Realism Is Not Pessimism

29/10/2013 14:14 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

There is an old euphemism which states that there is no smoke without fire. The smoke I am referring to in this instance is the sought which usually encourages individuals to take a walk over to the "self help" section of a bookstore to avoid the fiery truth of their problem which is either to hard to face or is non definable due to a lack of self observation.

I am not against people seeking help when they are down but I do believe that the intense worship of "positive psychology" and other systems have clouded our most effective tools in which to undertake an effective self analysis. One tool in particular I am referring to is called Realism. Realism is a philosophy which attempts to depict things accurately, from either a visual, social or emotional perspective.

I am an advocate of injecting a healthy dose of this belief system into my own personal outlook towards training. The nature of the challenges I undertake is a marriage between a huge leap of optimistic faith coupled with a programme of realistic and dedicated training regimes. Some people would associate pessimism with realism. This type of thinking is damaging. Realists see things for what they are to the greatest extent possible, take this hypothetical scenario;

A pessimist would say (after failing their driving test) "I have just failed by driving test...I am a failure of life, there is no point in me attempting the test again" an optimist would say "I failed my driving test, but I will pass the next time I do it. It was just not my day today" and a realist would say "I failed my driving test because I failed to execute two maneuvers, the three point turn and reversing around a corner, I will practice these both next week and will book my test again when I become proficient at them".

The realist does not attempt to dismiss the blame for the failure of the test on a third party unless there is genuine evidence to support such a claim nor does the realist think that he/she will pass the driving test without a detailed assessment of what went wrong during the test.

Pessimists are found swimming in a sea of negativity. Optimistic people on the other hand are proactive in tackling their problems and will not allow themselves to be consumed by a wave of setbacks. Out of the two being an optimist is the preferred option because there is little to be gained from thinking negatively. However where both ideologies fail is in their personifications of reality.

A pessimist will take every action as a negative, an optimist a positive. The problem with the both of these is that events in life really do not come with a plus or minus sign attached to them. Granted looking at "bad" things with a positive outlook is admirable and an important step in personal growth but this can lead to behaviour which is brash, arrogant and at worst delusional from the true nature of the event which happened to you.

Where is the line drawn between being optimistic and being deluded?

Intense realism is something which is hard to acquire, it takes emotional discipline to split apart your own subjective interpretation of events from the reality of what actually happened but as with everything else, constant practice makes this activity easier and eventually you will become used to seeing things as they are as to what you think they are.

The fact is not much good happens in this world without first taking a risk, then once the first tentative steps into the unknown are taken you are going to have to work doggedly hard and smart to make the risk pay off. Even after all of this, things may not work out how you expected. It's just that simple!

If things fail there is always a logical reason to why. The sad thing is that the charlatans who spin pseudo scientific babble masked as facts are themselves closet realist thinkers, they see a lot of vulnerable people who are desperate for an easy escape from their problems and create a system that appeases their concerns. I shudder to think the damage some of these ideas have had on society.