The Superstition of Pessimism

We humans are a superstitious lot. And there is one insidious form of superstition—pessimism—that is the hidden culprit behind many of our disappointments in life. It all starts with an inner attitude that says, “I’d better not believe in the good because it might not happen.” We need to listen for the hidden voice saying, in essence: “If I believe that something good may happen, I will be disappointed because I will chase it away with my believing in it. Maybe it’s a safer bet to believe that nothing good will happen to me—that I can’t change and have a better life.”

This is the game we play with ourselves. It has a deliberate but destructive playfulness to it that is based purely on superstition. At some point, this playful game starts to go sideways and then the fun gets lost in its tragically painful effects. It turns out that denying the positive and believing in the worst—as though to appease the gods—is downright destructive. Because there is power in our thoughts, and there’s no playing with that power without getting hurt.

There’s no limit to the many things we might be applying this to in life. Perhaps it’s regarding the healing of an illness. Or when we’re alone and feeling unloved, we might tell others and ourselves—safely, we think—that we’ll always be alone. Maybe we’re lacking funds or the satisfaction of a fulfilling profession, so we comfort ourselves by saying “I’m going to believe it has to be this way, so then maybe it can come to me out of the blue.”

It’s like we’re hoping for some perfect parent to magically materialize and whisk away our doubts.

It’s like we’re hoping for some perfect parent to magically materialize and whisk away our doubts saying “Oh no, dear child, it’s not that bad. See, everything is going to be wonderful.” Exclamation point.

Unbeknownst to us, we are directing our soul with a belief that will create circumstances that prove it. But then we “forget” that we were playing a game, all in a spirit of superstition—or maybe like a spirit of emotional manipulation. After a while, we get so far down the rabbit hole, we begin to believe that the negative manifestation is reality. So what started as a fun little superstitious safety valve has turned into a belief on another level of our awareness. This is what now creates reality and keeps us stuck in a lousy place. Curiouser and curiouser.

All such mental trickery is quite dangerous. We are abusing the power of the word, the power of our own thinking, and the power of teaching ourselves untruths. Whenever we come across this kind of self-deception, we have to stop, drop and roll before we get burned any further. We can objectively observe where and how we have done this to ourselves, and connect with our intention behind these maneuvers.

Next, hold up a stop-sign-to-self and say, “I want to stop fooling myself this way. Life can’t be cheated or tricked. I choose honesty from here on out. I must mean what I say to myself on the deepest levels of myself. It has to jive with the truth of life.” We need to counter our habit of tricking ourselves, wherever it exists in us, by finding new pathways for our minds to follow.

It requires us to marshal a fair bit of courage—the courage to believe in the good.

This next step is the real nut. On the surface it may sound simple but it may also require us to marshal a fair bit of courage—the courage to believe in the good. This is what is called an “abyss of illusion.” Without any assurances that things are all going to turn out fine, we’re going to have to venture into unknown territory where we believe in the positive. We’ll need to assert that we have faith that the universe is totally benign—good and loving and safe. We’ll need to express the truth that there are infinite possibilities for what can happen. Gleeps.

We can pick our path: the road of Eeyore-style gloom, denial and defeatism, or the road of faith in the innate nature of life to unfold with beautiful possibilities. The anchor holding us back from manifesting awesome possibilities lies in our own soul. There’s nothing we can’t realize if we truly give ourselves to it; there’s nothing we can’t experience. We have the power to remove the anchor. Then involuntary processes will carry us to new shores of fulfillment riding on the wave of limitless creative possibilities. The only question is: do we have the courage to bridge the gap by way of a faith that must wait for our inner spirit to reset the sails?

The nice thing about our old superstitions is that we just speak negative beliefs and they come true. No waiting. For certain, the questionable results we’re so keen on will happen immediately. It’s tempting to lean on that instead of investing in a very uncertain waiting period.

For the journey to having faith in a positive unfoldment takes a bit of time to ripen. This is so because our mental processes need to do a one-eighty, readjusting themselves so they can take root in the new land of abundance. We need the patience of a gardener who understands that a gestation period is required. With experience, the gardener learns that after sowing seeds, one must wait for the plants to sprout. It would be hard to trust this process until we’ve seen it in action.

So it is with each of us. That first step of faith can be a doozy.

The road to waking up is not a direct shot. It’s two steps forward and one step back; it curves from side to side. We don’t find happiness and pleasure once and sustain it for all time. We find it, lose it, and then have to find it again. When we lose it, we often shrink back. This isn’t just an old habit. It’s the result of our commitment to the make-believe safety net of this superstition of pessimism, countered with an escape into wishful daydreaming.

Becoming aware of this is immeasurably important. We have to see this mechanism for the trick that it is. Then we have to give up this trick. We need to find the courage to believe in our own riches, and have faith in the best life can be.

Every tiny step of goodwill we take, every time we face the worst in us and restore our original beauty, we add to the great reservoir of creative forces. This is how we each do our part in helping the Christ force live and breathe. As we aid our own happiness, we contribute something powerful and valuable to the universe. Great good comes from our willingness to face ourselves and be in truth.


—Jill Loree

Adapted from #236 The Superstition of Pessimism as it appears in Pearls.