How to Overcome Pessimism and Embrace Optimism
This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
Pessimism is an overarching attitude where people believe that things will always go wrong and that their wants and goals will most likely be unfulfilled in the end. In short, those who engage in pessimism have a mostly negative viewpoint. In fact, pessimists often start to feel suspicious when things go smoothly because they expect everything to go the opposite of how they want it to go.
In contrast, optimists tend to look on the bright side of life. Even when things don’t go as planned, they search for the positives in the situation.
Pessimism is associated with the “glass-half-empty” mindset, while optimism is associated with the “glass-half-full” mindset. This shows how two people can look at the same thing and have completely different views of it based on their internal beliefs and attitudes.
Although most people don’t see pessimism as a positive thing, it can be beneficial sometimes. Optimism can become toxic positivity when practised constantly in every situation that takes place. Negative thinking isn’t always bad because it helps us take necessary precautions in life. It’s when all we have is negative and pessimistic thoughts that it becomes problematic. Click here to read more articles about pessimism.
Am I a Pessimist?
Are you wondering whether you’d be considered a pessimist? Read through the list below to see if you relate to any (or many) of these signs of pessimism.
- You often choose not to go after your goals and dreams because you believe you’ll probably fail, so it’s not worth it to try.
- You feel shocked when things go your way.
- In every situation, you’re focused on what could go wrong.
- When considering the pros and cons, you find that the drawbacks or risks nearly always outweigh the benefits.
- You don’t value your own abilities and experience imposter syndrome.
- You don’t recognize your strengths and focus on your weaknesses instead.
- You get annoyed with others who are optimistic.
- You speak to yourself negatively and harshly.
- Whenever something good happens, you think about how it will eventually end.
- You don’t care to try to change things for the better and prefer to just go with the status quo.
Why Should I Try to Be More Optimistic?
While a small dose of pessimism on occasion can be healthy, constant pessimism and negative thinking are associated with increased stress, excessive worry and rumination, and even mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.
On the flip side, constant optimism does not lead to these negative outcomes. Being optimistic comes with many benefits that being pessimistic does not.
For example, being optimistic improves problem-solving abilities and helps you to “roll with the punches.” It enables you to handle the challenges that will inevitably occur throughout your life.
6 Strategies to Overcome Pessimism
Do you want to become a more positive person, but just don’t know how? Below, we’ve outlined six effective strategies to help you overcome negative thinking and shift your pessimistic mindset.
1. Examine and reframe the way you speak to yourself
First, look at the way you talk to yourself. Then, think about how you talk to others that you respect and care about. If the way you speak to yourself doesn’t match the way you speak to others, then it’s time to work on changing your tone.
Are you extremely critical of yourself? Do you insult yourself and degrade your own abilities? Try to shift your self-perception by being kinder and more caring.
It may feel a little silly or weird at first but get into the habit of telling yourself that you’re worthy of happiness and you’re good enough. It’s important to show yourself plenty of love, support, and encouragement. After all, you have to live with yourself throughout your entire life; you might as well enjoy it!
2. Surround yourself with positivity
Often, pessimistic people have taken on a negative mindset due to things that have happened in their past. Something you can do to offset your negative past experiences is to actively seek out positive experiences in the present.
Another way to surround yourself with positivity is to spend time with optimistic people. Although you may find their positivity irritating at times, you may find that it begins to rub off on you after a while!
3. Focus on solutions, not problems
Pessimists have a habit of focusing on the challenges and problems that may present themselves. What you can do to shift this habit in a more positive way is to focus on potential solutions instead. Any time you catch yourself thinking about a problem, make an effort to think of a solution as well.
4. Take care of yourself physically
Physical and mental health are linked, and when you take care of your physical health, you’ll often find that your mental health improves. Make an effort to get enough sleep, opt for healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and get regular exercise. Spending time outdoors is also beneficial for both physical and mental health.
Exercise and movement, in particular, have an amazingly beneficial impact on mental health. Often, when we’re engaging in a form of exercise we enjoy, we’re able to tune out our thoughts and focus on what we’re doing at the moment. Plus, the endorphins released after a good workout can give you a huge mood boost! Regular exercise decreases stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression as well, so give it a try.
5. Embrace gratitude
Make a habit of thinking about the things you’re grateful for on a daily basis. Maybe you can list a few things in the morning right after waking up or think about what you’re grateful for before falling asleep at night. It’s even better if you can maintain this grateful mindset throughout the day and turn to it whenever you notice your thoughts are becoming negative.
6. Live in the moment
Usually, when you’re thinking about something negative, you’re stuck in the past or the future. You’re typically thinking about something that went wrong or could go wrong, but you’re not living in the moment. This is where mindfulness meditation and a focus on enjoying the current moment can be extremely helpful in overcoming pessimism.
You can do this by taking a couple of minutes to pay attention to your five senses and really take in the world around you. This works especially well if you have a chance to go outside and look at nature, which has a naturally calming effect. Another good way to be mindful is to focus on your breathing. Many different breathing exercises can be helpful, and deep breathing can curb anxious and negative thoughts.
A Final Word
While some pessimism is just fine and even healthy, letting continual negative thoughts go unchecked can have unwanted consequences. We hope this article helped you discover some strategies to embrace optimism and overcome pessimistic tendencies.