Thursday, July 23, 2015

Delta Perspective: You Aren’t a Realist you are a Pessimist

I’ve never met a self-identified pessimist, but I’ve met many realists. I’ve never met a realist who thought he was pessimistic, but rather he was the only one who was smart enough or at least brave enough to see how things really are. I’ve never met a self-identified defeatist but I’ve met plenty of men who will shoot holes in every plan and shoot their allies in the back to prove their point.

Pessimism is easy
Since we live an imperfect world to say the very least it is simple to default to pessimism regardless of the subject at hand. We’ve all seen plenty of good ideas and good men fail at what they’ve tried, and many of us have experienced it in our own lives as well. We’ve all seen good organizations go corrupt, evil groups win, and people acting in terrible ways to each other. Given that organizations tend towards bureaucracy, corruption, and infighting over time, it’s easy to paint them with a broad brush as all being corrupt. All one has to do is pick out ten new ideas, businesses, and organizations, predict they will fail and you’ll be right the majority of the time. There’s nothing to it. A child could have the same level of success simply by being pessimistic.

Pessimism is lazy
If every organization is corrupt, if every man has no honor, if every woman will eventually cheat, if every idea is probably going to fail given enough time then the easy thing to do is sit it out. Why donate a cent to a charity? We all know that the SJWs will eventually take it over. It’s inevitable. Why support a church, when you know there are bad pastors in the denomination? The churches are all businesses and wards of the state anyways. Why get behind an idea? It probably won’t work out, and then if you are on the wrong side of things there’s personal cost. It’s not worth it.

Defeatism is treasonous
Have some so-called allies on your side? Better watch them carefully for the smallest misstep and point it out right away! In fact the best thing to do when allies make a mistake or a bad choice is distance yourself from them immediately, declare them worse than your enemies, and let everyone know of their behavior. You told everyone it wouldn’t work out! Why the hell didn’t they listen to you? It’s so baffling that nobody listens to your realistic view of the world and instead of doing nothing, go out and fail as you expected! Next time, be sure to shoot down these “allies” immediately whenever they come up with some harebrained scheme to fight and instead go present yourself as a moderate voice of realism to your enemies. At least your enemies know how to win, unlike your stupid, incompetent “allies”.

Defeatism is lonely
You’d have a lot more friends if they didn’t constantly disappoint you. The women you meet? They are all sluts and sluts in the making. None of them are worth a damn, let alone your time. Better to be alone for sure! You looked into some charities and churches, but they are worst of the lot. Those that aren’t completely corrupted are filled full of hypocrites, and even being associated with them would be a slight on your perfect record. Why bother with things that have flaws or don’t live up to your standards? You might be willing to run one of them if you were given complete control and people would do exactly what you’d say, but you know they’d never just hand it over to you like they should, and anyway, people would just fail to listen to you and screw it up anyhow.

You aren’t the voice of reason
Pointing out the flaws, problems, issues and failures of everything presented to you or going on around it neither reasonable nor productive. It’s unreasonable and destructive. It’s cheap. It’s easy. Sure, it makes you right most of the time since so many things do go wrong and fail, as if that matters, but it makes you a traitor to the very causes you claim to support. There’s a culture war going on, ranging from churches, to the Red Pill, to GamerGate, to society, even to civilization itself and you need to ask yourself the question: which side are you really on?

Do you shoot at your allies as much as the enemy? Do you support your allies’ ideas and actions even if they are less than entirely perfect, and less than flawlessly executed? Have you ever put actual money where your mouth is? And most importantly, is your gun pointing at the enemy lines, or at the guy wearing the same uniform sitting next to you in the foxhole?

Pick a side, fight hard, and don’t ever shoot your friends in the back.

16 comments:

shallowthoughtswithgeoff said...

This reminds me of Proverbs 15:15: To the afflicted every day is evil, but for the cheerful of heart there is a continual feast.

These descriptions of persons are super useful for A) interacting with others and B) determining how you respond to the world around you.

The afflicted person is the person who persistently finds the negative either through being depressed or just being a faux-realist/real-pessimist. These folks often rain on their own parade and crap all over other people's joy. The cheerful of heart always finds the silver lining. They sometimes wonder why/how other people can be distressed or sad ever.

Brad Andrews said...

I work in the information security field where we need to consider the worst things that could happen to make sure we plan properly. Part of that will involve planning for the worst thing that could happen, but it should almost never involve doing nothing at all because something bad could happen.

Good point on noting the difference between acknowledging the bad things and letting them paralyze you. Knowing and evaluating risks is good. Letting them paralyze you is not.

hank.jim said...

I'm wondering if the word pessimism applies to men in general. If men are pessimistic, they wouldn't be trying so hard. It is women that is most pessimistic.

Corvinus said...

Come to think of it... I don't think there is any such thing as an ALPHA pessimist. An ALPHA realist who considers the downsides of a situation but thinks of ways to beat or get around them, sure. But not a pessimist.

@hank.jim
Actually, I think it's because women talk, men do.

Owen said...

If you find yourself in a perpetual pessimistic state, I have some tips:

First, crack open Steve Covey (an example, but not the only source) and read about the power of daily affirmations. Affirmations were lampooned by Franken (aka Stuart Smalley), but they can actually improve your emotional health and overall success. Covey gives specifics about characteristics of affirmations (personal, action oriented, etc.). It's more than telling yourself how great you are. It's about preparing for possible negative outcomes and committing to a planned response.

Next, practice visualizations. Professional athletes do this and it appears to work. Is it hokum? Possibly, but I don't think it is. When visualizing a future encounter, get to a quiet, distraction free place. Make the visualization as real as possible. How will the room smell? Will there be cars driving outside or phones ringing? Focus on the details. It makes it more real. Practice the encounter. Rehearse the negative and your positive response to the turn of events. Do this a few times. When you approach your boss for the raise or (in my case) when I have to deal with my oldest who disobeys and tries to escalate everything into a fight, you'll have a mental memory of how you will react to the stimulus and won't be as easily swept away by emotional responses. I have used this to coach myself to deal with my hyper-dramatic oldest child and it works. I remain calm, stay on message, and finish what I set out to do.

Finally, whenever someone asks, "How are you?" in polite passing, respond, "Great!" And think of or have a reason why things are going great. Maybe there was no traffic. Maybe you finished a book. It doesn't matter. It reinforces positive feelings and nature. The other person almost always responds positively and reflects a positive mood.

Pessimism is an insidious habit. Make no mistake. it's a habit and it takes practicing positive habits to get out of the mood. Even if you're not a pessimist, I suggest trying these tips.

I had a rough divorce, but my kids needed a dad who didn't show the depression (I did go through a bout), didn't show the effects of the ex and her lawyer's machinations, and always moved forward. There were times I was consciously faking it. Things eventually turned and I was prepared to make the most of the upswing because I wasn't focused on the negative.

Owen said...

Found the Covey quote:

“A good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, it’s positive, it’s present tense, it’s visual, and it’s emotional.”

MidKnight (#138) said...

@Corvinus

I probably still am more pessimistic than I should be, but avoided "realist" because it seemed to be used as a more pleasant sounding euphemism for "bitter cynic" or pessimist.

Internally I'd think of my attitude as "pessimistic Pollyanna" - a starting belief that things can work out, and going through potential problems to make sure that not only are there are no showstoppers - but so that any issues can be overcome.

Matamoros said...

I find this pessimism in all too many religious people. The devil is taking over the world, all is lost, woe is me.

I see a cheerfulness and cause for joy in all this. As a Catholic I am promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18). Further we are promised the triumph of the Immaculate Heart - that Russia will be converted and that there will be a time of true peace.

Therefore rather than doubtful, the end is certain. God, His Church, and His Faithful will triumph - it is already set. We are in the middle of the battle, not unsure and unsupported, but with the certainty of victory.

It therefore lies upon us to fight the good fight, destroy the enemies of God as we can, and prepare for our victory. Thus, there should be joy and not pessimism among Christians.

Having said this, I do remember a cartoon with the caption, “When you are knee deep in alligators it is difficult to remember that your initial purpose was to drain the swamp.” We do still have to fight, or we - individually - will not win.

AmyJ said...

@Matamoros

I agree with you about the religious pessimism. It's hard to avoid, especially if you have young children.

I think of what Jesus said to the women following him as he carried his cross toward Golgotha. No words of comfort, just a basic "it's going to get worse, ladies. It's going to be so bad, you'll envy the barren."

Things aren't that bad...yet.

rumpole5 said...

There is an ebb and flow to life. In the last month we had a broken dryer belt, a leaking water heater, a yellow jacket nest whose inhabitants stung one of the fellows who came to install the new water heater, a leak in the roof of our beach shack that I can't seem to fix, a plugged sewer line at my Alzheimer afflicted mother's home, and we just learned that in-laws are coming to stay from abroad to seek emergency medical treatment a day before the arrival of our 26 yoa son who is coming to stay with us and needs absolute quiet to study for Med School boards. His car also needs $1,600 in repairs, and we just moved him out of his third storey apartment (no elevator) 300 miles away while he was officer training with the army. It has been like the biblical plagues of Egypt!

However: I HAVE an officer Med school son, I HAVE a beach shack, I HAVE a mother I can hug, and I HAVE clean clothes and hot showers. Plus most of this crap is in the rear view mirror. Life is on the whole good.

Jack Amok said...

I’ve never met a self-identified pessimist,

I call myself an optimistic pessimist, and no, that isn't a contradiction. Most ideas are bad ideas and most things you might try won't work. That's the pessimistic side of the equation. But, if most things are bad ideas, then some things are good ideas, and some things will work. So the secret to success, or at least one large part of it, is giving yourself enough rolls of the dice to work through the inevitable failures until you can find success.

There are a lot of elements that go into that, but among them are these:

1 - Don't bet the farm unless you have absolutely no other option. Nothing is a sure thing, and you don't want failure to be catastrophic. Painful, yes, but not devastating. Your can't allow your self-worth to be tied to never being wrong or never failing.

2 - Understand what success looks like so you have some ability to judge whether you are succeeding or failing. This is critical to getting 3, 4 and 5 right.

3 - If you are failing and see no reasonable way to salvage the plan, pull the cord and move on to your next plan. Don't ride the ship into the ground.

4 - Don't bail out before your plan has had a chance to work. If it takes 9 failures to find 1 success, you don't want to throw away your hit accidentally. So even though you go into each effort knowing that it may fail, you also go into it confident it can succeed and deserves your best effort.

5 - Once you do hit on success, pour on the fire. Strike while the iron is hot. May hay while the sun shines. You get the picture, don't be timid or lazy. Capitalize on opportunity when it's there, because it won't always be at your beck and call.

JCclimber said...

I'm a cynical optimist. I believe most things will fail, that if something can go wrong, it probably will, etc..

But I hope and believe that this time might be an exception, that most failures are due to poor planning and not bad luck, that most people want to do a good job if you provide the correct incentives.

Life is so much joyous by focusing on the positive, while accepting that the negative is out there and will often whap you upside the head or kick your balls.....and life goes on and you continue to be grateful for each blessing.

Corvinus said...

@Matamoros

Generally, pessimism among religious people seems to correlate with either depression or sustained difficult circumstances, from what I have been able to gather. Although the crazy situation our civilization has sunk into also can contribute. I just take it as an opportunity to fight harder wherever possible (such as on Disqus comboxes, where I use an anonymous handle and can go at it with SJWs).

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