The 5 P's

Understanding Ourselves

When we are trying to undestand who we are and why we experience life and behave the way we do, it can be helpful to 'see' ourselves from differenrt perspectives.

We often experience this in friendship or communication with loved ones - where something somebody says about us or a situation, gives us a different perspective on that situation, and allows us to see things diffeently to the way we saw them before.

The 5 P’s are a way of helping us understand our current difficulties, so that we can set goals and have plans to work on, to help us move towards increased wellbeing as we move forward in our lives.

The 5 P's are particularly useful if we have a mental health problem. We can work on them on our own, with friends or with a professional.

What are the 5 Ps

The Five P's were originally Pre-disposing, Precipitating, Presentating, Protective, and Ongoing - which is all a bit of a mouthful. An easier way to think about them is Our Past, Our triggers, What's Current, What's Positive, and What's Ongoing.......

Our Past


Our Triggers

(Precipitating )

What's Current


What's Positive

(Protective )

What's Ongoing




What has happened in our past that is affecting us now?

If we look back into our past, we will find amny circumstances which have had a strong emotional effect upon us,both positivley and negatively.

There may be certain people, or certain events in our early or later life which we particualrly remember. Some of these may have been deepy disturbing and traumatic and difficult to proces. Others may have been comforting and kind and helped us to navigate through our early years.

It can help us to recognise the significant influences from the past and understad their effect on the person we are today. By understanding our own story in this way, we cana alos make peace with the past and learn that though it influences us now, it does not need to define who we are.

Exercise: think about the two most significant relationships in your life. How have those relationships affected who you are now, both positively and negatively?



What internal dynamics are at play - what do we get triggered by in our current situation?

As well as understanding influences from the past, it can be helpful to understand when and what makes us react and experience uncomfortable feelings in our lives.

It may be the way someone speaks to us, or something that they do - maybe even an annoying habit they have, or they didn't call us when they said they would.

When do we experience that contraction in the body and close down into negative states of mind? And what precipitates that.

And is there anything we can do to not put ourselves in those situations? Or maybe we could take some kind of action, like speaking about an issue with someone, so that we are not so prone to respond in a destructive way.

Exercise: write down what triggers can negatively effect you in your life? Is there anything you can do to reduce your exposure to these triggers, or to be able to respond more positively when they occur?



What external pressures are bearing down on us and making our life difficult?

As well as our reactive responses to certain situation, there may be bigger issues at play in our lives can. Life can bring about many events which we can perceive as problems.

Many of us find that the problems of today are the problems of the past and will be the problems of the future. But if we can deal with these problems now, we can break this cycle.

Often problems such as not having enough money, or being too anxious to leave the house, or not having anyone to talk to, or who understands.... can feel overwhelming to us. But there is help at hand, and change is always possible.

It can be helpful to think about what matters to us most and how we want to lead our lives. And what gets in the way of that for us.

The clearer we get on what we want, the easier it is to take action to getting there.

Exercise: write down how you would like to live your life and then list the daily obstacles that may stop you from doing this. What would need to happen to overcome these obstacles?



What makes change difficult? Or keeps things ongoing?

These are the aspects of our life that can keep things in place and make change difficult. These can be physical health problems or social influences that affect our situation and/or ways wethink, feel and behave.

These patterns that run through our lives are often so ingrained that we barely see how they are affecting us, or what we are doing to keep them in place.

Often it can take outside help to make us aware of these patterns and to help us move through them. And they can feel so familiar it can be difficult to move out of them, even though they may be causing us harm.

Often keeping things to ourselves and not asking for help can keep such patterns in place. But this is a pattern itself that needs to be broken.

Exercise: write down the main worries for you in your life at this moment. Have these things happened before? How do these affect your wellbeing and what needs to change for you to feel okay?



What resources do we have, or can we develop, to deal with obstacles and promote wellbeing?

Often we have resources that we are unaware of, or do not know how to fully draw upon.

Though circumstances may arise which seem overwhelming, if we can draw on these resources, we can be in a much better position to overcome their challenge.

At the same time, we can be actively seeking to develop resources every day. the more wellness tools we have, the more robust and steadfast we will be in the face of any adversity that arises.

Exercise: write down any problems that are currently occuring in your life. What personal strengths do you have that you could bring to this problem? Or what could you learn that would help you. If you struggle to name your positive qualities, ask a friend or loved one. They will probably be able to easily see the amazing qualitied you possess but are unable to see.


The 5 P's are quire simple really. All we are really asking ourselves is:

  • What has happened in our past that is affecting us now?

  • What internal dynamics are at play - what do we get triggered by in our current situation?

  • What external pressures are bearing down on us and making our life difficult?

  • What keeps these tendencies and patterns in place for us - what stops us breaking them and moving forward?

  • What resources do we have, or can we develop, to deal with obstacles and promote wellbeing?