By: Leah Hovey
My entire life I have been a pessimist. I always expected the worst and I justified my pessimism by saying that I wouldn’t be disappointed when the bad things happened as opposed to the good. It was easy to cope when you expected the worst to happen to you as I thought I was preparing my emotions for the worst.
This may be relatable to some more than others, but I actually flaunted my pessimism. I used it as a defensive mechanism and I used it to seem as though I did not care about what was going on around me. It actually became a bit of a personality trait as I flaunted my sarcastic, dark demeanor while pretending to be above it all. In reality though, this was a way to not take responsibility and to avoid true personal growth.
To be an optimist, it takes strength. You have to work hard to think positively and keep moving forward when things go wrong. It takes mental training, and it opens yourself up to disappointment. But having optimism is a strength because it gives you back the power in your life. You can choose to think “see, I knew this wasn’t going to work out” or choose to say “this is a setback, but what can I LEARN from this.” And in fact, when you have a positive outlook on life, the more positive things will come your way.
As someone who has clinical depression, pessimism comes easily and I used to not believe in the above statement. It is my first impulse to think negatively, and I have to work harder to positively change my state of mind. This is something I will need to work on for my entire life, but it will make me mentally stronger, help me grow and allow more good things to come towards me. By looking at the world in a bleak, melancholy way, I was not allowing myself to just live my life. Bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean my life stops with it.
I know there are pessimists out there reading this and thinking ‘yeah right’. Yes, it is hard but when you realize that your outlook doesn’t actually help anything and that your negative energy only attracts negative people, it makes you pause and wonder what the point of this attitude is. It is hard work, believe me, but changing my mindset has really changed how I view terrible events or occurrences in my life as well as helped my clinical depression.
Here are some tips and tricks to practice if you are a pessimist wanting to become an optimist:
Try to be the best version of yourself everyday. Do that exercise, meditate- talk it out.
Learn to accept disappointment in a neutral way.
Change your thinking patterns. CBT has many great tools to help you think in more helpful ways.
Practice gratitude (start with a gratitude journal or express the good parts of the day with someone).
Humor can help you cope with the challenges you experience.
Try to develop healthier routines so you can think clearer and be more organized.
Surround yourself with good people.
Having a hard alleviating the pessimism? Book a consult with one of our therapists.