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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 January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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