OPTIMISM & PESSIMISM

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Definition: Optimism is hopefulness about the future or the successful outcome of something. Pessimism is the tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen.

Symptoms: Pessimism creates a paralyzing emotional state in sports. Athletes usually start their matches with highly optimistic expectations, but a single unforced error can cause them to overthink everything and question themselves. Pessimism affects all of us at times, and we need to replace this self-imposed, detrimental thinking with a positive outlook.

Solutions: Bud Bilanich has cited the findings of Brian Tracy (www.briantracy.com) in his article entitled, “The Difference Between Optimists and Pessimists” at www.budbilanich.com, herein adapted to note that there are three basic differences in the reactions of optimists and pessimists.

  • The first difference is that the optimist sees a setback as temporary, while the pessimist sees it as permanent. The optimist sees an unfortunate event as something that is limited in time and that has no real impact on the future. The pessimist, however, sees negative events as a permanent part of life and destiny.
  • The second difference between the optimist and the pessimist is that the optimist sees difficulties as specific, while the pessimist sees them as pervasive. When things go wrong for the optimist, the event is viewed as an isolated incident, largely disconnected from other things that are going on in his or her life. On the other hand, the pessimist sees disappointments as being pervasive. That is, to him or her they are indications of a problem or shortcoming that pervades every area of life.
  • The third difference between optimists and pessimists is that optimists see events as external, while pessimists interpret events as personal. When things go wrong, the optimist will tend to see the setback as resulting from external factors over which one has little control. If the optimist is cut off in traffic, for example, instead of getting angry or upset, he or she will simply downgrade the importance of the event by saying something like, “Oh, well, I guess that person is just having a bad day.” The pessimist has a tendency to take everything personally, so if the pessimist is cut off in traffic, he or she will react as though the other driver has deliberately acted to upset and frustrate him or her.

The hallmark of the fully mature, fully functioning, self-actualizing personality is the ability to be objective and unemotional when caught up in the inevitable storms of daily life. The superior person has the ability to continue thinking in a positive and optimistic way, keeping his or her mind calm, clear, and completely under control. The mature personality is more relaxed and aware and is capable of interpreting events more realistically and less emotionally than is the immature personality. As a result, the mature person exerts a far greater sense of control and influence over his or her environment and is far less likely to be angry, upset, or distracted.

Look on the inevitable setbacks that you face as being temporary, specific, and external. View the negative situation as a single event that is not connected to other potential events and as one that is caused largely by external factors over which you have little or no control. Simply refuse to see the event as being in any way permanent, pervasive, or indicative of personal incompetence of inability.  Resolve to think like an optimist, no matter what happens. You may not be able to control events, but you can control the way you react to them.

1 – Remind yourself that setbacks are only temporary and may not be as serious as you had thought.

2 – Look upon each problem as a specific event that is not connected to other events and is not indicative of a pattern of any kind. Deal with each individual problem and get on with your life.

3 – Recognize that when things go wrong, they are usually caused by a variety of external events. Realize that what can’t be cured must be endured, and then get back to thinking about your goals.

Will                                                                                                             PRACTICE

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