I’m not sure how I came upon Julie Norem’s quiz — 12-questions that determine whether the participant is a defensive pessimist or a strategic optimist. Suffice it to say; I’m the latter. In spite of Ms. Norem’s assertion that defensive pessimism has its merits, I shall always err on the side of rose-colored glasses. Why? Because thinking good thoughts feels better, keeps me younger, and makes me so much more pleasant to be around!
Ever been around a nay-sayer? Exactly. Take that negative juju somewhere else thank-you-very-much.
In Ms. Norem’s 2008 book The Positive Power of Negative Thinking, she asserts that “defensive pessimism” is a useful tool for managing anxiety since not everyone can actually “think positive.” As a Law of Attraction practitioner, I don’t accept that “imagining all of the worst-case scenarios” could ever better prepare an individual for anything except an early grave.
While I may not be a doctor of psychology, I’ve come to understand through my experiences, and those of my clients, that what we choose to think is a choice, not an excuse. Any self-assured person willing to take responsibility for their thoughts and feelings would, I’m inclined to believe, come out the other end of Ms. Norem’s quiz as someone who embraces strategic optimism which, according to Ms. Norem’s definition, is typically used by people who aren’t anxious. She goes on to define individuals who use this strategy as people who set high expectations, and then actively avoid thinking much about what might happen.
Here’s where I can help improve the theory. It’s not that strategic optimists actively avoid thinking about what might happen — that takes far too much energy. We simply detach from the outcome.
Can you feel the difference?
In Ms. Norem’s dichotomic world, anyone who is not a strategic optimist is, by default, a defensive pessimist — someone who lowers their expectations to help prepare themselves for the worst.
And that’s good??? What a sad world it is when we have to assume the worse….
Want to see how you fare in Ms. Norem’s study?
Just remember, only you choose what you think and how you feel.
Sheila Callaham is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, and success coach. If you’d like to receive more content like this, including free and low-cost resources for making your life rock, click here to subscribe to her newsletter!