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When Negativity Beats Optimism (And How to Stop It)

There is nothing more powerful or more useful than a healthy, optimistic set of beliefs. Optimism is an empowering mix of hope, belief, and confidence. It simply doesn’t pay to be pessimistic, and it doesn’t pay to be a realist if being a realist means not operating with a sense of hope, belief, and confidence.

There are many more pessimists than there are optimists, and your optimistic belief and attitude is under constant assault from outside forces.

For some, their optimism is fragile. It hasn’t taken root deep enough that it can’t be undone by pessimists and cynics. Here is how and why pessimism wins and what you can do about it.

When pessimism gets the last word. Pessimism wins the battle for hearts and minds when it gets the last word. The pessimist or cynic continues to chip away, constantly criticizing, complaining, and reminding would-be optimists of just how difficult things really are, that things should be easier, that things are better somewhere else.

Try this. Ask the pessimist: “What’s the other side of your argument (complaint, idea)?” Then be very quiet.

When pessimism comes from the leader. Pessimism always wins when it comes from the leader. An organization is an extension of its leader. If they don’t believe, if they don’t have confidence, neither will the organization. A leader provides a vision, without optimism, there is no real vision.

If you are in a leadership role, you need to change fast. Go on a negativity fast, and stop taking in anything negative.

When no one opposes negativity. Optimism loses when no one opposes pessimism. This is how cultures are destroyed by a few negative people. The pessimists are so sure that things are bad and getting worse, and they speak about so relentlessly, that it starts to take hold in others. Without someone to oppose pessimism, it wins without a contest.

If you are in a leadership role, you have to protect your culture. If you’re not, stand up to the pessimists who would have you lower your personal standard. Visibly call them on their poor attitude and beliefs, playfully if you can, more directly if you have to. You have a right to protect yourself.

When negativity plays on fears. There are only two real emotions, love and fear. Everything is a derivative. Pessimism is so powerful because it speaks to your fears. The more you fear, the more the pessimistic attitude and belief system takes hold. The more the pessimistic attitude and belief system takes hold, the more you fear.

Ask the pessimist, “What fear do you believe is driving you to believe that idea?”

Optimism is a powerful force. But so is pessimism. Don’t let negativity destroy your empowered attitude and beliefs.


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