Gotcha! You’re a pessimist! Otherwise, why would you read such an article? 😉 I bet you’re the type who sees the empty half of the glass, who thinks the world will crash and burn because we’re inherently doomed, and you’re never able to fully understand a laughter in the middle of a storm. Yeah, you’re a pessimist!
I have two news for you: a good one and a bad one. I’ll start with the bad one: everything you think in your head becomes reality. No, I’m not kidding. If you think everything will go wrong, well, at some point, things WILL go wrong. If you think your glass is half empty, then you will generate more emptiness. If you think relationship are hard, you will have a hard time having a relationship. Got it? And when you’re doing this stuff on auto-pilot, when you make a habit out of pessimism, well, your whole life will start to break down in pieces with every thought you think. Toldya this is bad news.
But there’s also a good news about this thing. And, as surprising as it may sound, the good news is that… nothing is permanent. Nothing is written in stone. Maybe you are a pessimist (and all pessimists are usually backing up their choice with very strong arguments) but you don’t have to STAY a pessimist. You can change. You can emigrate from the Pessimism country and you can do it totally legal. That’s a metaphoric way to say that you can simply avoid pessimism, by the way.
Here are only 7 hints on how you can do this:
1. Go For What Scares You The Most
You’re afraid of being left? Leave! Afraid of being broke? Go broke. Afraid of being alone? Isolate yourself. This is the most easy, effective and powerful way to realize your fears are just mental constructs. Confront them. Whatever scares you the most, do it. Face the worst case scenario.
This will have at least two implications: First, you’ll realize that the worst case scenario is not as bad as you thought it may be. And second, you’re going to realize that you are a very powerful person. You did it. You went through the hell and back and you’re still alive, ready to tell your story.
Courage is born in fear. Without fear, there will be no courage. If you don’t accept that your fears are just button pushers for your courage, you will never ever develop real life boldness. Avoiding your fears, endlessly thinking without taking action, that will keep you a pessimist forever.
2. Talk To Your Future Self
Maybe now life is pretty far from pink for you. Maybe it’s totally gray or even black. Especially during these black or gray times I like to talk to my future self. I imagine myself in 5 years from now and try to have a conversation with this guy. “Hi, Dragos, how’s life lately? Still have those problems from 5 years ago?”
In my conversations, usually the answer is: “Hey, dude, I forgot about that long time ago. I don’t even remember I used to have these problems”. My future self is always smiling and much more relaxed than me. In my imaginary conversations, he’s also much smarter than I usually am, but don’t tell.
As funny as it may seem, this technique is very effective. Just try to remember what were your usual problems 5 years ago and try to have a conversation with your past self. 5 years ago I didn’t even imagined how would it be to have a blog, or a beautiful daughter. To name just 2 of the things that are making me happy today.
3. Indiscriminately Help Someone
When things are advancing really slow, I try to start my days doing a small act of kindness. Helping somebody I know (or I don’t know) out of the blue. It goes from a little piece of advice to actually doing a small service. First benefit: it instantly shifts my focus from my own problems.
The second, and the most important, benefit is that my current mindset is replaced. You know, when everything goes wrong, I cannot stop thinking that there won’t be enough… something. Enough money, enough health, enough love. Well, helping somebody out of the blue simply blasts this mindset away.
The mere act of providing some unexpected support to somebody actually invalidates my mind model: look, there is enough for everybody, you just provided some unexpected … something to a total stranger. Why this won’t happen to you too? And it usually happens. Not instantly, but it happens.
4. Paint A New Context
Like in real drawing. It doesn’t matter if you have talent, just sketch your new context. If it’s your house that makes you problems, paint a new house. If it’s a person that makes you unhappy, paint a new person. If it’s yourself that makes you feel limited, paint a new self.
We do perceive a lot of our reality through our eyes. An image is worth 1000 words, they say, and for a good reason. If you really try to escape from the pessimism prison, you gotta first imagine your life outside this realm. And drawing this life by yourself is one of the best ways to do it.
One may argue that this is a childish, ineffective approach in fighting pessimism. How can drawing something can change your reality? Well, what are your alternatives? If you tried everything, but this one, what do you have to lose?
5. Take A Long Run
A real run. A few miles. You don’t have to run all the time, alternate walking with running. Do it in the park or on a random itinerary. The underlying principle in this approach is that you’re pushing your limits, you’re actually creating an escape route. But you’re not doing in your head, you’re doing it outside, in the real life.
Yes, once back home, your problems will still be there, But you’ll be bringing back from this run a little something that, in the long run, will make them go away. You’ll bring a sense of optimism rooted in the fact that you finished the run. You were able to take some distance. To leave the old stuff behind.
Running is also a very good way to squeeze the stored stress in your body. Unconsciously, during stressing phases, you contract your muscles, putting yourself in a fight or flight situation. Although you don’t realize it, you fight your enemies with your body too, not only with your mind. Release that energy.
6. Ask For Support
Out loud, articulated and straightforward. Yes, you’re in trouble and there’s no reason to be ashamed for that. Go ahead, talk about your problems, expose your difficulties. One of the most common sources of pessimism is isolation. Or, in better words, the illusion of isolation.
Based on some traumatic experiences from the past, we extrapolate our current situation. And, most of the time, we’re doing it wrong. We think we’re alone. We think nobody cares. We think that whatever we do, it won’t count. Wrong. It will. You just have to keep trying.
Ask for support until you get it. We’re connected. We’re not islands, we’re streams of consciousness linked through far more planes than we think. We’re in a balanced universe. Every action will call for a reaction. Just keep reaching out until you’ll eventually realize that your valley will soon attract a hill.
7. Keep An Eye On The Opening Windows
When God closes a door, it opens a window, the saying goes. But, if you don’t pay attention to this window, you will never be able to use it. Pessimism is more than often a perpetual blocking situation: we just can’t take our eyes from the closed door. Oh, what a life we had, and now is broken.
All we can do is whining about the past: “Oh, what a beautiful partner we had and now he’s somewhere else, with somebody else”. Ok, since he’s somewhere else, look around and find somebody new. But you can’t possibly see this someone new you even if he’ll be there, if you don’t actually look.
At the bottom line this approach means you should accept and trust. Wherever there’s acceptance and trust, pessimism is not possible. It simply cannot survive in this environment. Accept that life is full of possibilities and trust that you’ll be able to jump on every new opportunity.
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.