How to deal with a pessimist?

Pessimists can ruin your whole day if you're not careful. You get out of bed relaxed, and after a nice breakfast and a bit of exercise, you meet that old friend. You cheerfully tell him about your plans to go on holiday. But before you know it, all your energy and desire to go is gone because of that one conversation with that pessimistic friend. How do pessimists do that, and how to deal with it?

A pessimist only sees the dark side of an idea

Pessimists are very good at highlighting the dark and negative side of an idea. They have trained themselves to ask themselves what can go wrong, is not right, and what negative effects can occur.

If you ask a real pessimist, he will never admit that he is a pessimist. He will find himself a true realist. Most pessimists praise themselves. They think they are smarter than the rest because they often know a lot of facts. Consequently, you can never win a discussion with a pessimist.

How do you become a real pessimist?

The word pessimist comes from the Latin pessimum. It means "worst". Contrary to what many people and certainly pessimists think and believe, no one is born a pessimist. Someone learns this consciously or unconsciously through past experiences.

If we have had an unpleasant relationship 2 or 3 times, we can become disappointed in people. Out of self-protection, we then want to believe that the next relationship will also be disappointing. We do this in order not to get hurt again.

Of course, this prediction has nothing to do with reality. Even having 100 bad relationships says nothing about the relationship that can come after that. The negative prediction is a cognitive distortion out of self-protection. Usually, the cause is too little self-confidence or self-esteem.

A pessimist goes one step further. He not only predicts a negative outcome for himself but also for others. And he likes to ventilate these ideas and opinions often.

The art of becoming a very experienced pessimist is to ask yourself the following 5 questions consistently:

  • What is the worst thing that can happen?
  • What problems can this cause?
  • What negative impact can this have on the world or others?
  • Who could suffer or get hurt?
  • What reason and arguments can I come up with as to why it is not a good idea?
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Why are pessimists so negative?

Pessimists have the gift of making ultimate negative predictions. They project their past negative experiences onto every new situation or idea. If you have 100 dollars in your pocket, you can keep it with you, spend it on something fun, or you can lose it. The pessimist will always assume the most negative and tell you not to lose the money.

For a pessimist, this is a form of giving attention and love. They do not realize that the recipient often does not experience this at all, like attention and love. They want to protect you unasked for a delusion that only they have in mind. An average person doesn't need that at all.

Out of politeness, many people will say thank you, which strengthens the pessimist in the idea that his approach and faith have helped someone. Unfortunately, this also means that the next individual who comes on his path will again be presented with an unsolicited pessimistic opinion.

Pessimists have obstructive convictions

Pessimists want with the best of intentions to protect the people around them and the world from delusions that live only in their heads. In most cases, this "protection" is unsolicited and pointless.

The reason they want to protect people and the world has nothing to do with their own belief that they are realists. The real problem lies with the conviction they have about people, the world, and sometimes themselves.

Pessimists have one or more of the following obstructive convictions:

  • People cannot be trusted
  • The world is a bad place
  • Misfortune can happen to anyone who's not prepared for it
  • Never trust an optimistic outcome
  • Always be prepared for negative outcomes
  • First see what went wrong or could go wrong
  • Criticism helps progress
  • People can usually not see for themselves what can go wrong and need help

The advantage of being a pessimist

Pessimists can take all the energy away from someone. But just as a pessimist has too negative predictions, an optimist can do the opposite. Too much optimism can turn out wrong and cause great disappointment.

The many warnings of a pessimist can save us from problems and mistakes that we, as an optimist, did not see at first. Just as dreamers and critics are different, optimists and pessimists are opposites that could support each other.

What is the best way to deal with a pessimist?

Like optimists, pessimists usually have the best intentions. They only approach a situation or idea from a different angle. Pessimists want to be heard and seen just like any other human being. By listening carefully and asking what problem the pessimist sees, he will feel heard.

Only once the pessimist has been heard, he will be open to possible outcomes other than what he has made up. In that case, a pessimist can come up with an optimistic idea, but will always remain suspicious.

Pessimism and depression

Pessimism can lead to depression and vice versa. By always emphasizing what is not right in the world, with people or situations, an overall picture can be created in which you can no longer enjoy life. It is a form of depression. Pessimism, however, is rarely or never the cause of depression, but it can strongly contribute to it.

Conversely, depression can also lead to a negative and pessimistic view of people, the world, and situations.

How can you learn to think more optimistically?

Optimism has a lot to do with what you focus on. Some people believe that even the worst person has something beautiful in them. Although for most people, this philosophy goes pretty far, this is how you can become more optimistic.

Optimism begins with the question of what can be beautiful, good, great, or fine about a person, idea, or situation. By consistently training yourself in shifting your focus to something positive, you slowly but automatically become a little more optimistic.

Coaches also offer a solution. They can help pessimists to overcome their cognitive distortions and get more self-esteem and self-esteem. There are coaches available via TheONE who can coach you directly online via a live video connection. The first minute is free, and after that, you pay a fixed amount per minute.

Ben Steenstra Ben Steenstra
6 mins read
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