Author: Karen Copeland
pessimism: n. tendency to take worst view or expect worst outcome; belief that the actual world is the worst possible, or that all things tend to be evil (Source: Pocket Oxford Dictionary of Current English, 1984)
Ok you guys, I have a confession to make. While you might never think so from reading my blog, a pessimist is who I am deep inside. It is very easy for me to imagine the worst possible outcome, to latch onto this and ruminate. To feel like there is little hope in making a difference. It is an ugly feeling; dark, gloomy…lonely. When I get stuck in these moments, it is hard for me to see anything else.
The good news?
I know this about myself, and knowing this has allowed me to do something about it.
I’m not exactly sure when I started to truly understand the extent of my pessimism, but what I do know is how much it interfered with my perception of myself, my family and my community. It was incredibly difficult to see anything positive as being possible. I hated this, hated who I was.
I knew I needed to change, and that is what ultimately set me on a journey of determination, hard work and forgiveness.
The first thing I need to do was start believing in myself. I needed to start challenging my thoughts about myself whenever I started falling into the trap of worst case scenario. I needed to tell myself I was not weak; I am strong. I was not ill informed; I am smart. I am not worthless; I have value.
I needed to start listening more to those around me who gave me messages about my strengths, who took the time to teach me by not running away from my vulnerability, instead embracing and encouraging it.
I started looking for the good things that were happening. Seeking these out, learning more and sharing what I learned. I wanted everyone to be able to see that things were not all bad, there were possibilities! And the best thing of all? I was starting to believe in those possibilities, and this fueled my motivation to change even more.
I began to discover things about myself that I had never realized before. I had never really been a curious person yet I learned that curiosity was an incredibly powerful tool; that simply asking questions (internally or out loud) could influence how I would feel about a situation or person. I made it my mission to become more curious and to reflect on what I had learned.
I became more courageous. I started engaging in conversations that I never would have dreamed of having before. I became more confident in presenting my thoughts and opinions. These were well received, which encouraged me to speak out more.
Why am I sharing this with you? Here’s why.
When I started recognizing my own strengths, it made it easier to start to see and understand the strengths and possibilities in the world around me. I discovered the world was not something to be feared, it was full of possibilities.
I have certainly embraced these possibilities over the past year, and I am so excited to share my learning journey on January 25th alongside Chris Wejr. In our presentation Start with Strengths: Creating Emotionally Healthy Communities, I will share more about how discovering my own strengths led me to accepting, embracing and celebrating the strengths of my child, my family, schools, systems and the broader community.
If you live in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, I invite you to join Chris and I in Abbotsford for this interactive event, supported by the Abbotsford Local Action Team of the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Collaborative. The session is open to youth, parents, educators and community members who are interested in making a difference for children, youth and families. Tickets are $10 and include dessert. We hope to see you there!