We have a tendency to make things harder on ourselves than is necessary.
Mostly through the vehicle of pessimism. Instead of interpreting our troubles as transient, controllable and specific to one situation, we tell ourselves the story that our suffering is our fault and will certainly last forever.
Seligman’s research on learned optimism found this story to be the key differentiator between those who flourish and those whose flail. People take much more responsibility for bad events than is warranted. And they have an endless supply of reasons why each of their successes is actually a failure.
That’s simply their way of explaining events to themselves. Either by default or by design.
But although there is a sad little death of hope and optimism that happens every time something tragic and unforeseen goes down, the good news is, all of us can exit out of our pessimistic mindset and into a more flourishing attitude.
Will this truly be an insurmountable barrier, or is it a temporary obstacle?
One method that’s been helpful for me is to ask questions to point out just how absurd my cynical thinking really is.
- Is this really dangerous, or are you creating a catastrophe that is simply not there?
- Are you actually about to fall off a cliff, or are you just going over a small bump?
- Will this truly be an insurmountable barrier, or is it a temporary obstacle?
It’s a reminder to myself that, look, this is not what you want to be spending your thought process on. Insert some rationality into your thought process. And trust that whatever suffering may come to pass, tell yourself a story that reminds you that it’s not permanent, it’s not pervasive and it’s not personal.
Free yourself from the tyranny of pessimism.
Let the light of truth drive out the shadows.
And if you drive people crazy with your relentless optimism, but it all works out for you, then that’s not your problem.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What will reaffirm the faintest glimmer of optimism in your failing spirit?