Urgh! This is soooo going to suck!
That’s the first thing that came to my mind as I beheld the craggy trail going up the hill, smack in the middle of the park, exposed to the elements.
It was Monday morning. It was cold, it was raining, and I was about to sprint up that hill, because I’d said that I’d do it. And I like to walk the talk. Or, in this particular case, run it.
At this point, you may be thinking: But Fabi, you’re the mindset specialist! Aren’t you supposed to be talking about turnarounds? This much negativity can’t be good, right?
Well… yes and no. In fact, I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with my thoughts on that particular morning.
PESSIMISM AS A TOOL
My natural tendency in life is to stay on the optimist/neutral side of things. That’s just who I am: not overly excitable, and ready to give pretty much anything and anyone the benefit of the doubt.
I also believe that going to worst-case-scenario can have surprising value, when it’s used as a tool—and not a go-to state of mind!
Imagine that you’re faced with a potentially unpleasant situation. How do you react?
While optimism is definitely something that I cultivate in my life, it occasionally feels like swimming against the current—which can sometimes be quite transformative and valuable. But what about the times where it just feels like too much? Where going against the flow feels simply delusional?
This is where I change tactics, and choose to appreciate the struggle instead. And here, by appreciate, I don’t mean so much to be thankful for it—although there is that too—but to really appraise it. See it for what it is, with full awareness.
What is the worst that can realistically happen in this situation?
In certain cases, that “worst” can be pretty tame: sprinting uphill on an uneven road in the chilly morning drizzle certainly isn’t pleasant, but I’ve successfully faced a plethora of more arduous life circumstances.
Some other worst-case scenarios are obviously much more challenging, but the key is to remember that they are just that: scenarios. We can never pretend to know with 100% accuracy how events will unfold, and therefore how we choose to act according to these scenarios is the dividing factor.
Do we let pessimism stop us in our tracks, and paralyze us because things may suck?
Or do we assess that yes, there’s a high likelihood of unpleasantness, but screw it, we’ll go anyway?
NO MUD, NO LOTUS
Like fear—to which it is closely linked—pessimism can be useful as long as we don’t surrender the reins of our life to it. Using it as a systems check can help us become more resourceful and more resilient.
What will I do if [insert supreme suckiness] happens?
The answer is very seldom permanently crumbling into a little heap of nothingness. When we trust that we’ll be able to handle whichever situation is sent our way, even if it sucks, we remain rooted in our own power.
There’s real beauty and strength in overcoming. Yes, it feels raw, uncomfortable and often way too vulnerable, but it’s when we embrace that process that we give ourselves permission to grow.
Being all light is as dangerous as being all dark, simply because denial of emotion is what feeds the dark.
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