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Escape from Pessimism


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As a long time observer of the eNotAlone boards, I have come to recognize the frequent shunning of any sort of pessimism and the constant justification of optimism. This phenomenon is not inherent only to this board, of course, as it is generally seen throughout all of Western society. But for the sake of argument, I will keep it restricted to the world of eNotAlone.

 

Is this constant promoting of optimistic thought (both directly and indirectly) a healthy response to the various problems people post about on these boards? It is most definitely always the safe bet, to be sure; it allows for an easy and fast guideline to follow and keeps the response politically correct. And in more extreme cases, when posters are posting their problems during extreme and immediate affliction, an optimistic response can prevent the poster from taking that last fall into unbearable despair. In this case, a knee-jerk optimistic solution is clearly needed and healthily acceptable.

 

But then we have the more stable posters. These posters are the ones who aren't on the verge of a total meltdown. Their problems are less immediate and lack a sense of urgency. These posters are generally more contemplative and maybe even more questioning and actually convey their problem with proper grammar and excellent paragraph breaks. How should we handle these posters?

 

I notice that they're handled in the same way that the "extreme posters" are handled: that is, with optimism. Sometimes this optimism is more thought out and maybe even hints at a non-solution to the problem (i.e. shades of pessimism), but generally stays very positive. This positive thought is most definitely seen as a great method of therapy, of course, and is only conveyed with the best possible intentions. However, this kind of optimistic thought not only offers a very superficial and limited solution, it may also cause more serious, long-term problems.

 

What I mean by this is that the more "stable posters" have, more often than not, thought about their problem and how they are feeling regarding that problem way in advance of actually posting it. In fact, they have probably thought or have been advised of all the "easy" ways out of the problem prior to posting. That explains the "last resort" mentality to coming online and posting about it. All this is nothing new, however, as it is clearly observed and stated in the thread (sometimes by the poster himself/herself).

 

Clearly, the poster is not looking for an answer as much as they are actually looking for someone to relate to. Whatever their dilemma is, they want to know that someone out their is sufferring from the same dilemma. They want to know that they are "not alone." Now, they might disguise this desire by asking how to solve the problem. We all know these types: the threads where a multitude of repliers respond with positive, proactive solutions only to be shot-down by the poster himself/herself. These are the posters who refuse to allow the easily digestable optimistic solutions to solve their very serious problems. This usually results in a tainted thread that leaves everyone, especially the thread-starter, feeling more alone and misunderstood.

 

Or, with a more "open" and impressionable poster, he/she might actually accept that these ARE the answers to their problems. But, if we accept that this "stable poster," who has written a coherent, well-thought-out representation of their problem, has previously pondered the various solutions before posting, then we must accept that the solutions offered on this sight are, more than likely, nothing new. And here is where the rub lies: the "stable poster" rejects the answers that he/she is presented with in real life, but comes to accept those exact same "last resort" answers by the overwhelming mass of optimistic posters on the board. Now we can see the true tragedy: the poster's further alienation from self and from others. They're left with the consequences of overlooking their problems for a quick answer, really never getting anywhere (or, if they're lucky, a temporary solution).

 

What I'm proposing is a deeper look into the dilemmas of posters and presenting them with a more realistic framework to view their problems in. A good start would be to begin reading between the lines of the posts and realizing that most of us just want to know that we are, in fact, "not alone."

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Valid thoughts and contribution. Applies to life in general too, I think.

 

Nottoogreen said it well on his resource post about depression. "You deserve to be understood, but to expect others to understand you is foolish."

 

What it comes down to is each individual who comes here is responsible for their own lives. The people here try hard to help, to support, to listen, to offer helpful advice (for the most part), and sometimes to lighten stuff up with some humour and optimism. Sometimes people relate, sometimes it's an opening to say their own opinion, sometimes it triggers off other emtions and the thread gets derailed.

 

We're not perfect.

 

On a personal note: optimism is received well in life in general, while pessimism generally gets the opposite effect. I've tested this theory and found it to be true! You can test for yourself.

It's a law of human nature, methinks.

 

cheers.

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As a long time observer of the eNotAlone boards, I have come to recognize the frequent shunning of any sort of pessimism and the constant justification of optimism. This phenomenon is not inherent only to this board, of course, as it is generally seen throughout all of Western society. But for the sake of argument, I will keep it restricted to the world of eNotAlone.

This post relates to the way I work here. Optimism is our driving force. As long as we are realistic and open to change, we will maximize our potential.
... an optimistic response can prevent the poster from taking that last fall into unbearable despair. In this case, a knee-jerk optimistic solution is clearly needed and healthily acceptable.

It's a temporary quick fix which must be followed up by solutions which in turn have to be followed up.

But then we have the more stable posters. These posters are the ones who aren't on the verge of a total meltdown. Their problems are less immediate and lack a sense of urgency. These posters are generally more contemplative and maybe even more questioning and actually convey their problem with proper grammar and excellent paragraph breaks. How should we handle these posters?

Skip the quick fix, get down to business with solutions which in turn have to be followed up.

I notice that they're handled in the same way that the "extreme posters" are handled: that is, with optimism. Sometimes this optimism is more thought out and maybe even hints at a non-solution to the problem (i.e. shades of pessimism), but generally stays very positive. This positive thought is most definitely seen as a great method of therapy, of course, and is only conveyed with the best possible intentions. However, this kind of optimistic thought not only offers a very superficial and limited solution, it may also cause more serious, long-term problems.

I concur, omission of solution and change is hazardous and counterproductive.

What I mean by this is that the more "stable posters" have, more often than not, thought about their problem and how they are feeling regarding that problem way in advance of actually posting it. In fact, they have probably thought or have been advised of all the "easy" ways out of the problem prior to posting. That explains the "last resort" mentality to coming online and posting about it. All this is nothing new, however, as it is clearly observed and stated in the thread (sometimes by the poster himself/herself).

Opening up helps to relieve pressure instead of exploding or imploding. Also important is to have someone listen, relate and be attentative.

Clearly, the poster is not looking for an answer as much as they are actually looking for someone to relate to. Whatever their dilemma is, they want to know that someone out their is sufferring from the same dilemma. They want to know that they are "not alone." Now, they might disguise this desire by asking how to solve the problem. We all know these types: the threads where a multitude of repliers respond with positive, proactive solutions only to be shot-down by the poster himself/herself. These are the posters who refuse to allow the easily digestable optimistic solutions to solve their very serious problems. This usually results in a tainted thread that leaves everyone, especially the thread-starter, feeling more alone and misunderstood.

Some posters are "happy" with venting and look for attention with out change, starting thread after thread. I tend to get impatient with non-progressing posters and rattle them a bit at times to get them back on track - much to the annoyance of those chronic optimism dispensers.

Or, with a more "open" and impressionable poster, he/she might actually accept that these ARE the answers to their problems. But, if we accept that this "stable poster," who has written a coherent, well-thought-out representation of their problem, has previously pondered the various solutions before posting, then we must accept that the solutions offered on this sight are, more than likely, nothing new. And here is where the rub lies: the "stable poster" rejects the answers that he/she is presented with in real life, but comes to accept those exact same "last resort" answers by the overwhelming mass of optimistic posters on the board. Now we can see the true tragedy: the poster's further alienation from self and from others. They're left with the consequences of overlooking their problems for a quick answer, really never getting anywhere (or, if they're lucky, a temporary solution).

I promote realism and look for their progress.

What I'm proposing is a deeper look into the dilemmas of posters and presenting them with a more realistic framework to view their problems in. A good start would be to begin reading between the lines of the posts and realizing that most of us just want to know that we are, in fact, "not alone."

That's what I do, and I follow up and will do so until they are stable. And I rather skip a new post then neglect someone who is progressing.

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