Emotional Wellbeing

Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

The difference between optimists and pessimists




The difference between optimists and pessimists

Locus of control

Optimists feel in control whereas pessimists tend to see themselves more as victims – helpless and with little control. Circumstances and prior failures mean less to an optimist than they do to a pessimist. The locus of control for an optimist is internal (they believe they have power and choice regardless of the situation) whereas pessimists see circumstances as the main force in their lives (external locus of control).

Positive Expectancy

Optimists expect good things to happen. They understand that there will be failure, heart break, rejection and all those other nasty experiences in life but they somehow hang on to hope. They never lose faith that something good might be around the corner. The present moment is neutral and anything is possible in the future. Positive expectancy leaves an optimist anticipating (and looking out for – confirmation bias) positive events coming their way.

Pessimists worry only about problems appearing in the future and find it difficult to be neutral. They also tend to more judgmental than optimists.

Self belief

Optimists tend to have higher self belief than pessimists – partly because they have an internal locus of control. They believe they can handle whatever life throws at them whereas pessimists don’t see themselves as being able to engineer and design a life they want. They believe they are at the mercy of others and circumstance. Pessimists think “why?” and optimists thik “why not?”.

Optimists possess ‘mental buffers’

Optimists are adept at watching their internal dialogue. They choose their thoughts wisely and know that thoughts are NOT facts. Pessimists, on the other hand, give in to all their worries and ‘what if thinking’. They listen to their negative thoughts are if they were reality. Optimists know how to dismiss nonsense thoughts and choose thoughts that serve them well and that are helpful to them. Optimists see solutions and opportunities, pessimists see problems.

Optimists don’t automatically blame themselves when things don’t go well and are able to draw a line between themselves and their efforts. Eg: they rarely see themselves as failures, rather they will see that what they DID wasn’t a success.

Optimists tend to have happier lives ad probably achieve more than pessimists as they aren’t afraid to fail. Pessimists will avoid failure and probably never try in the first place.

Being a pessimistic is mostly unhelpful in life – sure it’s a good idea to risk manage but once that is done – get stuck in with life. Stop blaming others and/or circumstance and make a promise to yourself to have the best life possible.

Mandy X

Scroll to Top