Fantastic planning or depressing discussions – will things get better or will they get worse? Could we adopt both approaches?
Have you ever suddenly found yourself projecting into the future? Thinking about a presentation that you need to deliver and wondering how you will handle the task? Or an important decision that you have been trying to avoid but you know you have to confront? Maybe you have the answer for a question that you have been asking yourself and you simply don’t know where to start? Thoughts flood your mind. What will everyone think of me? Something jolted me back to reality, perhaps a question of why I looked so serious.
No matter how much we want to be commanded to be positive, in every situation. There will be times where smiles just can’t be what a situation demands.
Everywhere we turn, there are numerous experts who advise us of the benefits of positivity –
- That optimism improves our health and helps us live longer by reducing the risk of serious illnesses.
- That being optimistic can help us succeed up the career ladder.
- That optimistic people have more friends and are happier.
It seems then that optimists forever have the sun shining above, whilst pessimists appear to mope around in dark corners.
Have you reached the point where you feel continual pressure to think and talk in an optimistic way? Is it really an all-purpose remedy for everything that ails our soul?
However, studies now reveal a more nuanced view. Where viewpoints of optimism and pessimism can both be adopted as needed. Where we can shift between using both optimism and pessimism as the situation demands.
Can this be more effective, rather than being optimistic all the time? Selecting to use our mental outlooks – from dispositional attribution (which assigns the cause of behaviour to some internal characteristic of a person) to strategic planning? Science is realising that some of us use these mind-sets in a flexible way and being versatile has a lot of advantages.
So what is pessimism? Is it being gloomy, dreary, sad and a loser? Honestly I don’t think this is necessarily the case. There is no distinction that an optimist is good and a pessimist is bad, because those who understand and employ pessimism are overly able to strategically propel and prepare themselves for the future.
Both optimism and pessimism can help us control our feelings about the future and how we manage our actions and expectations while moving forward.
The world is evolving and unpredictable, we will never be able to shift away from that notion. However, do we unconsciously devise mental scenarios about how we think things will unfold? Whether we do this in shades of colour or not; we look at situations in a bright or dark way, hopeful or fearful.
Can we change our views from one of either to neither? Be neutral and simply be realistic about things, rather than pressure ourselves into to being only optimists or shying away from pessimism?
This is not distortion but rather an enhanced perspective. The linking of both pessimism and optimism can be reformative motivators. Because they can allow us to consider the level of risk we are taking on in a new project. Help us acknowledge how much work difficult tasks demand that under the circumstances we might not make a choice to attempt venturing into. Therefore optimism can energise us to convince ourselves to push forward so that our predictions turn into reality. Likewise pessimism can assist us in acting with eagerness so that we get things done and don’t become apathetic.
When you consider the link between optimism and pessimism there will always be an emotional association. How these emotions impel us into action – either in a forceful or dynamic way could prove better than any rational prediction could. So being both will teach you how to manage the other sentiments that might crop up and get in the way of your effectiveness.
You probably already know that being optimistic can help you keep anxious thoughts at bay and fill you with an expansive sense of your own capability to shape events – overruling any doubts and worries that could suspend you into inaction. Another positive is helping you keep afloat when things do go wrong and feelings of hopelessness and despair loom. Optimism helps you cling to the hope that the sun will shine again. This allows us to tolerate stressful situations that otherwise could be unbearable.
On the flip side, pessimism can help us handle our feelings, rather than let our expectations spin out of control. We can deal with crushing events and disappointment when things don’t go our way. Perhaps in some ways this is a self-protection of our ego. How would you behave if you felt you were definitely getting promoted at work and that fell flat. Would this not be a big blow to your self-image and self-esteem? However, adopting the pessimistic mind-set. Your attitudes will differ and you won’t be quite as affected emotionally when you are unsuccessful and things aren’t predictable.
The difference between optimists and pessimists –
- the optimist will not understand the joys of receiving a pleasant surprise.
- the pessimist will understand that feeling of being relieved and delighted at the same time.
Where can you begin in becoming this hand in hand optimist and pessimist?
Begin by strategically matching the relevant mind-set to each situation. If you commence a new task – be positive and confident as it helps you promptly configure a plan and progress faster. When you silently have the belief that everything will turn our fine, it will, even if it isn’t the outcome you are looking for. In contrast to a pessimist view that convinces you to give up on your prospects.
Optimistic mind-sets allow you to think more flexibly and creatively presuming that things will work out, you will figure out how along the way. You approach tasks innovatively and find solutions whereas the pessimist might simply feel stuck. Being optimisitic you will be motivated to work harder and longer with possibly no odds of success. But by being confident in your own ability you tend to draw positive conclusions from limited data, therefore spurring on in the face of adversity.
Have you recognised how inventors and masterminds persevere even after the experts advise them to quit?
When you apply this concept to everyday life you will be more determined to pursue your goals. Whether this be losing weight by resisting temptation or climbing back on the horse after your heart has been broken. There is no doubt that having positive expectations will lead to positive outcomes and there will be a self-fulfilling aspect to optimism.
Where pessimism can help you is when you are succeeding at your task and begin to presume you don’t need to put in the extra work and become lazy or overconfident. By imagining all the things that could go wrong, you are motivating yourself to take action for what could and might happen. Engaging in being defensive and using pessimism as an attitude can help you to become more dynamic and successful. Especially when faced with an overwhelming fear.
- We then take steps we never would have and would possibly have avoided.
- It can be turned into a productive strategy for dealing with uncertainty.
- Build a link between better performance and personal growth by considering pessimism and negative thoughts as well.
- A great situation is when you expect to receive bad news and then you don’t or even if you anticipate this, you will feel less vulnerable when depression or catastrophic situations like death occur.
Life will always offer us hard choices on every level. By appreciating the value of both optimistic and pessimistic views we can consider how to flourish and look after our well-being so that we thrive in our accomplishments and relationships. Embracing both can help us get through situations as we discover how to utilise both our positive and negative thoughts to motivate us. To think strategically by not avoiding realism and the practical appropriateness that negative emotions can prompt us towards becoming stronger mentally and wiser as we continually grow and evolve.