Updated: Aug 17
Pessimist comes from the Latin word 'pessimus' meaning 'the worst'. Pessimism is always looking at the worst in every situation.
Constantly expressing pessimism is one of the easiest ways to appear informed, concerned and wise. Sure there is much to be pessimistic about nowadays, but it cannot be a substitute for thought. Unfortunately that has become the fashion.
One may ask, 'should we not be concerned about important matters?'
It is easy to confuse concern with pessimism. Concern triggers action, pessimism inhibits not only action but also further thought.
No doubt all action is triggered by fear, need or greed.
If left unchecked, pessimism becomes one's nature and develops into a self fulfilling prophecy.
Pessimism reflects a surrender, an inability to do anything.
Pessimism is dangerously contagious and if not responded to, will demoralise many more people who are touched by it. A pessimistic leader is a certain disaster for the people.
It is not always possible to avoid pessimistic people, but one can deflect or ignore their pessimism. I have adopted several approaches to handle pessimists.
First. I try to avoid them or keep to a minimum the interaction. Negativity is like a cancer which rapidly overpowers the host mind and spirit. Nothing exhausts a person more than negative thoughts. However not every pessimist can be avoided.
Second. I try to make light of the situation, the power of humour is great and its greatest when we can laugh at ourselves and our situation. This however does not work well with persons who are wealthy, powerful or famous, for these things make them extremely sensitive to their over inflated sense of themselves. It does not work well with spouses or parents because they know all our faults and do not deem it suitable to easily accept our views.
Third. I try to rationalise with them, a kind of counselling. This requires great patience and if one lacks that then this frustrating approach can be ignored.
Fourth. One way that one can snap out of pessimism is to focus on possible solutions and or alternatives. This can be effective therapy. It is the most powerful for the same energy and intellect is directed from negativity to positivity. Often the transformation and ensuing results can be phenomenal.
Optimists lift our spirits and half the battle is won by being optimistic. However blind optimism can be fatal.
Pessimists can be useful if one learns to understand and handle them. I always encouraged the involvement of a 'Dr. Doom' in my strategy and planning team. Pessimists should always be consulted especially for contingency planning. They tend to envision the worst possible scenarios and outcomes, The important point remember is, to take their advice with a pinch of salt and not get overpowered nor intimidated by their views.
A good formula that works well, is,
'Always plan for the worst and hope for the best.'