Optimists: Are they born or bred?
Are optimists born or bred? An optimistic point of view does not mean that an individual has had a trouble-free life. Optimists are not born, they are bred. However, optimism almost always starts early. It is cultivated from childhood and is usually the result of having positive relationships with optimistic parents. Being an optimistic parent means letting your children make use of the opportunities to recover from failure and helping them recognize the real value of success. Parents should not tell their children that they are amazing at everything they do. This kind of reinforcement technique only causes your child’s confidence to break down when he/she fails.
At this point, if you are concerned with the fact that you were never optimistic as a child, don’t worry. Optimism can still be cultivated later in life. Optimism is like an activity; just like riding a bike; it’s never too late to learn! There are many methods to learn optimism. But the one that works best is self-talk or internal dialogue.
Internal Dialogue: Negative Self Talk
Are you one of those people who walk around with a constant negative counterpart in your head; always telling you that you are not good enough? The first step you need to take is to kill that voice in your head. Negative self-talk only leads to self-doubt and irrational thinking; some of the common forms being:
- Filtering- You filter out all the positive aspects of an event and tend to focus only on the negative ones. You obsess over minor slip-ups instead of concentrating on the positive outcomes, thereby convincing yourself that you will never be deserving enough.
- Personalizing- When something bad happens, do you blame yourself for it? Pessimists do that even though the actual cause could be completely unrelated to them. Optimists on the other hand think rationally.
- Catastrophe-zing- Pessimists tend to automatically jump to the worst-case scenario. Optimists do not assume, they confirm and take action if required.
- Polarizing- Optimists never see extremes. It is never good or bad, or black or white for them. They always stick to middle range and don’t move to either end of the spectrum unless the need arises.
The only way to put an end to the negative self-talk is to catch yourself in the act. Every time, a negative thought pops into your mind, say “STOP”. Write down the negative thought and go over your entries at the end of the day. You will be surprised to see how much you kill your self-confidence on a daily basis. Now write down positive thoughts against every negative thought listed in your journal. Run through these positive thoughts several times during the day. Soon, you will begin to notice that your negative thinking patterns are taking a positive turn. However, keep in mind that though change will take some time, you will eventually get to a more positive place in your life. And the newly achieved positive outlook will help you see the silver lining on a rainy day!