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Your Worry Free Pass from Pity Party to Practical Pessimism

Your Worry Free Pass from Pity Party to Practical Pessimism

If you made your way here, there are two options:

  1. You just read this blog post and thought “Man, that’s bullshit. I like worrying and will keep doing it. Watch me, Steph!
     
  2. This article was just published and it caught your attention and got you thinking, “Wait what?! I thought worrying was pointless!”

Either way, welcome. I’m glad you made it here. Before you read any further I want to admit something: I tricked you. {GASP}. This blog post isn’t really about worrying. Sorry not sorry. Feel free to curse at me in foreign languages and angrily shake your fist in front of the screen. However, it is for good reason: there’s information in this post, no matter who or where you are along on this roller-coaster-journey-like-thing called life, you will benefit from.

I will outline two tools for you. This first is an “appeasing-your-Gremlin-and-victim-mode” technique, more than anything.

The second one I learned from Tim Ferris (who drew upon it from Stoic philosophies). It can serve the same purpose as tool #1, plus it takes it a step further, by helping you strategize. 

Here they are, for your reading and then (of course) applying pleasure. 

Tool #1: Have a Pity Party.

Yup, you read that right. I’m giving you permission to give yourself permission (because you really don’t need my permission, only your own) to have the biggest pity party. Ever. Give yourself a time limit (5,10, hell maybe even 30 minutes if you’re having a really hard time). Set a timer. And go! Play the victim! Curse the gods! Recite all the lines you wish you could say out loud, “Why me?!”, “This is so unfair!”, “I don’t deserve this! Why is life so hard?!”, “What if I fail and everyone judges me and I explode into an oblivion of nothingness!”, “Wahhhh!”

Use your pity party time to get all of the what ifs, ands, and buts out of you. Have a heyday. Put on the most saddening music possible. Let yourself go without control. Feel it and say it all. Out loud- homie.  Speak those words. No, you’re not crazy for talking to yourself out loud, I do it all the time. Although I do get weird looks at Target when I’m talking myself out of an unnecessary purchase that definitely will make my life exponentially better because “this is what I need to make me happy!!!! This shiny pillow with cool words! Gimmieeeee!!!!” “No! Bad Steph, put it back.”

Ok, back to the pity party, sorry.

Here are three important rules for having the best pity party ever:

  1. Set a time limit. Nothing good will come from it going on and on and on and on (just like the sermons at mass when I was growing up, “Oh my gosh we get it, cut to the chase already!” We actually have a saying in Italian that says, “It took long enough for the pope to die!” It refers to something taking a reallllllly long time- too long).
     
  2. Keep it free of positive thoughts and solutions. Nada. During those 10 minutes you can only be a victim. Bet you this will be harder than you think!
     
  3. Once the time is up, hug yourself, breathe deeply, and do something. Take action on whatever is making you so anxious and worried. Talk to someone, go on a walk, cook a deliciously nourishing meal, whatevs. The point is: execute.

Tool #2: Practical Pessimism, learned from Tim Ferris who learned it from the Stoics

Ahhh this is where the juice is at, my friends. Practical pessimism involves imagining your world-imploding best worst-case scenario ever. If you did what you’re feeling fearful of, what could go wrong? Name it all. Go down to the tiny-tiniest detail. After you’ve come up with the worst outcome possible, reverse engineer it.

Reverse engineering is solving a problem by starting with the issue and then working backwards. So, if your worst-case scenario happened, what could you do to make things better? As you did with the first part of the exercise, you’ll also need to go into extreme detail with this. Come up with multiple plans of how you can recover if your worst-case scenario were to happen.

Here are 3 important rules for using practical pessimism to your advantage:

  1. Do it all in one setting. Do not imagine your worst-case scenario and not come up with a solution. That won’t help you, silly goose.
     
  2. Go all in. Be realistic in how bad things could get. Saying you’re going to die because it’s just so hard is not valid. Look at objective facts.
     
  3. Get shit done. “I’ll manifest greatness!” is not a good plan to get a roof over your head. Plan. Strategize. Let your inner mad scientist loose! Take motherfucking action. Every single day.

Friends, there you have it. Now you see, I had good reasons to trick you into reading this. Next time you’re about to worry your way into oblivion, stop. Breathe. And use one or both of these tools. The choice is yours.


If you like these tools, you should check out our Catalyst Coaching Intensive — there are many more tools to help you effectively navigate your life.

Coach Stephanie Zoccatelli is a master at helping individuals navigate their lives using tools that are a right fit for for them. Book a session with her to get shit done.

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