The practice of ‘Awfulising’ – imagining something to be as bad as it really can be – is particularly destructive when its more subtle forms creep into our processing of everyday matters. It not only presumes to know things that can’t always be known, but it also presents them in the worst possible light. Successful people tend to have a healthy blend of optimism and realism that can straddle the needs of casting a believable vision and adapting to shifting realities in a positive and inspiring way.
People don’t often find it easy to be led by naysayers and prophets of doom. Critics who believe themselves to be perceptive when they actually tend to talk down others’ hopes and dreams become unwelcome, if not unwitting, wet blankets.
Even when opinions are owned as personal views and not facts, expressing an extreme, such as “I can’t stand it when…”, suggests a tone of near-paralysis in the face of circumstances to which we can respond with creativity that is based on what God gives (Ephesians 2:10) and with faith that is based on what God says (Romans 10:17).
As a Christian, I try to imagine God’s perspective on matters. Asking, “Where is God in this?” or, taking comfort from the triumphs of others over their adversities, can help. So too can adopting biblical promises that I must believe if Christ is in my corner: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and “With God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
The prophet Elijah’s own ‘awfulising’ in 1 Kings 19:1-10 was trending toward depression. Though our tendencies may not be that bad, unhealthy perspectives risk imprisoning us in negativity that can rob us of a divine destiny on account of our attitude. And where it is about an attitude we can choose, and not more complex medical factors, what is merely possible by default becomes altogether more probably by design.