Defensive pessimism

… a strategy used by anxious people to help them manage their anxiety so they can work productively. Defensive pessimists lower their expectations to help prepare themselves for the worst. Then, they mentally play through all the bad things that might happen. Though it sounds as if it might be depressing, defensive pessimism actually helps anxious people focus away from their emotions so that they can plan and act effectively.

I have always thought of myself as a pessimist. Well, a worrier. The background clutter that is my mind constantly runs through problems. Instead of like Kirk cheating his way through the Kobayashi Maru test, I would have mentally run through all those permutations and been ready for whatever it could throw at me. Imagining all the things that will go wrong and being prepared for handling them is, I think, what made me good at my job. Even if the situation is not exactly the same, then it is likely similar.

Plenty of situations are completely new to me. They are what cause me stress. But, then my brain gnaws on them until I am ready.

One gratifying thing is I see this defensive pessimism in other information technologists. Any field where things are built for high resiliency and maximum usage, I think, we want people like me designing and operating them. We plan for failure and will more likely give the thing more success for ensuring most of the ways it could fail are resolved or at least give ourselves enough warning to deal with it.

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