Why is it so hard to imagine the best possible outcome instead of the worst? Why do we insist that behind every good turn of events, a bad one is waiting to jump out at us? Why are we so afraid of clowns?
The last question is obvious because, well, clowns. The other two are a little more complicated. I believe that our less-than-optimistic outlook is the result of our experiences in disappointment. Seeing a child's look of betrayal because you bought the wrong toy is a sad sight. (I didn't want the green doll. I wanted the pink one. Yes, it still bothers me. I don't know why.) Finding out for the first time that things can go wrong or not as expected makes us put our guard up. When we have a series of setbacks, it makes it even harder to believe that anything good will ever happen again.
We've all been told, "that's life: deal with it." By the way, I think being so flippant when someone is upset about a bad experience doesn't help. On top of already feeling sad, you're made to believe you're weak as well. Life does throw us curveballs, and looking back, we can see how our perceptions evolved and we learned important lessons. Finding the silver lining in some situations can be challenging.
How can we flip the switch and find a more positive outlook? Notice I said "more" and not absolute. I try to look at the sunny side of life, make lemonade out of lemons, and avoid scary clowns, but sometimes we need to embrace the possibility of failure. A friend of mine told me that he goes into stressful situations believing the worst will happen. He assumes the crowd he's speaking to will hate him, or the court case he's presenting will find him on the losing side. He said thinking this way motivates him to be as prepared as possible. He makes sure he knows his materials inside and out and can successfully deliver his knowledge to his audience. His supposed defeat is countered by having contingency plans in place. He enjoys more wins than losses in his field of expertise.
For me, visualization works. When I prepare for a presentation or a networking event, I picture it going well. I "see" the audience enjoying my talk or meeting interesting people to connect with. I set up my day the night before. I write down what I want to accomplish and decide that all will go as planned. For some reason, even when things don't work out the way I want, I still end up feeling good about my day.
When I need feedback on a new program I'm developing; I've learned to be open to constructive criticism. We can't direct ourselves. Improving our work with the help of others should be a positive experience. It's not a sign of deficiency or lack of talent. Creating your project to be the best you can make it and collaborating with others is fun. (It's a wonderful way to reduce the risk of failure, and this way, when it doesn't work out, you have others to blame for it.)
We have a choice in predicting the outcome of our future endeavors. Yes, we can picture it all crashing and burning and wonder why we even tried, or we can choose to see our goals and ideas come to fruition. When you find that your beliefs are heading toward the dark side, take a minute and ask yourself, "why." What can you do to be better prepared, or is there an action step you need to take? Before you go down the rabbit hole, call someone who can help you see the situation in a better light. Sometimes we need to hear some encouraging words or voice our concerns out loud to an understanding friend.
We do have power over our thoughts. You're welcome to believe all clowns are evil, or you can trust that all they want to do is make you smile. (I'm undecided on this one.)