Friday, July 10, 2009
Pessimism, Is It Really That Bad?
There was this time, back when I was in high school, where I worked so hard to attain one silly childish endeavor: to make it to the honor roll for the third grading period. I worked so hard, studied my lessons, put extra effort in my homework and participated during class discussions. When the grading period ended, I was measured and sadly, I didn't make the cut. The cut-off grade was 90%, i only made 89.9%. I was 0.01% short, so sad, wasn't it? I cried so hard and sobbed like my a little girl who's pet just died. And I can vividly remember how I swore vehemently to myself that never again will I expect too much from something or someone. That heart wrenching experience is forever etched in my memory, in my being, that whenever some opportunity comes to me, or if someone promised me something, I never fully believed that it will come to pass. In every situation, I always looked at the gloomier side. I always perceived that the glass was half empty, never half full.
It's quite sad, when you think about it because going through life and facing life's challenges not hoping it will turn out for the best can be quite emotionally exhausting. Unbelievably, it's not that sad at all. In psychology, there's this thing called Defense Mechanisms. Defense mechanisms are our mind's way of shielding us from the impact of anxiety-provoking situations we face in our lives. Simply put, it helps us keep out sanity. Of all the Defense Mechanisms Sigmund Freud has come up, I can say that my pessimism falls on the category of Rationalization. Correct me if I'm wrong, I wouldn't mind but expecting the worse of any situation is a way of saving me all that hurt and disappointment when things don't come my way. Sure, human as I am, in my subconscious I have hope that things turn out positively, but my pessimism wins by a mile. Whenever I'm faced with uncertainty, I'm already expecting the worse to happen. Why? Because it makes failure and disappointment easier to bear and accept. When you're hoping for the best too much, it makes things harder to deal with and the pain is more severe, the healing and picking up the pieces takes longer to take place. When you expect the worse, you can shrug it off and tell yourself, "I knew this would happen, oh well.... time to move on." Sure, even if you expect the worse, you still feel the pain, but you were expecting this, so it doesn't really hurt that much. And when things come your way, the joy is so tremendous. It feels like the world is handed to you in a golden platter.
One "good" thing about pessimism is that expecting the worse of any situation drives you to come up with a Plan B. Since your anticipating for things not to go the way it's supposed to, it makes u think of other options. So in a way, it prepares you, gives u the strength to deal with a possible unfavorable situation and it paves the way for a graceful fall from grace.
I'm not advocating that everyone kill the optimistic spirit that burns in their hearts. Optimism is, perhaps, for the kindred kind. I probably haven't attained the maturity to possess such an attribute. But so far, pessimism helped me go through life's tribulations and disappointments. I have held my head up high in the face of disappointments because I have been expecting it. And it made me appreciate my triumphs and made success more meaningful and precious.