Lately, to most anyone who will listen, I’ve yammered about how anxious I feel.
“I know why,” I share to people who’ve most often already stopped listening.
“It’s because I’m living in the future. I have lots looming ahead and I’m continually trying to figure out how it will unfold while simultaneously trying to be PRESENT.”
I’m super-anxious and this is NOT a state I have familiarity with.
I don’t find calm in chaos. I find calm in….calm.
I don’t find relief in constant motion. I find relief in staying still.
As a result—and as the researcher I am—I looked for information.
I turned to Dr. Google and quickly discovered a whole group of people who practice something which initially seemed counter-intuitive to optimistic-me.
They’ve adopted an attitude which they claim helps lessen their anxiety and allowed them to better cope with life-uncertainty:
Quite frankly initially this all sounded more than a little wacky.
I’m a woman whose life perspective veers more toward My glass is so full it’s overflowing — may I pour some into yours? than Crapballs my glass is cracked. It was half-full but now it’s near empty.
Still, I had no better plan or approach to mitigating my anxiety (book! potential move! life uncertainty! living in future!) so I read on.
Defensive pessimism grew less CrAzY an idea the more I came to understand the concept.
- Defensive pessimists set low expectations no matter how they’ve done in the past (huh. not usually me.)
- Defensive pessimists make detailed assessments/focus on all possible bad outcomes/roadblocks to goals (huh. definitely not Law of Attraction.)
According to believers, this strategy harnesses uncertainty and anxiety (AKA my living in the future) and uses it to promote superior life performance.
Quite frankly I give not a
shit care about (finger quote) superior life performance (unFQ) I just wanna quit being so freakin frazzled.
So I adopted this mindset.
- I considered our upcoming book edits and I imagined how horrifically they could unfurl.
- I thought about the possibility of uprooting AGAIN and moving back to Austin and imagined myself alone, friendless with a sad eight year old sidekick.
And on and on.
I embraced & practiced defensive pessimism and found all the catastrophic scenarios I imagined were also pretty easily overcome when I puzzled through them in my mind.
This newfound sense of control over uncertainty has slowly chipped away at my feelings of anxiety.
Imagining the worst case scenario in EVERY FACET OF LIFE isn’t realistic (I know it’s not going to all unfold that way) yet it has helped me to realize I‘m ok no matter what transpires.
And until I can claw my way to viewing uncertainty in this positive light:
Defensive pessimism allows me to see the “worst possible outcome” or rough road ahead is, in fact, nothing I cannot handle.
I know you’re bored by my navel-gazing, really busy, and probably no one will bother to leave me any comments resulting in my feeling sooo super alone (wink), but just in case:
- What do you do when feeling anxious as a result of life-uncertainty?
- Do you question if you’re too naturally optimistic to try defensive pessimism?