I’m primarily a positive thinking kind of guy. Yet, at times there is also some strength and power to be found in negative thinking. For instance, at times I ask myself, “What is the WORST that can happen? Can I deal with it?” When you can deal with the worst of the downside, it takes a lot of the pressure off. Also, by thinking through the downside and coming up with plans or solutions in advance, I’m a lot more capable of responding when and if bad things do happen.
This “premeditation of evils,” sometimes known as “defensive pessimism,” is an effective technique to reduce anxiety that goes back to the ancients. Seneca the Stoic counseled those who worried about unemployment or bankruptcy to “set aside a certain number of days in which to be content with the scantiest and cheapest of fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself all the while: “Is this the condition I feared?”
I fashion myself a realistic optimist. I cheerfully set out to give my best daily and scale new heights, firmly believing that I will succeed most of the time, knowing that I will NOT succeed all the time but supremely confident that a way will eventually be found or that a new, perhaps even better goal will be found and achieved.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Over, under, or around, there is always a way. Even if on occasion I have to harness the power of negative thinking to get there.Download as PDF