The problem with ‘realists’

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So recently, I had a discussion with a good friend of mine’s about the difference the optimist, the pessimist, and the realist.

With his idea being that the optimists are just naive hopeful believers in the power of positive thinking.

Pessimists being, more cynical with negative mindsets that are always believing the worst case scenario is what will inevitably happen.

And realists being, the more measured approach between the two. As those are people who step back and look at the situations carefully and ‘objectively’. Using past experiences to determine if a particular scenario will work out in a positive light or a more negative one.    type-of-thinker-power-of-positivity-2

It was an interesting breakdown, that actually made a lot of sense. So I looked up the actual definitions and those thoughts weren’t far off. Optimists are “those who are hopeful or confident about the future of something”. Pessimists are “those who tend to see the worse aspects of things or believe that the worst will happen.” Realists on the other hand are, “a person who accepts a situation as it is and deals with it accordingly”.


What I find most interesting when it comes to many ‘realists’ I know, is that although they claim to be objective and to look at the situation for what is, that argument is always applied to the negative. Rarely do I ever here a realist lean toward potential positive situation or outcome. Apparently that point of view seems reserved of idyllic optimist. But, realists often seem to be on the lookout for the negative, aka, ‘the other shoe to drop’.

This isn’t a bad thing though, as the definition clearly says realist accept situations as they are and deal with it accordingly. The issue then becomes, is there a difference between dealing with what is, in the best way you can and expecting/preparing for the worse case scenario?

optimist prime vs negatronAnd therein lies the problem, if you are expecting and preparing for a potential negative outcome, that isn’t dealing with what is, the best way you can.

My friend would go on to demonstrate how past scenarios inform him on the potential outcome of what is currently going on. How he is just seeing what has happened before and preparing for the likelihood of it happening again. But, this isn’t accepting a situation as it is… this is more aligned with seeing the worse and believing that means the worst will continue to happen.

That’s a pessimistic perspective, especially when you only see the negatives of what happened before and make no effort to balance that by acknowledging the positives that have happened and the positive possibilities that may lie ahead. Should you choose to deal with what is, the best way you can.

Now, my friend clearly see’s me as some sort of dopey eyed naive optimist always looking for silver linings, and defines himself as a true realist, because he takes a measured and ‘objective’ perspective. However, I like to think of myself as more of an ‘optimistic realist’ and think of him as being much more pessimistic than realistic.

Perhaps there’s a gray area where he can be considered a pessimistic realist, but I believe there is just as much fallacy with seeing shadows around every corner, and expecting an inevitable bad to happen, as there is with constantly dancing around with rose-colored glasses on, seeing only silver linings everywhere.

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While I do lean towards optimism, I’m very aware and familiar with just how bad things can get. I was born with a debilitating hereditary disease that hospitalized multiple times a year in my childhood. My mother was heavily addicted to drugs while growing up, single parent household, with abusive stepfathers coming in and out my life. I grew up poor and in the hood, even spending nights in shelters and parks, etc. the definition of disenfranchised. I struggled with my health into adult good, having just recently suffered a stroke only 2 years ago! While trying to work my way through school! And that’s just some of my sob story. Yes!! I am all too familiar with how bad things can get. But… and this is a big BUT I am also keenly aware of how great things can get and the power we all have to make our lives better.

I’ve seen my mother go to rehab, get a degree, get her masters, become a Psychologist and turn around to try to help other disenfranchised, with similar struggles. I’ve seen myself get healthier, going from being hospitalized 4 times a year in childhood to just once and year in adulthood. I’ve fought through complications like a stroke, to finish my degree, relatively on time. I’ve gone from stroke to no hospitalizations in that time… my first time ever not being hospitalized in 2+ years. I’ve seen myself grow from being poor to being blessed with a beautiful home, a beautiful family and in the position of starting my own business building a platform on something I am passionate about… that being, building up men, fathers, and the fatherhood community, here at Culture of Dad!

optimist vs pessimist dationg
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optimist vs pessimist wedding
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I share all that to show the huge gamut of experiences I have had throughout my life. With plenty of reasons to be a cynical pessimist, yet despite that… having the strength of mind to maintain balance and still see the possibility of positive outcomes.

While I do have a healthy bit a skepticism when it comes to things, this is my natural way of not getting overly carried away with my rose-colored optimistic lenses. It allows me to look at things practically and discern the possibilities on both sides of the coin. To take the actions I believe will create more and more good in my life. While avoiding potential negatives. This is why I consider myself an optimistic realist — or perhaps a realistic optimist.

optimist vs pessimist parenting
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But for most realists, the tendency is to look at the negatives and go from there. You never here someone being positive and say ‘oh, I’m just being real, I’m a realist’! Its usually while being negative and justifying it, they say ‘I’m just being realistic, I’m a realist’. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem.

The term ‘Realist’ is often used by pessimists or someone being pessimistic at the moment, as a way to not own that their mindset on the issue -or in general- is negative. It’s used as a cover-up, and a way to deflect from having to look at that possibility.

While I believe there is nothing wrong with looking at the reality of things or even preparing for the worst, it’s important to be mindful of the possibility that one could just be stuck in that negative zone. That dark place where everything looks like it’s leading to the bad…  and momentum is just building in that direction. Increasing more and more negative in one’s own life. I’ve been there, I know from experience, it’s not a pleasant place.parachute

So I caution all my fellow realist out there to be self-aware of who you are and how you are being. Because although you may claim to be a realist, you could, in fact, be a pessimist in disguise.

Be good to yourselves ya’ll, you deserve it.

Peace and blessings

Zay from #CultOfDad

Fatherhood healing circle

For those Fathers in and around NYC … This ones for you!

Treat yourself to a time-out!

As a Reiki master practitioner this SUNDAY, I will be providing valuable new tools and techniques for us Dads.

To help you manage your #SelfCare practices, so you can maintain peace and your sanity, while you’re busy taking care of everyone else.

Come destress and decompress with us!

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I don’t like my kid…

Ok yahll… truth time…

At least once a day, I get sick of my kid. Absolutely 100%

I know, its a ‘taboo’ thing to admit publicly for parents, but it’s the truth. I love my son, and about half the time I really really like him. He’s smart, and funny, pretty good manners, respectful, imaginative, creative…and on and on. At least to an extent. In many ways, I can truly see a lot of the positive fruits of my labors shining brightly within him.

i dont like my kid 2That said, there is a HUGE chunk of time when I can’t stand him. He irks me… gets on my nerves, can be a smart alec (at the completely wrong times). Never knows when to be quiet or when to stop playing and be serious. Talks back way too much for my liking, questions everything that he shouldn’t, can be completely oblivious to the most basic things (like other people)…An overall mess magnet. Just a real unmanageable 5 yr old kid! Aka… A total Pain in the ass! and lets not get started on when he is completely tired or overexerted… then, everything goes out the window and all HELL breaks loose!!!  … But again, that’s only SOME of time.

Still, part of me feels like a jerk, for not being an over the top romantic about  child raising. Don’t get me wrong… I love this lil booger to the fullest… one of my most favorite people in the world! But he is also one of my biggest triggers and teachers through all the crap we go through together. It’s life as a Dad, ya know?!

i dont like my kid 3


I wish I could be more romantic and idyllic like so many others, but that’s not me and that’s not what the #CultOfDad is about. This is the place where we can get together and be real about our experiences owning our roles in this process. If we sugar-coat the realities, we leave no room to learn, process and grow through it.

The fact of the matter is fatherhood can be hard at times… it’s hard to admit that there are times when I’m not feeling this kid, because it makes me feel less than. I can see my own shortcomings in it. Like my need for control or desire for power, respect and authority over my own family. It’s hard to take that step back and see those things. My lack of patience, or my own stubborn attitudes, etc.  It hard to think that this life I created… this life that I like to think of as being ‘mine’… truly is not mine. He’s his own autonomous being with his own wants and needs. And his pushing and triggering me (aka pissing me off) forces me to look at myself and what I may be doing wrong. Or how can I improve on myself to reduce those shortcomings I see.

At times I catch myself wanting to exercise power, or trying to rule or govern… but at times because its necessary other times not so much.

Yet, that is what this process does. It is an opportunity to not only take care of and guide others, but to look at oneself and continue to grow and improve yourself in the process. I did not always like my teachers in school, but I always appreciated and had some love for those that guided me and taught me something of value. ‘Dadding’, is no different, we may not always like our kids… because they provide opportunities to look at and learn about ourselves. To guide us in a sense and teach us HARD lessons in our own growth.

Sure we can choose to be less aware and not acknowledge or accept that. We can choose to be the tough guy and insist our way goes without actually making the effort to evolve ourselves… but then we are just choosing to continue same cycles and the same negative experiences we had growing up…. those same experience that did us so much harm. I for one am making the effort to choose otherwise…

Helpful chart to figure out what’s your parenting style… and how you might evolve it.

So as painful as it may be sometimes… cheers to our little pain in the ass teachers helping us evolve, so that we in turn can give them the best of us!

If your can relate, you’re SOOOO not alone! Sound of in the comments below!