When is it good to hang on to pessimist self-talk?

When is it good to hang on to pessimist self-talk?

I am a pessimistic driver and I am choosing to stay that way.

  1. If I cause an accident I want to take responsibility in acknowledging the parts that are my ‘Personal’ fault.
  2. I recognize that my actions can cause ‘Permanent’ damage.
  3. I believe that this damage could spread out to ‘Pervasive’ proportions.

Using the 3 P’s in a purely optimistic way is not 100% appropriate.

Quick review:

When something bad happens an optimist says:

  1. Personal: It is not all my fault
  2. Permanent: This can change.
  3. Pervasive: This will not affect my whole world.

Those statements are, of course, not always true.

So when is it good to hang on to pessimist self talk?

  • When the risks are high.
  • When life and limb are at risk consider the value of a pessimistic evaluation.
  • Some jobs, like safety inspectors, need a degree of pessimism. Lawyers do better as pessimists.

The problem comes when we take the pessimism home, rather than leaving it at work.

What we want is the ability to choose when to, and when not to, be a pessimist.

The question I am learning to ask is, “Is this pessimistic view helpful in this situation?”

If so, be pessimistic. If not, be optimistic.

When is it helpful to keep our optimism private?

Ever feel like the statement “I made this good thing happen!” is bragging?   I guess it is.

It is helpful to recognize that we have the God-given power to create good in our world, but bragging is not a favorable social trait.

So here is my solution.

I limit my bragging to two audiences. Both of these audiences are ‘on my side’ and truly celebrate my victories, with no jealousy.

  • Audience 1: God
  • Audience 2: My family

My suggestion: Find your audiences that celebrate with you and limit your brags to them. If no audience comes to mind, journal to Jesus. He’s on your side.

Brendan and his sister Brigid
Brendan and his sister Brigid

A bit more pessimism would also be useful for my goat kid Brendan. While I pressed apple cider this morning Brendan was practicing his Optimistic 3 P’s. “Just because the other goats aren’t invited to help doesn’t mean I’m not wanted. Just because she told me ‘no’ yesterday doesn’t mean it’s still ‘no’ today. Just because I’m not invited to help with cider pressing doesn’t mean she doesn’t want my help with all her other outdoor projects, like hanging laundry or fixing fence.” And I don’t think Brendan feels any personal responsibility for things that go wrong.

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