Pessimist vs Optimist

I must admit am a pessimist. I worry about the worst case scenario happening. I am happy to say I am usually wrong, though. You would think that I would have sufficient evidence by now to be more optimistic about things, but that hasn’t happened yet.

I was really worried during  our recent trip to  my father in law’s funeral.   Husband comes from a blended family with two full siblings and their spouses, three step siblings and their spouses, and various married children and their spouses.  We all have traditionally got along pretty well, but for some reason I was worried about all Hell breaking loose when everyone was together en masse for the first time in 25 years.  My training  as a psychologist causes me to hypothesize about future behavior, and I focus on negative possibilities.

We have a Trump-loving NRA fanatic, two Bipolar Manic types (one of whom refuses to take medications),  some who drink too much, someone with a pain medication addiction, a hoity toity, self appointed manners expert, several evangelical conservative Christians, ELCA Lutherans, and several liberal Democrats.  What could go wrong when everyone is upset over a death?  Plenty, in my pessimistic mind!

Well, I was completely wrong. Everyone was pleasant, no one drank too much, and no one was manic. The NRA supporter was so angry about the scandals at the NRA headquarters he could hardly speak about it, and religion and politics and manners critique took a holiday. Phew!

When have you been wrong? What are you pessimistic or optimistic about?

19 thoughts on “Pessimist vs Optimist”

  1. I don’t know if it is pessimism or cautious preparedness on my part, but whatever it is has come between me and disaster several times, all because at some point I acted on a “but what if” hunch.

    I was totally unprepared for how my mother’s funeral went. I had no expectations of disaster, but was stunned by the pure utility of it. Still working through that one. On the plus side, I was really surprised that the s&h was such a steady hand through it all.

    I did not expect to enjoy my young adult child as much as I do.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’d love to hear more about you mom’s funeral, if you feel up to sharing it.

      Mig, I’m delighted that you’re reveling in the trajectory of the s&h into young adult. Parenting is such an awesome responsibility, and you only get one chance at doing it right with each child. It’s a learn as you go proposition. Any parent who can honestly look at their adult offspring and say that they’re pleased with the human being that their child turned out to be, deserves a lot of credit.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I don’t know how much credit I can really take. I was lucky enough to find several people who were willing to take an interest in him and pitch in from time to time, and a big shout out to a number of terrific teachers.

        I haven’t fully processed my mother’s funeral yet. This was the 3rd time that I went to the funeral of a woman who was significant to me and felt like a total stranger. These were women I spent considerable time with, and yet I had no part in their send-off, and could not recognize them from the proceedings.

        it’s so odd, because i have been to a number of funerals, including some for people i had never met, that were really great (if you can say that about a funeral).

        I find emotional surprises really unsettling, as opposed to say, an emergency, where you have to leap into action and deal with whatever it is.

        Liked by 5 people

  2. Rise and Expect the Worst,(or Best) Baboons,

    In my younger life I was an optimist about most things, having learned that if I could be away from my mother, everything would go well for me. It usually did if I was on my own, so I operated on that basis for a long time and generally things turned out well. I learned my lesson after getting married because my mother and uncle told me it was time, and they did not know “what would happen to me” if I let much more time pass. I was 20 years old. I did not want to get married, but what did I know? Oh my. What a lesson. I was wrong to get married on that basis and of course that did not work. It solidified my position believing that I should never listen to my mother about anything. But I could not maintain my optimism about life based on that only factor.

    I then modified my position, to research what I wanted to do or not do, and follow my own counsel. In this way I can be optimistic or pessimistic based on real facts, not just based on how I think the world should work. I started to play a little game with myself about how I think things will work out–optimistic vs. pessimistic–do my research then place my internal, no money bet ( for years I researched this by buying pretend stocks, then following them, based on my research. I found I was good at it!) I developed a cautious approach on being optimistic or pessimistic–I will take my feelings into account, but I will check the facts.

    Recently my method played out for me. Three years ago as I struggled to sell my business to a difficult buyer/co-worker, I did not think it would work out very well given her personality traits–pessimistic. But she had poisoned the well. She convinced the staff there that she was the only buyer who could do this and they favored her against my better judgement. I just insisted she get a partner to buy with her because I thought that would modify her bad decisions. Either way she had to pay me. Then I arranged to work elsewhere and maintained a detached distance.

    Friday I had to go pick up a package that was delivered there by mistake. I found the therapists packing up their offices to leave “to get away from the chaos.” She is terrible at running the business and she has lost all their confidence. All but two therapists that were there when I ran it have left. Five great therapists are out the door. The two who have stayed are very part time, not bringing in much business. My pessimism was well-placed. They paid me a lot of money for something they do not know how to operate.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I remember Canadian grad school friends asking me, in 1980, did I think Ronald Reagan would get elected. They were panicky. I said I couldn’t imagine him getting elected. My Minnesota upbringing and my abhorance of the man clouded my predictive powers and led me to irrational optimism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never in my wildest dreams envision that DT could be elected president of the US. Never! Now that he has, I’m struggling to have enough optimism that he’ll be thrown out at the next election. I have lost a lot of confidence in the American public.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It was shocking, to say the least. I keep trying to remind myself that Jesse Ventura was similar and broke some political deadlock, in his own crazy way. The same may happen with #45, should the rest of us live through his mess. What scares me is that in his world, other people pay for his consequences, and he is incapable of feeling that or understanding it.


        1. You see more good in Ventura’s legacy than I, Jacque. Let’s hope some good can come of the horror that is DT. What JV and DT have in common is that both are raging narcissists who never should have been allowed to run for office.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Ventura was at least a little more aware of his own limits, and handed over a lot of decision-making to people who were better informed than he was. Minnesota was actually fairly well governed during his term.

          After 45 was elected president, I heard an interview on public radio with Ventura’s chief of staff, Steven Bossacker, in which the interviewer was drawing comparisons, and Bossacker was having none of it. At one point he snapped, “Jesse Ventura is colorful. He’s not corrupt.

          Liked by 5 people

        3. A private conviction I’ve long held is that the best politicians are those who are calmly confident, “comfortable in their own skin.” Such people can become great presidents. They don’t throw hissy fits when people criticize or oppose them. Two men come to mind: Abraham Lincoln and FDR. Both were remarkable for being able to laugh at themselves. And the opposite? Richard Nixon was famously insecure. Andrew Jackson hated being dissed so much that he fought over a hundred duels!


        4. I don’t see much good in his “reign of terror” at all. I just think that was the best thing to come out of the Minnemess.


  4. I had this thing worked out when I was young. I used to be clean-shaven (because my mother convinced me her mother would die–not figuratively but literally–if she saw me in a beard.

    An optimist is the man who showers before shaving, for the hot water will soften his beard and he won’t cut himself. The pessimist shaves before showering so the running water will wash off the blood from when he cut himself shaving.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My best friend from high school used to say that I was an optimist who was disappointed when things didn’t turn out, while she was a pessimist who got to be pleasantly surprised when things actually went well.

    I’m not as much of an optimist as I used to be, especially about the general state of the world. We’re not the only country going through this craziness; it seems to be a fever that’s catching. The only hope I have is that it’s a pendulum swing that has finally gone as far as it can go in one direction, and now has to turn around. But it’s slow as that happens, and very painful to watch. I’m afraid I won’t be around long enough to see a recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

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