There is no guarantee that you will achieve great success and live a good life if you are an optimist. But here’s what I know: It is guaranteed that you will never achieve your goals and dreams and live a good life if you are a pessimist.
Being negative is disastrous. It destroys hope and possibilities. If you are a pessimist, you will never dream bigger or hope for something better. And because you are always looking for the negative, you tend to focus on the problems than the solutions.
A pessimist is someone who always thinks negatively. He doubts himself; he doesn’t believe in hope or that things will turn out to be fine.
An optimist sees every problem as a learning opportunity and a stepping stone to achieving greater success in life. But a pessimist sees every opportunity as a problem and finds difficulty in every situation.
This is why being a pessimist will do you no good.
If you are someone who always thinks negatively, you need to change that in order to change your circumstances and your life.
Think about it, do you always find yourself feeling frustrated, making lousy excuses, and always look at the problems rather than finding solutions to a circumstance?
If you do, you need to learn how to get rid of your negative thinking pattern. Once you change your thinking, you will change your life.
Here are 7 things you should do if you are a pessimist…
1. Be Aware of Your Negative Thoughts
First, you need to be conscious of your thoughts. You can’t fix something that you don’t know is broken. You can only fix something if you know it is broken, right?
It’s common sense. Hence, always be aware of your thoughts. Self-awareness is important if you want to make a positive change in your life.
What you can do is take note of your feelings and emotions. Whenever you feel frustrated, sad, or angry, take a minute to stop and think about what kind of thoughts are going through your head.
Are you thinking negatively? Usually, the answer is yes because you have been affected by a situation or a person, and that is why you started to think negatively and become a pessimist.
2. Acknowledge the Negative Thoughts
Roy Williams wrote in his blog post, “If we first acknowledge our emotions when we are feeling them, an appropriate emotional expression is less problematic.”
Yes, once you discovered you are thinking negatively, the next step you should do is to acknowledge the negative thoughts.
You want to speak directly to your negative thoughts. You have to understand that it is okay to feel negative or to think negatively, the problem comes only when you linger in the negative thoughts and let them affect your life.
When you are feeling tired, stressed, or disappointed, you don’t try to get away from the situation. The moment you ignore your thoughts and feelings, you don’t get rid of them. They will continue to pop up.
This is why you need to acknowledge your thinking and the way you feel, even if they are negative. No one is perfect. Even an optimist may think negatively at times.
It is about how you deal with the situation that matters. Thus, acknowledge the negative thoughts and so you can deal with them.
For example, if someone says that you’re a pessimist, do you ignore him or are you going to acknowledge it and then make a change?
You see, you can’t make a change if you ignore it. You can only make changes when accept and take responsibility for it.
3. Understand What It Means
Next, try to understand what the negative thought or feeling is trying to tell you. Understand what it means.
Get to learn why and what makes you think negatively. What has happened that you feel negative out of a sudden?
Is it because someone cuts you in the traffic? Is it because your boss chooses to promote John and not you that gives rise to your sour feeling? Or is it because you work on your website but you’re not seeing any results?
Whatever the situation, you must understand what makes you feel negative.
Negative thinking is not a cause, it is a symptom. A baby doesn’t think negatively. When the baby spills the milk on the floor, she doesn’t feel bad or frustrated, she will enjoy playing in the puddle of milk.
Negative thinking is taught to us, not born in us. Therefore, you need to understand what is the meaning the thinking is trying to convey so that you can change its meaning.
4. Reframe and Changing the Meaning
Now that you know what makes you think negatively, it is time to reframe and change the meaning.
For instance, if you feel angry because someone cuts you in the traffic, what you need to do to feel positive is to reframe the meaning of it.
You feel angry because you believe that every driver should follow the traffic flow and drive accordingly. And this is why when someone violates YOUR rule, you feel offended.
What you need to do is to change the meaning you give to your rule (cutting in traffic). Instead of feeling angry about it, think it this way: People cut me in the traffic because they are in an emergency. And it has nothing to do with you, so, just enjoy your drive.
Reframing the meaning of a situation is a powerful technique that can change your thinking and your life.
Here are a couple of great examples of how reframing work from VeryWellMind.com:
- In a family therapy session, Carla complains bitterly that her mother is overly involved in her life, constantly nagging her about what she should be doing. In attempting to shift Carla’s negative view of her mother, the therapist offers this reframe: “Isn’t it loving of your mother to teach you ways to take care of yourself so you’ll be prepared to live on your own without her?”
- A teen in individual therapy is struggling to accept the limitations of having a chronic illness. The therapist attempts to reframe how the teen views his illness by saying, “Can you think of your illness as a built-in reminder to take care of your health throughout your life?”
- A teen is upset she didn’t make the basketball team. The therapist asks her what positive things could come from not making the team. The teen is able to say she will have more free time and with enough practice, she might be able to make the team next year.
- A boy says his mother has ruined his life by taking away his smartphone privileges because he was caught texting while driving. A therapist talks about the dangers of texting while driving and the reasons his parents may want to teach him not to do that. Eventually, he is able to see that his mother’s actions weren’t meant to ruin his life, but instead, were meant to save his life.
Can you see how powerful reframing is? Learn this technique. And whenever you find that you are thinking negatively, change the meaning of the situation using this technique.
5. Focus on Progress, Not Problems
Yes, stop focusing on the problem, instead, think about the solution and the progress.
What you focus on, expands. When you focus on the problems, what you get are more problems.
Your brain works like the Google search engine. It will give you what you choose to think about.
For example, if you go to Google and type in, “why multitasking is good”, you will get all related results that show you why multitasking is important and how to do it the correct way.
On the contrary, if you type in “why multitasking is bad”, you will get another set of results showing you why multitasking is bad and all the reasons why you should not do it.
So, it depends on what you search for, and Google will provide.
Similarly, it depends on what you choose to think about. If you focus on the problems, your brain will search for similar problems and show them all to you.
But if you choose to focus on the solutions, your brain will show you why the situation is good and how you can solve it.
Do you get that?
Just like if you think, “Why am I always fail in what I do?” And your brain will show you the answer. But when you switch your thinking to, “What can I learn from my mistakes?” And your brain will work on your question and show you every golden lesson you can learn from your mistakes and failures.
I love what Jennifer Goble said in her blog: “What we think about grows, so we need to think about solutions. For example: if someone wants to stop smoking and all they think about is cigarettes, they are likely to fail. But if they think about walking, seeing friends, reading a new book, taking a road trip, volunteering, or what they will buy with their cigarette money, they have a far better chance of being successful and not smoking. What we focus on grows.”
Being optimistic is a choice, and the same goes for being a pessimist. And you need to be conscious of your thoughts.
Choose to focus on the progress and solutions, not problems, or all the reasons why it won’t work.
6. Get to Work and Do Something
You can’t just sit there and wait for things to get better. If you are serious about changing your thoughts from a pessimistic point of view to being an optimist, you need to do something, anything.
Do you know that the #1 reason people feel fear is because of the lack of action?
It sounds counterintuitive, I know. When you’re in fear, you feel paralyzed and you will be inaction. But it is your inaction that leads to even more fear.
Action cures fear. Indecision, postponement, on the other hand, fuel fear.David J. Schwartz
Hence, don’t just sit there and do nothing. Get to work. Do something. Take action, face your fear and the death of fear will be certain.
7. Install a New Thinking Pattern
To change from a pessimist to an optimist, you need to change your thinking pattern.
If you don’t change it, you will always feel trapped and triggered by similar situations and dwell with negativity again. Thus, this is why all the steps above are important.
You want to be conscious of your thoughts, and then understand what causes them. When you know the trigger, you can make changes by reframing the meaning so that in the future, you will never fall into the negative trap again.
What you want to do then is to install a new thinking pattern. You don’t have to wait for a rainbow to appear above your head only to feel positive, you can choose to associate things with positive meanings to make it joyful.
Just like how to define the meaning of success. For most people, they believe that to be successful, they need to achieve this or reach that goal. And because of their definition, it makes it difficult for them to feel the success feeling.
They need to achieve a certain target or to reach a certain goal only they can feel the success feeling.
Therefore, change the meaning of success. Make it easy to feel it and enjoy it. For instance, you can define success as, “every morning you’re able to open your eyes and breathe when you wake up, you’re a success”, or if you are a blogger/writer, “every time you’re making progress, write and publish a blog post, you’re a success.”
Reframe the meaning and make your life positive. You want to get rid of being a pessimist so that it is easier to feel optimistic.
Set yourself up to win. Install new meaning to everything you do so that you will never feel negative again.
So, do you know what you need to do if you are a pessimist now?