Why is Pessimism Addictive? How You Can Make The Glass Half-Full Again…

What is the difference between successful people and those who are not? The answer is the difference between pro-active and reactive people    -    Saira Khan 

According to Saira Khan, star of The Apprentice and successful business co-owner, pro-activity and positivism are key steps in becoming a successful and well-rounded individual.

So why, after years of this fact being drilled into our minds, do so many of us continue to have a lack of faith in our future? 

In this post I will be exploring the most neglected (and the most common) addiction in modern day society and discussing how you can identify, crush and flip around your negative thinking processes as a step towards your self-improvement.

What is Pessimism?

Pessimistic Pessimism

Pessimism is a term used by psychologists to describe those of us who see the world consistently in a negative light. Sometime in your life I can guarantee you will consider yourself a failure. But the difference between a pessimist and an ordinary person is that a pessimist will blame themselves and the people around them entirely without thinking of a solution to the problem, or using the failure as a learning curve.

This negative and self-defeating outlook on life makes it harder for anyone to get back on their feet when things do go wrong.  Yet pessimists do not see it this way and continue to repeat this behavior irrationally, by continually looking at the negative side in the situation, even before things have gone wrong.

So if negative thinking is so bad for us and irrational, then why do we do it?

A Note on Addictions…

If an addiction to alcohol is being unable to go without it for over twenty-four hours then, does that mean humans are naturally addicted to negative thinking?

I’d argue, yes we are. And why? Because thinking negatively has the same effect as drugs do on our brain.

Negative emotions activate special endorphins which open the same pathways to our brains as pleasure. As a result, whenever we think negatively, we feel rewarded and become more and more likely to repeat the behavior to get the same kind of endorphins again.

This may sound awfully technical and impossible to avoid. But the truth is that if you can recognize that negativity is just a state of mind, then you can recognize the negative behaviors you conduct. And if you can recognize the behaviors, I’m one hundred percent sure that you can eventually beat them.

Challenging the Negativity: My top tips for avoiding negative thoughts…

It’s okay to have more realistic expectations, in fact some psychologists argue that this is the recipe for happiness because there’s less risk of disappointment, but make sure you recognize that the positive events that occur in life are as much a result of you as the negative.

1) If you think something is going to go wrong, take time out alone to understand why you think this way. A good question to ask yourself in times like this is “Am I certain that this will go wrong?” or “Is there any possibility that this problem won’t occur?” Sometimes it takes a small pause, before a reaction, to put things back into perspective. But if the problem persists after you’ve taken time out to understand what the problem is then write it down in list form and break it down; treat each problem as a puzzle you believe you can solve, a landscape to navigate rather than to stop you from moving forwards.

2) Take care of yourself. Your body is a machine. And if you’re putting into your body, what you demand out of it, then you won’t be able to feel like the amazing person that you are.

To avoid negative thinking ensure you are getting enough sleep at night, participating in exercises, eating healthily and taking time out to rest. The truth is that you can’t expect to be the best you can be, if the you that you are now aren’t up to standards. So take care of your basic needs before you attempt the giant tasks.

A negative thinker sees a difficulty in ever opportunity a positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty 3) In a negative situation, focus on the positives. So you’re late for work. So you haven’t got a brilliant story idea yet. So you don’t like your new boss. Think about what you do have or ways that you can get to work / find inspiration/ get to like your new boss. Being positive isn’t about settling for things that aren’t right. Being positive is about taking pro-active steps towards making things right. So pause before you react to a negative something and remember that worrying about something, won’t make the problem go away.

4) Be wary of other pessimists. If someone around you is very negative, don’t join in with their thoughts because as well as being addictive, negativity is infectious, and in times like this it’s much more important to listen and stay positive than it is to express your disappointment in the situation.

Striking a Balance…

The best way to become a fulfilled individual is to strike a balance and channel the best things about each outlook on life.

So be Pessimistic and spot the problem.

Be Optimistic and believe you can solve the problem.

But also be Realistic and take the time to work out how you can solve that problem.

If you’re able to see what’s going wrong, you’ll be far more able to make things go right, but it’s not enough just to spot the problem and leave it. You have to believe that you can change it.  And you have to take steps towards changing it.

How you see the world has a powerful impact on what you see as possible, so bear in mind that everything you do, is done by choice. Your choice. And those elements of human nature, such as positivism and negativity are just states of mind that we can both abolish and train into ourselves.

Wrote by Aimee Hall