Friday, February 20, 2009

Yin or Yang?

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

Winston Churchill

I read a very interesting article in O today that made me go hmmmm. This doesn't often happen but I saw myself in this article and it was my aha moment, if I am going to quote Oprah. It was an article on being a defensive pessimist and I knew I had found a name for my condition.

I have often said I am the half glass empty girl (defensive pessimist) and that my husband is the half glass full guy (strategic optimist). Allow me to expound on this further with an example. Three years ago when my husband wanted to interview with a brand new company in town, I was worried. I didn't want him to leave the job he had been at for 5 years because he was making good money and was on his way up. This new company had thousands of people who were lining up to apply so I thought, why bother? I worried about our finances, stability, competition, etc... My husband on the other hand walked through all the interviews full of confidence actually planning on how great this was going to be for us. He didn't worry that thousands of other people were going through the same process because he was not only going to get an offer but he was going to move up the corporate ladder with his abilities.

This is the perfect example of how we are so opposite and why our relationship works for us. A defensive pessimist plans for the worst out of fear. This is how I manage my anxiety and worry, to avoid setting myself up for disappointment. I prepare for situations by setting low expectations for myself because I would rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed. The strategic optimist not only thinks everything will end on a positive note but makes plans based on this outcome. Come to find out, this is actually a healthy thing. WOW. It may be surprising to some that this could work but we not only appreciate these difference in one another but we feel it balances us out.

After I shared this article with my husband we were able to go back and pinpoint many instances when this was true and it blew my mind. I think this was a good learning opportunity for me. I will always be the one who points out that while a cloud has a silver lining it is still a cloud and may or may not rain on you. I will always have contingency plans in place for every catastrophic event (aliens invading) because that is just who I am, it comes with being anal. Can I manage to be more like my husband and be more optimistic? I try to be for him even when I don't always believe it myself but hope springs eternal. See? Now that's optimism...


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