With experience comes pessimism
One battle I wage everyday is to suppress my desire to assume the worst. As an attorney, I am trained to look for every possible scenario which includes worse case scenarios. On a personal level, my thought pattern of choice is "catastrophizing". I shared this with a friend and she asked "is that even a word?" I explained what it was and she couldn't believe I thought that way most of the time. I couldn't believe that everyone doesn't think this way most of the time. I think pessimissm comes from experience. Life experience.
The longer you rotate around the sun, the more you are lied to, taken advantage of, experience loss, suffer grief, lose your religion, and feel pain. It accumulates over time. And it wears you down. Why should you expect the best when it might not happen? I've realized that negative thinking has got a tight grip on me right now. I am envious of people who look for joy in their life and can fill a gratitude journal. I have gratitude envy. I have become an all seasons Mr. Scrooge.
How can I break out of thinking the worst? The first step, as with any behavior change, is awareness. I need to catch myself before I fall into the pit of pessimissm. I resist the things I know will help. More gratitude, compassion, and acceptance. That may come with time, but that is not the place to start because it seems too far out of reach.
Because this blog post is a little gloomy, I want to share a decatastrophizing worksheet that I am going to try. Not my ideas, I read about them on psychology blog posts.
- Clearly state the catastrophe.
- Challenge the truth of the statement.
- Come up with 3 positive alternative statements.
- How likely is this to happen?
- How awful would it be if this did happen?
- Supposing the worst did happen, how would I cope?
You don't have to use this, but if you also struggle with repetitive negative thought patterns, seek and try different ways to change your thinking. There are endless ideas on the interwebs and I always recommend a therapist. I think we should be assigned one at birth, but that is a different blog altogether. If you give this worksheet a try, let me know how it goes.