How Positive People Self-Protect Against Vulnerability

Are you an optimist? Optimism is a human trait that makes us see the glass half full, instead of half empty. While this sounds good in theory, and it can be a positive trait, if you are an optimist, you may look at life in a way that alters your perspective of negative experiences. For instance, you may feel that bad things won’t happen to you, and if they do, you still remain positive and see that negative event through rose-colored glasses.

The dangers of optimism

Today, neuroscience tells us that some of us are hard-wired for optimism, and that it can have dangerous outcomes. For example, if like Voltaire’s Candide, “you always believe in the best of all possible worlds,” you may be unrealistic in your assessment of a current dangerous situation or of trouble ahead. As a result, you may make poor choices and decisions in areas including relationships, health, welfare, and finance. Another problem with optimism, and we see this in teenagers in particular, is the belief that one is omnipotent, or that trouble will always happen to someone else. This can make you particularly vulnerable and unable to self-protect.

Further, if you have never been behind the closet door, you won’t look there. Thus, as an honest optimist, you can be easily scammed or cheated. As a result, neuroscience tells us that optimism is actually an outcome of the brain’s inability to code mistakes when evaluating negative events. Therefore, you can be unrealistic in your evaluation of pessimistic input. This kind of dismissal of danger can make you highly susceptible and vulnerable.

What you can do if you are an optimist

A good feedback system is the best inoculation against unrealistic and inflated optimism. Utilize not only your own feedback system, but test your information against that of those you trust. Also, slow down your decision-making and actions; take time to look at all possibilities and research information relevant to your situation. The stop, look, and listen system is a great approach for an optimist. Take time to do your homework, gather as much information as possible, use a good feedback system – yours and others – before moving onto a course of action. Whether it’s finance, health, or relationships, it serves the optimist to always get a second opinion.