Pessimism. That voice inside your head that amplifies your doubt. Your fear of failure. Your sense that you’re not quite as good as the next man.
Or not quite the man you once were.
Pessimism is the spectre of self-doubt. An apparition of a lack of self confidence. Appearing and gaining strength through the growth of unhappiness.
It drains your ability to move forward, sapping your resistance and breaking down your capacity to bounce back from the setbacks that we all inevitably face in life.
Pessimism is also the enemy of willpower.
Feeling unable to conquer doubt. Telling yourself that you can no longer overcome what’s in front of you is the path of destruction that pessimism can wrought on willpower.
Over a period of time, pessimism can negate the ability of willpower to see you out of an unhappy situation.
What’s the point after all of trying if you can’t see a way to win the in first place?
Restoring your willpower and deploying it against pessimism is, however, the key to defeating it and regaining the sense of optimism in which happiness can thrive.
Recharging your willpower
Just like muscle memory, the mind retains the ability to recall memories of our triumphs.
The times when we felt like a winner. The fragments of the memories of our victories can be used throughout the course of life to top up the tank of willpower.
Practicing a routine of proactively reminding yourself when you’ve been at your best recharges your willpower battery.
Taking a small amount of time every day to do this recharges the voice that says ‘I can’.
A powerful reminder that you can overcome.
Using external stimuli to boost your willpower
Just like using the mind to recall yourself at your best, using the world around you to boost your willpower can complement the technique of mental reinforcement.
This can take many forms and the trick is to find the one that best motivates you. Here are some thought starters.
Listening to powerful music
Something that stirs your passions and heightens your emotional response. From Black Sabbath to Wagner, a connection to the music that makes you feel powerful is a tonic for boosting your willpower.
Exercise or raising your adrenaline levels
Pushing yourself physically is also another powerful technique. Not only does it often provide a mental escape, but the sense of achievement in testing your physical limits exercises our willpower, giving it strength and ever greater capacity.
Carrying out an activity that inspires you
It may be watching a film that gives you a sense of pride or inspiration. Immersing yourself in art or a cultural activity that really stimulates your senses. Or getting outside in a place of awe inspiring natural beauty.
Connection with the world around us can make us feel energised whilst recharging our willpower.
Regularly carrying out even just a few of these suggestions can regenerate your own emotional reserves and the willpower your need to overcome pessimism.
Using willpower to tame the voice inside
The battle of pessimism verses willpower plays out within our own minds.
In a state of pessimism we can often feel not in control of our own thoughts. Ruled by them rather than allowing ourselves to rule the thoughts.
Recognise that a pessimistic thought is just that. A thought.
By doing this we give ourselves the distance we need in our own mind to deal with it.
By isolating these thoughts we can then tackle them by activating the counter voice of willpower to combat the pessimism.
Often simply telling yourself that you will not be shaped by pessimistic thoughts is a powerful way to control them.
Make it a habit to tell yourself that you are the master of your own mind, the captain of your ship and you’ll not allow the voice of doubt to tell you that you can’t overcome.
Being on the front foot with deploying willpower
Pessimism often puts us in a state of lethargy.
Not feeling like it’s worth trying because it’s too hard. Giving up too quickly because it’s too big to tackle or we’re not strong enough to overcome.
Taking time to think about how you’re going to deploy willpower to defeat your doubts has the effect of putting you on the front foot of acting and not reacting to pessimism.
Plan for how you’re going to overcome the thing that’s causing you unhappiness.
Devising a strategy in the mind is the tactical expression of willpower. It helps to rationalise what we’re pessimistic about which in itself can be a powerful tool at dissipating the impact of pessimism.
Some of the greatest achievements of man have been through the deployment of willpower. The ability to break through barriers that seem insurmountable. The extra reserve to go beyond the limits that we think we have.
By focusing on nourishing your willpower you’ll have a formidable ally in overcoming the voice that tells you that you cannot do what you set out to achieve.
Take the steps today and banish the ghost of pessimism.