I explain my opinions I am told, “You are a pessimist.” “Hum,” I think, “Whatever that means, it doesn’t sound good.” And it turns out that I was right, pessimism is mostly not good for us.

What is a pessimist? It is related to learned helplessness and is largely created by our explanatory style, especially how we explain the bad stuff of life. When something bad happens we naturally create an explanation for it. There are three P’s that will determine whether we are a pessimist or optimist: Personal, Pervasive, Permanent.

We are a genuine Pessimist if we see the bad event as:

Personal: It’s all my fault.

Pervasive: It will affect every part of my life.

Permanent: It will never change.

We are a genuine Optimist if we see the bad event as:

Impersonal: It is not my fault.

Specific: It will just affect this one part of my life.

Temporary: This won’t last forever.

(Memory aid: change the order of this list and you get SIT.)

Why does it matter if you are a pessimist or optimist? There are benefits to both. Studies consistently show that pessimists are more realistic than optimists. But that is all pessimism has going for it. The dark side is that pessimists are more prone to depression, poor health, and low achievement. The negative predictions of pessimists become self-fulfilling prophesies. Optimists experience better health, higher achievement, and greater well-being. But their dark side is being less realistic and blame shifting when it is their fault.

There is a time to be a mild pessimist and a time (and more of them) to be an optimist. This project is about developing the ability to choose which outlook is appropriate for each situation we encounter.

We are not destined to be a pessimist or optimist. God built both abilities into our nature. We can learn to choose.

We were born an optimist. Very young children are not pessimists. We develop pessimistic skills as we begin the process of making sense of our world. The two strongest contributors to our explanatory style are our mothers style of explaining why bad things happen and the bad events we experience in childhood. In childhood we develop the tendencies to be pessimists or optimists and then we usually stick with them into adulthood. Our sculpting project this week is to discover our explanatory styles. In future weeks we will develop skills to adjust our explanatory style. And this adjustment will give us the ability to leap over our walls.

This Project draws heavily on Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. If you are a reader check it out.

Sculpting Project 22: Leaping Over Walls

This week study your ABC’s

One of my cooking tools that helps me burn food.

A-adversity (something bad, small or big happens)

B-belief (you express your beliefs by explaining why this happened)

C-consequences ( you feel and act a different way)

Example: Explaining with the 3 P’s

A-adversity. Supper I was cooking burned

B- belief It is all my fault, I can’t do anything right, I will never get it together.

C-consequences I feel badly, make those around me feel badly and have an unpleasant evening.

Example: Explaining with SIT

A-adversity. Supper I was cooking burned

B- belief I’m a good cook, but was interrupted , It is not all ruined and I’ll do better tomorrow.

C-consequences I feel only a little sad and I become a more vigilant cook.

2 Ways to Sculpt with your ABC’s:

1: When you notice an adversity happening (A), listen to your self-talk (B), and notice the consequences (C) of your feelings and actions.


2. Remember an adversity that happened (A), imagine your self-talk (B), and notice the consequences (C) of your feelings and actions that occurred.

As always let us know what you discover.


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