By: Justin Hill
The Physical, Psychological, and Emotional (PPE) Model is based on popular Health Psychology ideas summarized in the Biopsychosocial Model.
While I like the Biopsychosocial Model, I thought I would develop a hybrid based off of it that is a bit more simplistic.
Also, biology is something that in my opinion can’t be changed without the introduction of a medication, which is why The PPE Model does not include biological underpinnings.
With that being said, let’s explore the PPE Model.
The PPE Model covers three points – physical, psychological, and emotional, which make up three things you have control over.
While “control” can be interpreted in different ways, what I mean by control is that you can affect each of them by engaging in specific techniques to have more pull on one over the other.
Let’s break down each one in more detail.
The First P - Physical (Most Tangible)
The physical part of the PPE model is the most tangible because it is something you can do, right now.
Are you sitting? Well, you can choose to stand up. Then, you can take a walk. The reason the physical is the most tangible because it is something you can take action on – physically.
As a young person, you may feel down (which is emotional). Well, consider your current physical state. Are you sitting, watching TV, perhaps browsing social media channels, wishing and wanting, and thinking on your feelings of being down?
You have complete control over your physical state, even if you don’t feel like it. For example, you can stand up. You can take a walk. You can exercise. You can move out of your current physical environment and go to a new one – like going to a coffee shop, or eating outside instead of staying inside.
Even with cases like not having the use of your legs, you may still be able to use your arms to get around in a wheelchair. In most cases, there are ways you can engage your physical state in one way or another.
Same thing goes for an elderly person. In your age-related decline, your vision will deteriorate. Do you let the feelings and thoughts of those things (emotions and psychology) bring you down and keep you in your current state?
If so, your path is most likely certain – more of the same.
However, you can physically take yourself to the eye doctor, and get yourself set up with a pair of subscription glasses, or a magnifying glass to help with your eyesight.
The physical is real because it is something you can do with your body, either to move it in a direction, or by introducing something like eyeglasses to help you see better.
The physical part of the PPE includes anything you can actually see, feel and touch.
The Second P - Psychological (Most Powerful)
The psychological part of the PPE model is the most powerful because you can implement psychological techniques, strategies, and ideas into your daily living, and in essence, can influence the physical and emotional parts – hence, why it’s the most powerful.
Therapy is one of the best forms of the psychological. While it takes money and time, it can be an effective tool to build into your life, especially if you feel like you are struggling.
Other psychological techniques to consider are things like reframing or using theoretical models like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to take the complexity of life and break it down into workable, manageable and understandable parts.
As an older person, the use of SOC as a theoretical model to understand your difficulties and overcome them is one way. By using the strategies of SOC, you invoke the power of psychology to bring about change in your life.
Same goes for younger people. Your thoughts are powerful things. And while they may not be tangible, like the physical part of the PPE, they are in a sense “real.”
Anxiety, depression and stress affect the lives of millions of people. These are all psychological states of mind that can have a negative impact on your life.
This is why there are countless therapists out there providing counseling. They spend their time trying to help people alleviate their pain and suffering. Getting therapy is a form of psychological resources, and in essence, invokes the psychology part of the PPE model.
Fact, opinion, thoughts, etc. – whether they are right or wrong – either lead you in a productive, positive direction or they take you down, keeping you in a state of stasis, and keep you feeling like you are unable to move of change anything, repeating the injurious cycles you have always repeated.
Using psychology to battle life’s difficulties, whether they are internal or external, is not an easy matter. But, with time and practice you can use psychology to help guide you in a direction that leads you away from the pain, away from the hurt, and into “greener grasses.”
Don’t believe me. Think about a time when you ranted and raved to a friend, family member or lover. How did you feel after?
While they sat and listened to whatever you were worried, stressed or anxious about, you slowly lightened your “psychological load.” While they may not be a therapist, specialized to help you deal with the issue, telling them probably made you feel better in that moment.
This is what what's referred to as “venting.” We believe it’s healthy. And, in some circumstances it is.
I am not here to argue whether or not venting is healthy or not. I am here to make a point that by venting to someone else you are in fact using psychology, because the subsequent (and most likely) positive feelings afterward are because you used psychology to combat the buildup of stress, anxiety and worry.
This is why psychology is the most powerful. If used efficiently, it can produce change in your current, short-term, and in many cases, long-term situations. In essence, it pulls the physical and emotion in any direction it wants – hence, it’s the most powerful.
While it isn’t as real as the physical – that is, you can’t touch or see it – if used in a conscious, consistent effort, it can promote change within yourself and your life.
The E or Emotional Part (Most Influential)
Emotions can take us on a ride if we let them. And, if unchecked, they will pull you in whatever direction you are feeling at that moment.
Hyped up on some sort of victory? Your heart’s racing, you may be smiling and/or laughing; you may even be in a mood to want to hug someone or cry tears of joy.
The opposite is the sadness, perhaps in the face of some sort of loss – real or perceived. Your shoulders slump, you may describe yourself as “feeling down”, you may not want to go out or socialize. In fact, you probably just want to stay inside and not face the world, because you are a failure, a loser, whatever.
That’s what emotions do. And, if you don’t consciously keep track of them, they can easily send you on an upward/downward spiral – often making you feel out of control.
This is why people seek help. They feel out of control. They feel like no matter what they do, they always end up back where they were – in a place they don’t want to be. They feel this, and that, and the other thing.
The operative word with emotions is “feel.”
Feelings are strong and can pack a powerful valence, internally and externally.
Have you ever been around someone that is stressed, anxious or overly worried? Have you ever been around someone that is just down on life, perhaps themselves?
Did you feel like they were bringing you down as well, zapping your energy that isn’t really something tangible, but sure feels real to you? Well, that is emotions my friend, and they are influential for a reason.
People go to therapy to get a different perspective, to hear someone else’s words on the manner, to speak to someone that actually knows how to help. Also, it's important to note that if your emotions are boarding on the biological side, it's probably best to seek professional advice and/or medication.
How can you determine this? Well, if no matter what you do, try, think, etc. doesn't work, and you end up back where you started, or worse, then it's time to seek out additional help.
Why do some people say to watch comedy when you are sick to help with recover? Well, because comedy makes you laugh, it puts you in a positive state, and hypothetically, it can help with the recovery rate.
This is an example of using your emotions to potentially induce a quicker recovery.
My concluding statement here, instead of diving into the complexities of emotions – which a whole book could be written on – is to provide some general thoughts.
Be conscious of when you are feeling down, sad, stressed, anxious, etc. Jot it down in a notepad or on your phone if you have to. Try to figure out the patterns and triggers that set you in that motion.
Do what you can to counteract those things, because once the emotion hits, it’s like climbing out of a hole that keeps getting deeper. It’s not impossible, but it is very hard.
Do the same thing with when you are feeling good – or with positive emotions. When do you notice yourself smiling, laughing, feeling uplifted and good about life and happy with yourself?
Notice those things, jot them down, and try to repeat them, because that is what life is really about. That’s how you build meaning into your life, it’s how you feel better.
When people speak of meaning, passion, happiness, etc. it is really just the positive emotions, the uplifting, “feel good” states.
While feeling down and feeling up comes and goes, it is important to try to notice when each is happening so you can replicate the feeling again.
If you don’t consciously engage in the physical and psychological parts of the PPE model, then you will just be pulled by your emotions in whatever way you are feeling at the moment.
Say you want to lose weight because you feel (emotional) fat. Being down on your body image (emotional), what you think of yourself, or how you perceive the world denotes your worth (both psychological).
However, you can do something about it.
You can make a conscious choice, write up a plan. Heck, write a declarative statement.
“I will work out tomorrow in the form of walking for 30 minutes at the gym or around my neighborhood after work at 6pm.” (Of course, you can change the times/locations to fit into your particular schedule, but you get the gist.)
These things are all psychological. Then, when tomorrow comes – do it (physical).
If you don’t feel like it, read over your statement, and instead of not feeling like it, let your feelings of lying to yourself, of letting yourself down because you declared to do this move you in the direction of getting the exercise done.
If you don’t accomplish this, don’t beat yourself up (using psychology against yourself), or feel down (emotions).
Start over, perhaps lessen the time to a 15-minute walk.
The point is, barring biological and emotional factors outside of your control that medication can help with, the power (psychology) is within you. You just have to do it (physical) and realize that how you feel doesn’t necessarily factor into focusing on the task (psychology) and getting it done (physical).
Even if you do seek help in the form of therapy, it is just someone helping you reframe and think about your life and your situation in a different manner (psychology).
That’s why they went to school and trained all those years – it’s not just psychobabble they are speaking, they actually know how to help. This in turn will help shift your feelings (emotions) in a more productive direction.
Medication is also a tool, a tool that helps rewire your biological makeup. You still have to put in the work (physical) and get yourself to rethink your current situation (psychology). The medication is a helping hand in the battle of life. While medication may be necessary in many cases, in the end – you have to do the work (physical), the thinking (psychology), and the feeling (emotions).
I’m not trying to be fatalistic or defeatist in my ways, or lead you to the point of giving up and giving in. I am just stating the obvious.
For example, what if your whole life you were sad, down, felt like a worthless piece of something.
Then, you sought help. Say this particular individual told you that your slouching, and your shoulders are a bit too forward. This is the essence of your problem. Whether you believe them or not is up to you. But, you are the only one that can do it – no one can force you. But, what if you decide to sit up straight and push your shoulders back (physical), and then consciously try to notice when you got back into that physical state that led you to your sadness, and corrected it upon consciously noticing it (physical and psychological)?
Granted, that’s a crude, simplistic example, but it’s there to make a point. You really do have the power (and resources) to change your life for the better, whether you are struggling or not. It’s up to you to take the action. In the end, information is power if you chose to use it to your benefit.
The PPE model is my form of information to you – I hope it’s a useful for you. Let me know what you think below.
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