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Why There’s Nothing Wrong with Being a Pessimist

Why There’s Nothing Wrong with Being a Pessimist

If fluffy, sunshine-y words of wisdom make you want to vomit, then you’ve come to the right place. I’m one of the many Eeyores of the world who doesn’t believe in positive thinking – if I’m having a crappy day, I don’t want to hear that “everything’s going to be alright,” or “things could be so much worse,” or I need to “find the silver lining.”

Just because my day wasn’t as bad as someone else’s doesn’t give anyone the right to trivialize my feelings and encourage me to frolic in a meadow singing, “The Hills Are Alive.” I want a stiff drink and the right to feel how I feel so I can regroup and move on.

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It’s called “defensive pessimism.”

Pessimism gets a bad rap because it’s commonly associated with doom and negativity, but for a lot of people, being a pessimist doesn’t mean expecting the worst of every situation or blinding themselves from what’s good in life. It’s a way to mentally and emotionally prepare for what might go wrong. You know, in case it does. We tend to go by the mantra, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” We set lower expectations (but expectations, nonetheless), so that if something does go wrong, we’re armed and ready to deal with it.

From personal experience, I’ve found it to be a fantastic strategy, especially as a freelancer whose livelihood depends solely on myself. It’s kind of like creating an emergency kit for your well-being. It helps you get through challenges with a level head, and is a serious confidence-booster once you’ve seen the problem through to the end.

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Plus, it helps you live longer.

Just because you talk about kittens and rainbows to ward off the potential health issues associated with being a pessimist (hypochondria, depression, and heart disease to name a few) doesn’t mean you’re entirely off the hook. In fact, a recent study revealed pessimists are more likely to live longer due to their cautious nature.

How to Be a Better Pessimist

The fact is, we need to be both positive and negative – pessimist qualities stem from our fears, and are part of our very survival. Here’s how you can use being a defensive pessimist to your advantage:

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1. Use Pessimism As Motivation

Although defensive pessimists have low expectations, they use them as motivation to exceed them and thrive. From personal experience, it’s a huge confidence boost!

2. Use Pessimism to Decrease Anxiety

When you’re feeling anxious about a particular situation, you can use defensive pessimism to decrease your anxiety and prepare for the outcome you’re worried about. By considering your fears and what could go wrong, you’ll more likely to eventually say, “Failure shmailure,” and make one amazing comeback.

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3. Don’t Let It Take Over Your Life

As they say, “everything in moderation,” and being a defensive pessimist is no different. You don’t want to wring your hands about every little thing – it’s a waste of energy you should be putting toward enjoying your accomplishments. To that end:

  • Restrict your pessimism to what’s important for you to accomplish – professionally and personally.
  • When something small goes wrong, don’t turn it into an Armageddon-esque tragedy. Keep it small. Clean up the mess. Move on.

4. Don’t Listen to Positive People

When you’re tackling an issue – especially a stressful one – the worst thing you can do is turn to Little Miss Prozac for advice. Research has shown when someone tries to pressure a defensive pessimist to look at the bright side the exact opposite happens.

5. Don’t Burden Others with Your Pessimism

It’s better to keep your pessimistic nature to yourself around those who are uncomfortable with it. To each their own – plus, you don’t want them to feel obligated to cheer you up. Instead, find a trusted friend with a similar perspective to turn to.

How do you use pessimism to your advantage?

More by this author

Krissy Brady

A women's health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.

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Last Updated on March 5, 2021

Science Says People Who Talk To Themselves Are Geniuses

Science Says People Who Talk To Themselves Are Geniuses

I talk a lot to myself. It helps me to keep my concentration on the activity on hand, makes me focus more on my studies, and gives me some pretty brilliant ideas while chattering to myself; more importantly, I produce better works. For example, right now, as I am typing, I am constantly mumbling to myself. Do you talk to yourself? Don’t get embarrassed admitting it because science has discovered that those who talk to themselves are actually geniuses… and not crazy!

Research Background

Psychologist-researcher Gary Lupyan conducted an experiment where 20 volunteers were shown objects, in a supermarket, and were asked to remember them. Half of them were told to repeat the objects, for example, banana, and the other half remained silent. In the end, the result shown that self-directed speech aided people to find the objects faster, by 50 to 100 milliseconds, compared to the silent ones.

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“I’ll often mutter to myself when searching for something in the refrigerator or the supermarket shelves,” said Gary Lupyan.

This personal experience actually made him conduct this experiment. Lupyan, together with another psychologist, Daniel Swigley, came up with the outcomes that those to talk to oneself are geniuses. Here are the reasons:

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It stimulates your memory

When you are talking to yourself, your sensory mechanism gets activated. It gets easier on your memory since you can visualize the word, and you can act accordingly.[1]

It helps stay focused

When you are saying it loud, you stay focused on your task,[2] and it helps you recognise that stuff immediately. Of course, this only helps if you know what the object you are searching looks like. For example, a banana is yellow in colour, and you know how a banana looks like. So when you are saying it loud, your brain immediately pictures the image on your mind. But if you don’t know what banana looks like, then there is no effect of saying it loud.

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It helps you clarify your thoughts

Every one of us tends to have various types of thoughts. Most make sense, while the others don’t. Suppose you are furious at someone and you feel like killing that person. Now for this issue you won’t run to a therapist, will you? No, what you do is lock yourself in a room and mutter to yourself. You are letting go off the anger by talking to yourself, the pros and cons of killing that person, and eventually you calm down. This is a silly thought that you have and are unable to share it with any other person. Psychologist Linda Sapadin said,[3]

“It helps you clarify your thoughts, tend to what’s important and firm up any decisions you are contemplating.”

Featured photo credit: Girl Using Laptop In Hotel Room/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

Reference

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