Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Joys Of Pessimism

Joy and Pessimism?? Aren't these two supposed to be mutually exclusive?
I have been a life-long pessimist. If I accomplish something, I always feel that it's not enough. That I could have done better. And God forbid if I make any mistake, I am the first to run myself down (Question:Is this pessimism or trying to be perfect all the time? Not sure).

There is some term in psychology called 'Defensive Pessimism'.Actually, I had no idea about it. But when I read what it means, I felt like that's what I do all the time. After every exam/interview, my mom used to ask me how it went. Every time I used to say ok-ok types. Coz I myself have never felt overly confident about my abilities. I always think that whatever I know, it's very basic. Every person must know at least this much. My poor ma spent all my school and college years thinking that I would surely fail in the exams. So whenever the results were out, and I managed to do well, she used to be so happy. Even I would be happy coz I always had this feeling that I would fail. Which is exaggerating things a bit too far, coz I was never a bad student. It’s hard to be pessimistic when you know you are good.

Being pessimistic has some advantages too. Since I have several hundred scenarios of what could go wrong, it makes me extra cautious. And I try to think of solutions to the problems. Any good thing that happens to me is so surprisingly wonderful. The feeling of happiness is heightened since it was completely unexpected. And if anything bad happens, it feels anticlimactic.

But I would gladly change this thing about myself. It's no fun thinking constantly about the worst thing that could happen to me. I don't like acting like the Angel of Death and Doom. And sometimes when bad things are not happening as fast I like, I deliberately set out to wreck things. I know it's very dumb of me, but the relief that I feel after the worst comes true is kind of therapeutic. I am trying to reach some sort of middle ground. But I don’t know whether I will live to see that day...... [Ahhh, spoken like a true pessimist :-)]

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