Defensive Pessimism

37 - Pessimism

It’s Summertime!

“The livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry”

Sunny weather, drinking cocktails by the pool, bikini girls walking around, running, hiking and biking with friends and, of course, a late afternoon ball game followed by a little jam after dinner and gazing at the stars late night in the evening. Is there anything better?

Truth be told, sometimes is hard to appreciate the good things in life, especially if you’re a pessimistic person. Let’s dip right in from the top highest diving board, shall we?

Pessimism is a thought process where a mental picture of something going wrong is created in the mind.

Following an acute sense of pessimism one can see himself sabotaging or handicapping his chances of success by (1) postponing a certain action (procrastination), (2) failing preparation or (3) being busy with smaller duties.

But there’s a more moderate – kind of wiser – form of negative self-envisioning called Defensive Pessimism. Anxiety is still present and expectations are extremely low.

But here’s the catch: Defensive Pessimism is both a way of preparation and also self-protection in case things go wrong. It’s like a self-esteem shield and the necessary fuel one needs to work on correcting mistakes beforehand.

Having prepared mental cues of things going south may also alert the musician during performances. The defence mechanism of anticipating all possible bad outcomes endows him of more alertness when the stakes are high.

Defensive Pessimism is actually a refined form of visualization, but not the kind of visualization where you only create a perfect vision of the ideal performance. It’s a broader and realistic one, where there is space for correcting mistakes in practice and anticipate them when in performance mode.

Pessimism is related to the way we see ourselves, our actions and the world around. Since we tend to confirm what we believe in, we interpret things differently, according to our sense of self.

Lack of confidence, low self-esteem or depression may impair our judgment and make us believe failure or unsuccessful outcomes are inevitable. Negative and inaccurate self-thoughts prevent us from taking an exempted look at reality.

A negative or pessimistic approach builds anxiety, which makes us avoid practicing. Since without practice we can’t improve, our negative perspective is paving the way for an accented sense of impairment.

What to do then? Building a stronger self-esteem, confidence and trust in our abilities starts with a choice of words.

If you’re a pessimist start by reviewing Top Performers Strategies to grow mental resilience, and also ways to Strengthening Confidence.

In short:

  • Pay attention to your inner dialogue (thoughts and self talk);
  • Challenge yourself (try something new);
  • Surround yourself with uplifting people;
  • Visualize, prepare and build great experiences.

Remind that Defensive Pessimism is actually there to help you, protecting you from harm. Use it to your advantage. Don’t let your pessimism build self-fulfilling prophecies of impairment. Be smart. Visualize what could go wrong and act upon it.

Now get out there, be brave and enjoy the sunlight! Let’s enjoy our Summertime 🙂

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