5 Easy Steps to Rewire a Pessimistic Brain
It's easy to be a pessimist: the media floods our brains with sensational stories of the worst possible kinds. And since so many of us get our news from social media, tragedy is just a click away. All that negativity shapes our perspective which then changes how we deal with our own personal lives and relationships.
A missed promotion at work, a breakup or divorce, or any failure can easily sap our self-esteem and confidence leading us down the spiral of pessimism - the belief that regardless of effort, the outcome is predetermined and not in our favor.
The thing is, and we know you've heard something similar before, outcomes are based on outlook. In other words, your attitude has a big influence on how things turn out. Champions, Olympic athletes, successful CEO's, anyone who excels at what they do takes the attitude of learning from a failure or mistake.
Rather than turn pessimistic and become doubtful or hesitant towards the future, winners look for the opportunity that a failure offers. They take a moment to reflect on what went wrong, and how to make their next attempt better. You might not win for awhile - but eventually you will. Here are 5 easy steps you can take to start the process of rewiring a pessimistic mind into that of an optimist.
Visualize Positve Outcomes
Atheletes know how important visualization is. They replay every move on the field in their minds looking for what went wrong, and what was right. This visualization helps to identify what made an attempt successful, and what was wrong so that it can be corrected.
After an interview, take a few moments to replay the questions from your interview in your head. Most of us do something like this, identifying what we did wrong and wish we had said, but the key to visualization is to also replay the good stuff as well. This way we can learn how to repeat those positives, and identify how to minimize the negatives.
Focus on What is Perfect
It would be easy for anyone to list all of their faults and shortcomings, but try taking a more optimistic approach by listing what is good, or perfect about you. Maybe you are better trained than the other guy applying for the job, but he is just better about selling himself.
While no one is actually perfect, there is something in all of us that is head and shoulders above the crowd. The key is to find those traits and put them in the best light possible. So rather than say "I didn't get the job" ask yourself if you put in 100% effort to prepare for the interview. If you didn't then admit the mistake, and develop a game plan to put forth a better effort next time. One that emphasizes your stand out, or perfect, qualities.
Focus on Something New and Good
It is way easier to spend the day highlighting all the negatives you come across - red lights that make you late, a mixed up lunch order, a date that cancels. But try doing a 180 to focus on the good for a few days.
Play a game of counting green lights on the way home, or noticing that the food you did receive was great, or maybe if it was completely wrong - the mixup gave you a chance to try something new for once. Maybe a date who does a no show is a chance to meet someone new. It's all about looking for the good in the bad and focusing on that.
You can take things a step further by focusing on learning something new. Rather then spend your down time reading depressing news headlines, try spending a few minutes everyday learning about something that has always been a curiosity. Plenty of apps can help you learn a new language, how to tie various knots, or all about the mating habits of zebras. Whatever. It doesn't matter what you learn if it's new and positive.
Work on Spontaneity
Pessimists tend to be boring and predictable. They fall back on the tried and true - what works or what is comfortable because they fear change. It might not be the best option, but it will never let them down or leave them unhappy. The problem is, the option a pessimist settles for will probably never make them completely happy either.
At work, this might manifest as refusing to try new ideas. In our personal lives, it could mean never visiting a new restaurant or trying a different whiskey. You can take baby steps towards rewiring your brain for optimism by venturing out to a new place to eat, or by letting the cute sommelier at the store pick out a new wine for you.
Many people talk about how beneficial meditation is, but we are here to tell you that the benefits are real. Taking time to reflect can help identify traumas that are holding us back, and help us to move past them to embrace a more optimistic attitude.
Trauma is easy to remember, it scars us and leaves a lasting mark. Good and positive things don't have the same effect. We tend to forget the positive quickly and dwell on the negative. One way to begin rewiring your perception is by taking the time to practice something called mindfulness therapy.
Similar to meditation, mindfulness is taking the time to focus and eventually clear your mind of those negative distractions. Some like to practice early in the morning before the start of a hectic day, while others choose the evenings. Find what works for you. A good place to learn more is by clicking here then incorporate it into your daily routine. Just a few minutes a day can work wonders.