Its 2018, we live in a world of the perfect storm sensitivity and cynicism, so much so that it is literary killing us. Studies conducted at Harvard and Boston University concluded that pessimistic men were twice as likely to develop heart disease as optimistic ones. Perhaps the Christmas classic was incorrect; the Grinch’s heart had already grown twice its size prior to that Christmas day and the drastic increase of love left him in dire need of medical attention. Twice as likely to develop a life threatening disease just from outlook on life?
When I was young I couldn’t wait to grow up, I had grand dreams and hopes that all seemed within reach as a wide-eyed teen. When do we grow our cynical bones and start to interpret the world with a negative view? Week 5 of 52 small changes challenges me to view life with a positive note. After reading studies and falling down countless WebMD rabbit holes I found that I am the biggest pessimist there is! WTF?!?! I had considered myself to have a generally positive outlook and to be able to roll with the punches. I was wrong.
The line between optimism and pessimism is blurry, it ultimately comes down to inner dialogue. Negative self talk is the core of pessimism and that fit me like a glove. I have always had a rough inner dialogue, I demand perfection and only see failure. I knew these were things I have had to work on, only in researching this challenge did I discover the different ways I set my self up for failure.
The most common types of pessimistic dialogue are filtering, personalizing,polarizing,and catastrophizing. Of these sins I am guilty.
Filtering is when you’re given constructive criticism but only hear the negative, or are even complemented and can only see failure. This is one of my biggest struggles, we love to host parties after all I went to culinary school I should know how to host the perfect dinner party. 99% of our events go off with out a hitch, my piquillo crab dip is picturesque and MF has drinks in the works. Perfect. Inside my head is a totally different story. My inner dialogue is always so rough. I hurriedly dice herbs for garnish with mutters of lack of hustle and fan napkins at the last second for our friends who in all actuality probably don’t really care about the tablescape, they just want to hang out and watch the game. It’s all pessimistic self talk and I am queen of the filters
Personalizing is immediate self blame for failure. Kids act a fool? Your fault. Dog got sick? Your fault. Neighbor Bill blew his tire? Totally your fault. I was taught from a young age to take responsibility for my actions, with a pessimistic point of view it can be easy to skew these lines too and take responsibility for things outside of your control.
Polarizing is only seeing one end of the spectrum. Things are either black or white, right or wrong, there is no in between to be found.
Catastrophizing is anticipating the worst outcome from any event. When I was a young mother I struggles with this one the most. I was so worried that something was going to happen I was riddles with anxiety and had a hard time allowing my kids to explore or grow with out helicopter action.
Negative self talk isn’t going to stop overnight. I read it best described as talk to yourself like you would your SO’s grandmohter. No one is going to tell Nana she’s stupid and forgot to get milk or that she’s too incompetent to properly sear a steak. If you’ve got those kind of monsters in your life they should be let go stat, no ones got time for Nana bashers.
Daily affirmations can be a great addition, as is practicing gratefulness; both take time to focus on the positive in the day and can help retrain your brain to see the beauty in all the chaos. The laws of attractiveness I also found quite interesting, this is the theory of vision boarding, focusing on what you want to happen and working actively toward it. Seeking positivity will bring positivity and with it happiness in any situation. The focus of this week will be on telling the grumpy inner me to stuff it and to see the changes I am making, to celebrate victory, and strive for greatness.