Optimists explain good things as being personal, general, and permanent, and explain away bad things as being impersonal, specific, and temporary.
And if you point out the contradiction in their explanations, they see no contradiction. To them, the bad stuff really isn’t about them, it’s just that one thing that one time.
Pessimists tend to believe that negative things that happen to them:
- Will have a long-lasting effect
- Will affect many situations
- Are caused by themselves
Also, when something positive happens the pessimist tends to explains this negatively by:
- Thinking this is just temporary success
- Won’t help him in other situations than this specific one
- Are caused by the situation more than by his own competence
Optimists explain situations exactly the other way around. They tend to think that negative events:
- Are just a temporary setback
- Only affect thìs situation
- Are externally caused (not their own fault)
Positive things are also explained positively by the optimistic thinker. He will think:
- That the success will last long
- That the success will positively affect other situations as well
- That the success was caused by his own doing
What’s the relevance of this? Pessimists, by their way of thinking, constantly tend to destroy their own hope and build self-blame en guilt. A pessimistic thinking style causes many problems: emotional problems, under-utilization of your potential, and health-problems. Thinking pessimistically is a dangerous habit.
It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: by thinking you have no way of influencing a bad situation, this becomes true. Optimists, on the other hand, build hope and maintain a positive self-image. They then tend to perform better at school and/or work, and are, on average, healthier and happier.