Are your thoughts causing you to decrease motivation in your life?
Ask yourself these things:
Do you consider yourself a pessimistic person? Do you often see the glass half-empty instead of half-full? Perhaps you get called a cynic or a downer when you express your thoughts? Finally, do you consider yourself a real individual and tend to believe that real life is negative and full of bad things?
There are plenty of pessimists in the world. If you answered “yes” to any of the prior questions, you might be one of them. A pessimist can see nothing but doom and gloom, but it can also be someone who tends to see the risks and challenges more than the good things in life. You might not feel like celebrating positive things, or you might go as far as to preach that everything is hopeless!
Wherever you fall on the spectrum of pessimism, it’s worth being aware of the fact that pessimism is more likely to harm than help you. But how can it be bad for you, and is there any way to stop it? Here are four ways pessimism can decrease motivation and ways to prevent it in three methods.
Four Ways Pessimism Can Decrease Motivation
Do you feel pessimistic? It might make you feel less motivated. Here is why.
Many pessimists struggle with stress, according to research. You’re likely to have poor coping skills for stress when you’re a pessimist, which can lend itself to exhaustion, fatigue, and a lot of anxiety. This stress happens because pessimists focus on bad things a lot, which will build stress levels in the body and make them less satisfied with life.
It’s true that, for some, a little bit of stress can be motivational. But the kind of stress that comes from pessimism – and the accompanying anxiety that stems from it – is not the kind to make you more motivated. Instead, it is likely to paralyze you, causing:
- Worst-case scenario-type thinking
- Excessive nervousness and worrying
- Too much rumination
And, of course, the more paralyzed you are, the more stressed out and anxious you get. But the more pessimistic you become in turn, leading to a deadly cycle that begets itself!
2. A Sapped Level of Confidence Can Decrease Motivation
Pessimism inherently tends to involve a lack of confidence. This is because the trait requires you to constantly think the worst may happen, which is a sign that you may:
- Not believe in your capabilities to overcome problems and issues.
- Seek to protect yourself against being hurt by others by expecting the worst, so you’re never disappointed.
- Think you’re incapable of change and therefore believe you’re stuck in a situation forever.
- Feel that you have no control over your life or its circumstances.
- Think you have no power over the events in your life.
These are all marks of lacking confidence. When you believe in yourself, it’s tough to be pessimistic, as you naturally trust that you can overcome unfavorable circumstances. You get none of that positive thinking if you lack the self-esteem necessary for such belief, and your motivation suffers for it. You can’t have any drive if you don’t believe anything will come of it!
A lot of times, this kind of pessimism is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you don’t believe in yourself, your chance of success is also depleted because you don’t come in with confidence and awareness of your strengths. And then, when you don’t achieve success, you, with pessimism, may say something like, “I knew I couldn’t do it.” Naturally, this only further confirms your thoughts and makes you even more pessimistic!
3. The Resulting Depression Might Decrease Motivation
Many individuals who are pessimists tend to overthink a lot, which can decrease mental wellbeing. Studies suggest that those who contemplate, brood, and overthink at higher rates often possess a worsened risk of developing depression and depressive symptoms.
Worse still, the cycle of negative thoughts is such that the more you have them, the more depressed you get, making you even more negative thoughts. Pessimism is, essentially, a downward spiral, and it’s a difficult one to break free from.
This kind of lack of positive thinking is enough to dampen motivation. You may think you’re not capable of success, which depresses you, and then that depression makes things feel even more hopeless. You may also experience other problems related to depression and its symptoms as a result, such as:
- Low self-esteem
- Poor moody
- Constant negative thoughts
4. Pessimism Decreases Motivation by Making Problems Seem Unsolvable
Pessimists have a specific explanatory style. An explanatory style refers to the way with which you interpret events and situations in your life. Studies show that optimists minimize negative things and focus on positive ones while pessimists maximize negative things and minimize positive ones.
Being aware of negative things is essential to proper problem-solving and planning, but there’s a point where focusing on the negative harms more than it helps. A pessimist faced with a struggle or challenge may focus so much on the negative that all problems feel more magnified, reducing the motivation to solve or overcome challenges to begin with.
On the other hand, an optimist, full of positive thinking, will be focusing on the good things and using that to motivate them to solve problems and move forward. They don’t feel the helplessness that a pessimist may feel, and they’re interested in seeking bold new solutions and turning to the future so they can learn and grow.
This positive thinking form is also known as a “growth mindset.” This mindset means that, when faced with difficult circumstances or even outright failure, you’d be motivated to keep going because you’re happy that you get to learn from those events. Pessimists don’t have this mindset, so they have no motivation, nor do they have any positive way of coping! They’re more likely to give up because of how helplessly they perceive the world around them.
Now that negativity decreases motivation, here are some new habits you can embrace to offset its impacts.
1. Welcome Challenges
Pessimists often view challenges as high risks for failure, making them less likely to feel motivated to face the challenges they encounter. If that describes your worldview, then it’s time to change the way you view those challenges.
Instead of being afraid of them, worrying about them, or overthinking them, start welcoming the challenges you may face. They’re not your enemy, and facing a setback or “failing” doesn’t mean that you have truly failed. You can hammer this message home by:
- Thinking of challenges as opportunities to grow and learn.
- Considering missteps as lessons instead of as signs of failure.
- Understanding that mistakes through challenges are unavoidable in life but that they’re always things you can learn from.
- Getting into the habit of reflecting on how you handled challenges to improve yourself.
Being aware that challenges are empowering can help you find the motivation that you need to move forward and overcome pessimism.
2. Get Rid Of Negative Sources and Create Positive Ones
If you’re surrounded by negativity, you’re likely to begin to embody that trait more fully. As such, if you notice that you struggle to let go of pessimism, you may want to examine your life and world and find out what is encouraging that way of thinking. Here are some ways to do so:
- Consider the media that you consume. How much negative news do you watch or read? Do you watch, read, or listen to content that makes you anxious or upset? Can you add something positive to your media repertoire?
- Consider your thoughts. Do you have more negative thoughts than positive ones? How can you challenge negative thoughts with positivity? What realities can you ground yourself in that counteract unreasonable negativity on your part?
- Consider who you hang out with. Do you spend your time surrounded by negative people who only further encourage your pessimism? How can you surround yourself with more positive people that you feel uplifted by?
- Consider the bad things that happen around you. Can you create positivity through acts of kindness that counteract those terrible things? While you shouldn’t feel responsible for changing those bad things, is there also a way that you can help to reduce them? Would you feel good about yourself through helping others?
When you’re able to counteract these harmful sources with positive ones. You will naturally feel more motivated because the things in your life uplift and encourage you instead of dragging you down.
3. Use Pessimism In A Positive Way
This point sounds counter-productive, but consider this! Pessimists are more likely to prepare for and foresee potential problems and obstacles in their future, allowing them to be protected against tough times. They’re often better prepared for difficult circumstances because they’re capable of acknowledging risks and negative possibilities.
Research proves that these benefits from pessimism can be pretty significant, allowing for some pessimists to enjoy:
- More secure safety nets when embarking on risky endeavors
- Better preparedness against challenges and difficult circumstances
- Improved resilience in challenging times due to mental and physical preparedness
- A more solid worldview that doesn’t become upended by hard times
- Higher risk awareness for wiser decision-making
Do note, of course, that this kind of pessimism is beneficial only in moderation and balance. It should be used to inform your choices and make you more aware of adverse outcomes so you can avoid rose-colored glasses and toxic positivity. However, once your pessimism starts dampening your motivation, you’ve gone too far off the deep end, so use this tip with caution!
How can you achieve the perfect balance? The idea is simple: while you can plan for the worst, you should also hope for the best. Just because you’re preparing for the worst-case scenario, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t practice positive thinking about what you want to happen.
Envisioning your desired outcome while creating backup plans grounded in realism is genuinely the way to go! The positive visualization helps your motivation, and your careful preparation will keep that motivation alive if hurdles pop up along the way.
Human beings need a balanced measure of pessimism and optimism to live in a positive and mindful way. As such, being nothing but a pessimist will do you more harm than good and will cause you to lose motivation. Do your best to counteract your extreme pessimism with optimism and help those two traits to work together in harmony for the best results!