If you’re a pessimist, chances are you don’t view yourself as one. You may think of yourself as a realist or a cynic. Maybe you even value your ability to cut through the crap and tell it like it is. The problem is your pessimism may be dragging down your co-workers, your partner, and even your family and friends. Pessimists constantly perceive things in a negative light and opt for a “glass half-empty” mentality. This doomsday way of looking at the world has the power to not only bring down those around you, but also dampen your success in the workplace and hinder you own emotional growth. As Winston Churchill once put it, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Still not sure if you’re a pessimist? Wonder where you fall on the pessimism spectrum? These signs of pessimism should help you cut through any confusion or doubt.
1. You discredit victory
Say you land the job you’ve been gunning for or get chosen to represent your community at a public forum. Rather than attributing that success to hard work, you may consider it a lucky coincidence. Pessimists have trouble correlating their actions and efforts to the end result. Next time something good happens to you, notice how you react to it. Do you celebrate yourself for a job well done or do you talk down your successes and attribute them to luck and chance? Expecting positive outcomes will lead to better-than-anticipated results, while anticipating the worst, or explaining positive outcomes as luck, can actually hinder your progress.
2. You assume things won’t work out
Before anything even happens, do you find yourself assuming things won’t work out? Whether it’s making your meeting on time, developing a relationship, or applying for your dream job, pessimists have a habit of assuming that no matter how much effort they put in, the things they want will fail. This sign of pessimism also shows itself in the way you react when things actually don’t work out. How often have you reacted to a failure or setback by saying, “I’m not surprised,” or, “Of course it didn’t work out”? By constantly expecting the worst and then confirming those inclinations when things go wrong, you’ll find yourself caught in a cycle of negativity.
3. You rain on other people’s parades
For pessimists, it often isn’t enough to live under one’s own cloud of negativity. You may find yourself reacting to your co-worker’s suggestions with a slew of reasons why they won’t work or setting your partner straight after they express some far-reaching goals. While you may view your pessimistic reactions as necessary and even helpful, don’t expect those around you to thank you for your input. By shooting down other people’s dreams and ideas, you are sucking the life out of their optimism and bringing them down to your level.
4. You give up easily
How many times have you started a project only to drop it when things got too difficult? Pessimists tend to give up and move on quickly when faced with a challenging situation. One study found that optimists and pessimists working on the same anagram showed quite opposing behavior. Optimists worked on finding the solution 50 to 100% longer than the group of pessimists, according to a study cited in a Power of Positivity article. If success is found through hard work and persistence, your inclination toward pessimism may be limiting your success in the workplace, at the gym, in your personal relationships, and even in your own emotional growth.
5. You have a difficult time forgiving
Ever felt baffled at people’s ability to forgive and forget on a dime? Pessimists tend to have a difficult time letting go and forgiving others. This tendency to hold onto anger, bitterness, and resentment is physically and emotionally draining. Think about how much effort it takes to hold a long-term grudge against someone. A lack of forgiveness can take a toll on your relationships with others and greatly impact the way you view life and those around you.