The relationship between pessimism and burnout is like the classic “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” question.

Paradoxically, pessimism is one of the signs of burnout. Yet it’s also one of the conditions that, left unaddressed, can lead to burnout.

At first, pessimism may present itself as negative self-talk. Your normal perspective of seeing the proverbial glass as half-full may wane to a persistent glass half-empty attitude. 

And at its worst, pessimism can move beyond how you feel about yourself and extend to trust issues with coworkers and family members, along with a feeling that you can’t count on anyone.

Pessimism, along with its close counterpart cynicism, is an early warning sign of burnout. You simply can’t feel positive about what you’re doing when you’re overwhelmed by everything coming at you in your life — and it’s easy then to misdirect your feelings of anger and disappointment about this toward, well, pretty much everyone.

Though you may normally feel enthusiastic about tackling new projects and taking on new hobbies, when pessimism takes over you’re unlikely to seek out new experiences because you believe there’s no point. You’re sure there isn’t any joy or interest to be found. And that belief sets up a vicious circle that mires you deeper in pessimism.

And pessimism isn’t just a mental state. It also produces stress hormones, so your physical health takes a hit too. Chronic activation of your stress-response system along with the overexposure to stress hormones can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including: anxiety, digestive problems, headaches, and heart disease. 

Which came first, burnout or pessimism? Truthfully, when you’re in the throes of burnout-related pessimism, you probably don’t care which came first. You just want it to be better. 

So let’s take a look at the six ways you can overcome pessimism and start to regain your cheerful outlook on life.

#1 Stop negative talk. Start positive talk.

Speaking negatively about others or yourself will rob you of your optimism faster than ice melting in the desert. Stop the negative talk. Start positive talk. A tool that can be used to reprogram negative self-talk is affirmations. 

Affirmations are statements you repeat in order to affect your subconscious and conscious minds, and they power up your positivity. How do they work? The subconscious mind is 90% of your total Mind and therefore has the greatest influence over whatever it is you wish to create. By repeating affirmations out loud, daily, they influence your subconscious mind and help replace limiting beliefs with more empowering beliefs.

#2 Cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”

Sit with a notebook and a pen, and take time to write down all the things in your life you’re grateful for. No matter how small it may seem, it’s important to acknowledge what’s good in your life. Perhaps it’s appreciation for the comfortable bed you slept in last night. Or the scent of rain-soaked flowers that wafts in through your windows. When you look for things to appreciate, you’ll find them everywhere. This will increase your optimism and positive self-talk.

#3 Focus on the possibilities, not the impossibilities

You become pessimistic when you focus on what isn’t possible. All you see are huge obstacles in your way. You feel overwhelmed by problems, and can no longer see yourself as capable. 

Instead, focus your mind on the possibilities. Envision yourself overcoming even just one difficulty. Mentally walk yourself through the challenge, seeing yourself as capable and successful.

#4 Read inspiring stories

Remember how inspired you felt when you learned the stories of some of our most cherished heroes who persisted and achieved their dream? Recapture that feeling – read about Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, or Eleanor Roosevelt. Or whoever inspires you!

#5 Open your mind for new possibilities

If you’ve closed your mind to new possibilities, you can plunge yourself into pessimism. Be open to creating or allowing new perspectives to show you a variety of ways things could work out. You may discover that solutions to problems or life challenges come in unexpected ways that never occurred to you before. Prepare to be surprised and delighted!

#6 Get my complimentary “From Burnout To Balance: A Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice”

This practice has been shown to:

  • Increase mindfulness, well-being, self-confidence, and personal power
  • Increase your ability to concentrate
  • Cultivate a greater resilience to stress, a positive mindset, and a sense of hopefulness and calm
  • Decrease stress and stress-related symptoms like frustration, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm or lack of control, anxiety, depression, low energy, headaches, body aches and pains, muscle tension, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and frequent colds and infections
  • Reduce or even stop worrying

Get my complimentary “From Burnout To Balance: A Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice” here.

It’s Time To Regain Your Optimism

Being mired in the dreariness of burnout-related pessimism sucks the life out of you. You look ahead to the future and see…blah. Nothing inspiring. Your hope is gone, and you don’t seem to be able to get it back. 

I know; I’ve been there. 

But here’s the thing. 

Because I turned around my burnout with its relentless pessimism, I know you can too.

Use the tips I’ve given you. And stay connected, because I’ve got more good stuff for you.

You don’t have to face your pessimism and burnout alone. I’m here to help.


  • Dr. Whitney Gordon-Mead

    Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Ordained Minister

    Intuit Wisdom, LLC

    About Dr. Whitney Gordon-Mead:   I sold my successful financial planning business and founded Intuit Wisdom so I could help successful, high-achieving women enjoy their success without sacrificing their health, wellbeing, relationships, and dreams.   As an International Speaker, Certified Master Trainer, Certified Accelerated Evolution Coach, Spiritual Counselor, and Ordained Minister, I’ve coached and counseled powerful professional women, business owners, and executives worldwide to experience physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance.   Amidst my three+ decades of research and experience, leading up to my doctoral degree in metaphysics, I was able to heal from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder, and burnout. As a result, I designed a system for accelerated wellbeing that is rooted in metaphysics. I now use this proven system to empower each client to align with her essential authentic self, master her own wellbeing, and experience greater freedom and fulfillment in all areas of life. From relationships, work, and finances to family, health, and quality of life - there are no limits! What’s unimportant falls away. Magic happens, synchronicity.   Living in South Florida with my husband, Dean (the love of my life), and my cat, Whimsy, allows me to do the things I love, like spending time outdoors, boating, relaxing on the beach, and hiking. I also enjoy concerts and musicals, reading, writing, traveling, and investing.   My dream is a world where every woman says “YES!” to herself. I believe that life is not meant to be endured; it IS meant to be enjoyed!