How to Overcome Pessimists Once and for All

Have you ever actually listened to an economist on the news? They might be the single most depressing group of people on earth. I’ve never heard one actually say anything optimistic.

How to Overcome Pessimists Once and for All

Here’s what a typical interview sounds like:

News reporter: Good news! The economy added 200,000 new jobs last month.

Economist: Yes, but…doom and gloom, obscure economic principle, the end of the world is near, etc. etc.

200,000 people who last month didn’t have jobs now have jobs and somehow Mr. Economist manages to find the negative. Do you know anyone like that?

The Cloud in Every Silver Lining

Some people are just like economists. No matter what happens in the world, they find the cloud in the silver lining. They’re called pessimists and you can overcome them.

When the pessimist hears good news like 200,000 people found work, he immediately thinks of all the possible problems with that. Rather than focus on the positives (like the satisfaction those 200,000 people feel right now), he focuses on whatever faults he can find in the numbers. Maybe the average wage is slightly lower or some of those 200,000 are still under the poverty line. Rather than celebrate a big win, pessimists remind us that the world is still not perfect (news flash!).

The Problem with Pessimists

The problem with pessimists is that they epitomize these four characteristics:

  • Depressing – Hang around them long enough and you’ll be depressed.
  • Draining – They literally sap the energy right from you.
  • Dominating – Pessimists can’t stand an optimist. They’ll argue with you until you either agree with them or submit.
  • Defeating – They can find fault in the past, present and future. They strip away all hope.

How to overcome pessimists – Step One

When I hear a pessimistic economist (I know, that is redundant) here’s what I do: I turn them off.

It’s the only thing you can do with pessimists. That’s what you need to do.

You turn them off.

Shut them up.

Tune them out.

Change the channel.

Hang up the phone.

Cover your ears.

Walk away.

End the friendship.

Leave the job.

How to overcome pessimists – Step Two

After you’ve tuned them out and left them behind, you have to replace the pessimism with something else. That means an influx of positivity.

Once you’ve tuned out or moved on from the pessimism, do these four things:

  1. Find the silver lining. Focus specifically on what is good. What does this make possible? What can I learn from it? What good comes out of this?
  2. State the positives. State, out loud, what is good about what you’ve just heard or read.
  3. Keep it to yourself (with one exception). Don’t go share the doom and gloom with large groups or on social media. It only reinforces the pessimism. The one exception to this would be to confide in a trusted friend or spouse who can help build you back up in the truth.
  4. Cheer yourself up. Sometimes, what you need more than anything is a pick-me-up and that is OK. Read something positive. Say something positive. Listen to comedy. Whatever gets you back to being…you!

Focus on what is good and enjoy the escape from the negativity. It takes less effort than you think to overcome pessimists.

NOTE: To be clear, this seemingly simple process is not all that is required if you have spent a lifetime being dragged down by constant pessimism. That type of ingrained pessimism might require a commitment to counseling. My method is meant to be used on occasion for isolated circumstances.

Question: How have you overcome pessimistic people, including yourself?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Bonus Content: You can learn to replace negative thoughts with positive expectations with my FREE worksheet, How to Set Positive Expectations. Click Here to Get it Now!

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  • Nancy Heidger Benavides

    I am the eternal optimist…it drives the pessimist crazy!!!!!!

  • Its been hard, but not surrounding my self with a particular person. I really miss the deep friendship we used to have, but i can’t support that particular attitude they chose to be as a full time pessimist.

    As for me, recognizing, those words are just empty thoughts and conversations. I’ve been practicing only saying things that are helpful and uplifting. AND I need to practice alot. I’ve notice people view me differently when I’ve made a choice to speak in positive words and not attacking/proving my point. The book Rich Habits helped me in that line of thinking.

  • It’s hard to fathom the extent to which we can limit our potential by being exposed to pessimism. You’re absolutely right, Matt, it has to be met head-on with deliberate action – while still doing everything possible to encourage and support persons that might be in a genuinely fragile mental state of mind.