If you’ve ever found yourself expecting the worst without clear reasons why, you were probably the victim of a negative-thinking habit. Rampant pessimism can be annoying at the least and chronically destructive at worst. It can take over your mood, mind-set, career, relationships – and life in general – making it impossible to hope for anything good.
The good news is that pessimism for most people is nothing more than a habit – a habit that can be broken with a little conscious effort.
Below you’ll find three simple suggestions for turning pessimism into optimism:
– Challenge the doom predictions.
When your mind is ruled by a pessimistic outlook, you automatically imagine the worst possible outcome and hold it as your expectation. Even worse, you usually have no “evidence” to support your belief that things will go wrong, you are just choosing to think they will.
Turn this around by challenging any prediction for doom or gloom that comes out of your mouth. The moment you catch yourself thinking or saying something pessimistic, pause and ask yourself, “Why do I think that’s true? How do I really know it’s true? Am I willing to suspend judgment and wait and see what happens?”
The more you challenge these negative predictions, the more you open to greater possibilities.
– Choose a better outcome.
You can also take a more proactive role in choosing a better outcome. Instead of just opening to greater possibilities, CHOOSE the outcome you want! Just like your mind can say, “This isn’t going to turn out well,” it can also say, “This is going to be great!”
Make a habit of always focusing on and choosing the BEST possible outcome in every situation. Even if the absolute best outcome doesn’t come to pass, you might still end up with something nearly as good. (How will you know if you don’t even try?)
When you first begin to do this, you’ll probably feel a little silly, and maybe even downright uncomfortable. However, keep up with the practice and remember that an optimistic attitude can become a habit too! If it helps, turn it into a game you play to amuse yourself. Try to come up with the most outlandish, hilarious outcome to every situation, and keep a record of what happens when you do.
– Focus on the why.
Your underlying beliefs are what often fuel your pessimism. For example, if you hold the belief that you’ll never succeed at your goals, you may find yourself thinking pessimistic thoughts whenever you try to accomplish something. “This will never work,” “I can’t do this, who am I kidding?” and so on.
Whenever you catch yourself thinking pessimistic thoughts like these, narrow in on the “why.” Why do you think you’ll never succeed at your goals? Why do you believe your plans will never work?
Even better, ask yourself why they might work after all. Ask yourself why you DO have what it takes to accomplish whatever your heart desires.
If you make a genuine effort to ponder these questions, the answers might surprise you – in a very good way!
“The pessimist is half-licked before he starts.” – Thomas A. Buckner
“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” – Helen Keller