Can yoga heal pessimism?
With so many hardships in the world, it’s understandable that many people are becoming more pessimistic. The past few years have been particularly difficult for humanity, and it’s easy to slip into a mindset of despair. However, pessimism is harmful to mental health and rarely helps make a situation better.
Pessimism is defined as the tendency to see the negative in things. For example, pessimists focus on how a situation or plan can go wrong instead of considering what may go right. They expect that things will never work out for them, so they rarely have any hope, motivation, or healthy self-worth. Pessimists can easily allow their lives to crumble from negative thinking and maybe too negative to make healthy changes in their life.
Without mindfulness, pessimism can take over your life and destroy your outlook and mental health. This article will help you figure out if you’re a pessimist, identify how you started thinking like this, and show you how yoga can help you to develop a more optimistic mindset.
It’s easy to slip into pessimism without realizing it. After all, questioning the status quo or being frustrated or sad are very normal actions to take and emotions to feel. However, what starts as justified complaints and criticisms can quickly turn into a misguided feeling of helplessness. This feeling can alter your mind into constant negative thinking, which leads to a pessimistic outlook.
How to figure out Pessimism
So how do you figure out if you are a pessimist? With mindfulness and awareness, look at your behavior to see if you exhibit any of the following:
- You identify as a “realist”: Pessimists often like to disguise their thoughts as “realism.” But have you ever noticed that “realism” is often solely based on negativity? Few people have realistic thoughts that are optimistic in any way.
- You are distrusting: Maybe you’ve been hurt by others or have been disappointed often in life. Because of this, you may struggle to trust people to do the right thing or trust that situations will work in your favor.
- You always have a contingency plan: You never expect your hopes, dreams, or plans to work out, so you create contingency plans for when things inevitably fall apart.
- You engage in negative self-talk: Even the most optimistic people struggle with negative self-talk from time to time. However, if you are a pessimist, you are drowning in negativity and low self-worth. You hardly have a positive thing to say about yourself and don’t believe you deserve good or can accomplish anything.
- You are annoyed by others’ optimism: Since pessimists don’t believe that a situation can work out or that positive things will happen to them, they view optimists as annoying or childish. They impatiently wait for optimists to “grow up” or “get with reality.”
- You are surprised when things go right: Since you rarely expect anything to go well, you are genuinely shocked when something works in your favor.
- You always focus on what could go wrong: This is the most common way to identify pessimistic thinking. If you focus on only what can go wrong and never consider what may go right, then you are a classic pessimist.
People are not born either optimists or pessimists. We could learn these mindsets, typically through our peers and loved ones or through impactful experiences. Some of the most common ways that people slip into pessimism include:
- Childhood: If your parents were pessimists, then you probably learned to be negative from them. Parents and caregivers have a huge influence on our perspective in life, so if you live in a negative household, it is obvious to see negativity in adulthood.
- Started with realism: As mentioned before, people often slip into pessimism from their realism phase. In an attempt to not be blindly optimistic or ignorant, people often try to be as objective and realistic as a way to cope with the hardships of life. However, realism often turns into negativity which creates a pessimistic mindset.
- Trauma or major disappointment: Traumatic events have a way of shattering our spirit. It takes great work and effort to be loving and optimistic after living with trauma. These events often shake our hope for the world and future and can even disrupt our connection with humanity. Such a negative and depressing outlook can easily turn someone into a pessimist.
Pessimistic mindsets are learned and not wired permanently into our genetics. That means with effort and mindfulness, you can develop a more positive, optimistic mindset. Many tools can assist you with this journey, including the wonderful practice of yoga.
You probably already know how yoga can improve your mental health. Those who practice yoga are often calmer, more peaceful, and optimistic. Since yoga inspires peace, joy, and positivity, it is the perfect tool to heal pessimism.
There are many reasons why yoga helps heal pessimism, including the following:
- Yoga strengthens and heals the body: Yoga is not just good for your mind; it also keeps your body in shape. A healthy and energized body leads to a happier and more energized life. With your body in great shape and your spirit soaring, it is hard to remain pessimistic.
- Yoga encourages mindfulness: The core philosophy of yoga revolves are mindfulness. Personal growth requires observing your thoughts and beliefs and questioning them. Through yoga, you can peacefully look at your pessimistic thoughts and see how they negatively affect your life.
- Yoga helps you improve your self-esteem: The practice of yoga forces you to confront your beliefs about yourself. It encourages y to observe your thoughts and the way you speak to yourself, making it clear just how much your beliefs sabotage your self-esteem and worth. Those with low self-esteem are more likely to be pessimistic than those with high self-esteem, so when low self-esteem heals, so does your pessimistic attitude.
- Yoga eases symptoms of mental illness: Studies have shown that yoga assists with easing symptoms of various mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. These conditions usually involve consistent negative self-talk and pessimism. Yoga encourages those who live with these illnesses to relax and work through their emotions, leading to happier and more optimistic mindsets.
Pessimism is a mindset that rarely serves our well-being. When unchecked with mindfulness, pessimism can sabotage our hopes and dreams and destroy our confidence and mental health. Yoga encourages a healthy lifestyle, mindfulness, and inner peace, contributing to a healthier, more optimistic mindset.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.