The Propaganda Of Pessimism


What is the propaganda of pessimism? Or put more bluntly, how do you allow the subversive propaganda of pessimism to play around with your mind and your life? This distinct issue has far-reaching implications, especially for Empathizer-type (E-types) communicators whom I coach daily at New Insights Communication. E-types are prone to pessimism. E-types major in pessimism. E-types dig big holes and throw themselves in head-first when their moods take a nose dive. In contrast, Instigator communicators (I-types), who steel their minds to wield good works, are prone to excessive optimism. Too much of a good thing, even optimism, is not desirable! Simply put, pessimism and optimism are at the opposite ends of an energy-attitude spectrum or teeter-totter. Realism, the capacity to accept what you can’t change and motivate yourself to change what you can, is the balance of life energy for which many of us strive.


Did you graduate from Pessimism University, or PU? A young E-type communications client of mine told me a funny story of a Saturday Night Live skit that had to do with positive self-talk or using affirmations to feel more positive. The character would hold up a mirror to his face, and say, “I’m good enough! And gosh darn it…people like me!” The implied message is that the positive thinker is working too hard to feel good about himself. And why try anyhow? The character sounds like the comedian Ron White who says, “You can’t fix stupid!” But is pessimism energy what you allow so you can continue to feel bad about what you can change? Let’s find out.


Jack is a 28-year-old single business guy. He is an E-type communicator and an introvert, so he is an Intuiter leader in the Talk to Me© effective communication system. Jack has come to me to learn steps to improve his confidence level. In order to accomplish that, we have to address his penchant for pessimism. Jack describes it as, “An angel on my right shoulder arguing with the little devil sitting on my left shoulder.” Great imagery, eh? Here’s the debate: Why try to be an optimist?

1. Why should I have to talk positively to myself?

Answer: You don’t have to talk positively to yourself. So why do it? Because that’s what all positive people do to manage their moods every day. There is a price tag of hard mental work involved, however. You don’t see this happening, so you may not be aware of the mental conversations these people are experiencing all day. Positive people correct their negative thoughts throughout their waking hours. For example, I correct my thinking a couple thousand times per day.

2. Why can’t I just know that I’m a confident person? Why must I work at it?

Answer: Why not put energy into disrupting your negative thinking? “No one is a naturally confident person,” you think. What if I could convince you that’s extremism (pessimism talking) that makes you mentally lazy and susceptible to give-up-itis? Looks can be deceiving; for example, when optimists work hard, they look like they’re hardly working. Yes, there is the factor of sporadic good luck. But you also make good luck happen for you by working hard.

3. I don’t want to have to look in the mirror like a SNL skit, and say: “I’m good enough, and gosh darn it…people like me!”

Answer: That person at whom you’re laughing is trying to be more positive…though not very successfully…and do something that might work to boost positive feelings. You think people look at you with judgmental eyes. Not comfortable! Wouldn’t you prefer to feel unconditionally confident, genuinely liking yourself as you improve your communication skills a little every day? What would it take for you to “see” the eyes of others plastered on you because of all the good things you do? Example: You’re being looked at because you’re special…you’re a somebody, someone who is effective, ethical, working hard to get things done before deadline.

4. I still feel like a big old dark cloud is over my head.

Answer: You have to be a strong person if you are a graduate of Pessimism University. It’s far easier to be an optimist. You can’t think the worst and get the best out of life, nor can you pull miracles from your hat.

5. I feel like I’m in a black hole and there’s nowhere to go.

Answer: The dark energy of pessimism wants you to be alone. Your mind is easier to manipulate that way. Pessimism wants you to be skeptical of positive people. When you look a gift horse in the mouth and pull out all its teeth, your pessimism is jailing you. It wants to separate you from the positive flock or fold, making it easier to shoot you down. Pessimism is like a wolf on the hunt. You’re smarter than to fall for something like that, aren’t you?

6. I see pockets of light but I don’t go there.

Answer: Kids love life and have fun, until trauma strikes — but kids do care what people think of them. Many of us transform when we turn 13 or so…we have “problems”…and the kid in us ceases to exist. Empathizers take these things personally, so they start thinking: the Self is Pessimist. The Self of most Empathizers is normally optimistic. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s the era of the E-type leader! You have become super-strong so you can deal with all this stinking, pessimism thinking. You might want to consider letting the kid in you take over every once in a while…love life again and have fun!

7. “No, I don’t want to do that!” or “I can’t make up my mind!” is my block.

Answer: Pessimism wants you to doubt…doubt yourself and doubt your decisions…doubt that good guys and gals finish first (which we do.) Do you feel like you’ve dug a deep hole for yourself? You can stop yourself before you jump in! You are not controlled by alien forces. The little devil on your shoulder didn’t make you do it. Play the “angel’s advocate” for a change! You are not your pessimism…you are not consumed by pessimism. It’s nothing personal, but you have no business hanging out so much with Pessimism, who is such a negative companion.

8. I’m so frustrated…how long will the good things of which you speak last?

Answer: Pessimism doesn’t want you to enjoy tiny successes. Tiny successes grow into small successes that quickly expand into large successes. Stop to smell the roses? Hey, start to smell the sweet victory of your tiny successes! Do you count your beatings instead of your blessings? Why? Pessimists count their beatings; optimists count their blessings. You are an optimist by spirit and by nature! You are not the pessimism energy of doom-and-gloom. You are engaging in pessimism, however, and if you are engrossed in pessimism for 99% of the day, you’ll get confused and believe that you’re a pessimist who can’t change.

9. You’re just being nice to me and telling me what I want to hear.

Answer: Pessimism told you to say that, didn’t it? Pessimism wants you to pull the curtains, grab a bottle of wine or six pack, lock the door to your home or apartment, and get so intoxicated that you can’t think straight. Then pessimism will tell you that only IT can be trusted. The lie is so vast and so extreme that your mind will be prone to believe it. IT is your drinking pal…you can bet your next pile of vomit on it. You can be contented with yourself, if you allow yourself to genuinely enjoy one small slice of happiness now.

10. I feel noticeably different from so many people.

Answer: Not to worry. I-types are ME-first types, and for good reason. I want you to be more hard-headed, like an Instigator communicator. How you think of yourself defines who you are and how you feel. You are different from I-types. You want to be aware of your emotions while using them to your advantage. You want to be a realist…and an optimist…and occasionally a pessimist. You can fake it to make it under some circumstances, but you want to be the real deal in business, too.


You think pessimism is being real, not fake or phony like all those goody-two-shoe optimists who paint a black day sunshine yellow with their paintbrushes? Yo! Wake up! Pessimism is the ultimate fakery! Pessimism is a bold-faced liar. Pessimism will have you believe anything and everything else is fakery, drudgery, or foolery, impossible tasks for a person such as yourself. Pessimism, I repeat, is a bold-faced liar. The Talk to Me© system will teach you how to be responsive instead of reactive…how to work with your emotions optimistically…how to plant trees instead of using the shovel to dig a big hole in which to jump. You will stop beating yourself senseless with the shovel and wondering why your motivation is depressed. Geez, I wonder why!


Dennis E. O’Grady has a B.S. degree (Bull _hit degree) from Pessimism University, also known as PU, where he received a 4.5 (out of 4) G.P.A. in his Bad Attitudes studies. Dennis went on to receive his E.S. degree (Elephant _hit degree) from PU, in the Psychology of Digging Holes So Big You Can Fly Planes Into Them. After jumping into many holes of his own digging, as well as some dug by others, Dr. O’Grady received his B.O.N.K.A (Being Optimistic Never Killed Anybody) degree from the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology. Ralph Real (also an alumnus of P.U.), in his Pessimism Street Journal review of Dr. O’Grady’s third book, Talk to Me: Communication Moves To Get Along With Anyone, gave the book a thumbs and toes down, while sticking his nose up in the air. Real went on to say: It’s a stupid book. Just another ‘fake it until you make it’ treatise on why it’s better to feel bad than good. The author seeks to line his pockets at the expense of big newspapers like this one. This is just another example of why you can’t fix stupid. So if you’re smart…you’ll think like me…Ralph Real. O’Grady had only one thing to say in rebuttal: Being Optimistic Never Killed Anybody!

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