Shushing Your Pessimistic Inner Voice
by Linda Sapadin, Ph.D., World of Psychology
May 11, 2018

Some folks are obviously pessimistic. Others seem to be anything but – until you get a sneak peek at their inner voice. If you are one of those closet pessimists, don’t you wish you could wipe out every negative thought you have? Rid your brain of its tidal wave of worries?

Sorry, probably won’t happen; I’m not a magician. But, I do have some tricks up my sleeve that will help you become a more upbeat person. So, here goes. Five great ideas to shush your pessimistic inner voice:

  1. Instead of asking “what if” questions (e.g., “What if I fail the test?”), then jumping to the worst-case scenario, use the smart part of your beautiful mind to answer the question you just posed. Yes, what will you do if you fail the test? Life doesn’t end right there. There will be another avenue to follow. And who knows where that will take you – if you don’t paralyze yourself with pessimism.
  2. Instead of fuming that “It’s not fair,” remind yourself that life isn’t fair. (You knew that, didn’t you?) So what are you going to do about it? If it’s a grave injustice, you may want to fight it. If it’s not, allow yourself to be bummed out for a while, then let it go. New challenges await, if you don’t let yourself get bogged down with yesterday’s disappointments.
  3. Instead of putting yourself in a powerless position by saying I “can’t”… (e.g., I can’t quit my job now”), shift your focus away from what you can’t do to what you can do. Change your helpless hypothesis (I have no choice, no power, no options, I’m screwed!) into a motivating muscle (what I can do is…..). You can research alternative career moves, speak to a head-hunter, transfer to another office. Yes, there’s always something positive you CAN do!
  4. Instead of obsessing on what went wrong, reflect on the positive (or neutral) happenings of the day. It’s tough for your brain to remain focused on nothing, since nothing is empty space. As with all empty space, something rushes in to fill it. So, instead of letting pessimistic thoughts overshadow your day, focus on something good, (even if it’s small) that happened today. Or, at least, something neutral. Instead of curbing your enthusiasm, curb your ruminations!
  5. Instead of being upset with change that’s forced on you, challenge yourself by doing what you’re uncomfortable doing. You’re expected to take on a responsibility or learn a skill that’s not of your choosing. You’re thinking, “I can’t do this; It’s too hard.” Rather than staying with your pessimistic thoughts, reframe. This might be an opportunity for you, a chance to learn something new, even if you’re uncomfortable doing it.


So, pessimists, I hope this has been helpful to you. Yes, these ideas might be tough to implement but keep in mind that an accumulation of small work-outs can create hefty muscles. So start the change process right now. If and when you lose your motivation, be sure to get back on track quickly. Here are a few upbeat affirmation, quotes, and music to keep you moving toward a more optimistic future.

1. Two of my favorite affirmations for pessimists:

  • “It’ll work out!”
  • “You can do it!”


2. Two of my favorite quotes for pessimists:

  • “To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” ~ Bertrand Russell
  • “The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.” ~ Robert Frost


3. Here is my all-time favorite motivational song for pessimists:

Three little birds by Bob Marley.
“Every little thing’s gonna be all right,” repetitively reverberating with the Marley beat is a perfect antidote for pessimistic worriers!