Playing the Devil’s Advocate

Why do we think negatively when we know better?

“If I expect the worst, I am pleasantly surprised when something turns out well.”

Such an approach to life situations, is modus operandi for some members of my family.

I do get why people do get into the habit. I used to do this myself.

Some don’t like to get their hopes up and experience disappointment. They would rather enjoy the pleasant surprise when everything works out well. Sounds plausible and positive, but is it good for our mental health?

Is this a productive way of thinking – in that it supports us in dealing with our daily issues?

If you do this, does it work for you?


You might even be a “prepper.”

Not the kind that are preparing for the apocalypse, but those folk that prepare for the worst-case scenario, exploring alternatives, or problem-solving the task or situation at hand in order to understand everything that can go wrong, so they can handle it better, when or if, it does go pear-shaped.

In preparing for the worst-case scenario, they feel they begin to process their own grief reaction to crises or adverse circumstances in their life.

Thinking negatively, expecting “the worst,” seeing the downside of positive situations, and even downright expecting failure, all convey a kind of backwards-thinking, emotional insurance policy.

Marc and Angel

When things work out well, people use this mental strategy to feel good about the uncontrollable nature of life.

They are innately rewarded unconsciously for this way of thinking.

This leads them to use this technique to deal with life again and again. Then it becomes entrenched as a habitual response. A habit like this can be extremely hard to shift.


I used to think more often in the negative, thinking I was preparing for unfavourable outcomes. I would worry about things, trying to process them, and by so doing felt I would be better prepared for the worst of the worst outcomes, if that eventuated. In the meantime, was I setting myself up for a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Sometimes, as foolish as it sounds, we’d rather be right about our negative predictions than have a positive outcome prove us wrong.  And since negative thinking leads to negative actions, or no action at all in many cases, by thinking negatively we create a self-fulfilling prediction for ourselves that confirms that we were right about the circumstance all along.

In other words, we think negatively, predict a negative outcome, act negatively, and then receive a negative outcome that fulfils our prediction. Of course, none of this is what we truly want or need in our lives.

Marc and Angel

It seems that our desire to want to be right, or feel in control of the changeable nature and vagaries of life is one reason why we subconsciously choose this negative strategy, through no fault of our own.

In fact, whatever it is we are seeking will rarely ever come in the form we’re expecting, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful.


Choose to ignore negative thoughts because they do not support you but do not feel guilty if this is not easy or achievable.

Life can be good even if it isn’t perfect.  Too many people miss a silver lining because they’re expecting pure gold. Life can be good even if it isn’t perfect.

Positive thinking isn’t about expecting the best to always happen, but accepting that whatever happens, is the best, for the moment.

Someday, the negative voice inside you will have nothing left to say.

National garden Japan

39 thoughts on “Playing the Devil’s Advocate”

    1. The best way to be, Peggy. You are fortunate to have such strong leanings. I can’t imagine you ever feeling depressed? Sad maybe, but I get the feeling that you would make the best of any situation and accept what could not be changed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I try. Having a wonderful time going through old photos and sending many to their rightful owners. Well, they belong to me, but they should be in another person’s collection. So far everyone as been delighted to receive.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. A good idea to cull one’s photo collection and distribute them. I have a massive collection and that would be a nice surprise to send them in the post to someone else. Good idea, Peggy.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve never thought about why some people default to negative thinking. Most interesting post here. I’m hardly a Pollyanna, but I don’t let the negative voice in my head take over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I often think about the motivation behind various kinds of thinking and the connection between that and one’s own reality, Ally. It is always interesting to hear other folk’s interpretation or perspective.
      Some people find it hard to imagine being so negative in one’s thoughts that you just cannot change to ‘thinking positive.’ Recalcitrant mental conditions suggest otherwise and I am intrigued as to how much of that is under our control and how we might influence that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great thoughts. I have D.I.D (dissociative identity disorder)so there is lots to discuss in any situation. lol. I love to be as positive as possible until the situation calls for a complete meltdown which isn’t very often thank God.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being positive doesn’t always come naturally to everyone, especially if they haven’t had that presented to them as a role model in life. I think it takes practice and hopefully it can become more of a habit than negative thinking. Good point that you make, in that sometimes we need to get things off our chest in a constructive way, or else they eat away at our thinking.


    1. Oh thank you, Marion. That is kind of you to say so. It is the quotes and words of others that are provoking of thoughts, new ideas and more importantly, new perspectives. With your travels, you must have had your share of worries, yet
      I imagine you to be squarely on the positive side of the coin?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My fingers are crossed whenever I bring my pick up truck in for its periodic oil change/check up– with hopes that nothing especial is found to greatly increase the cost of my visit. But– I need my vehicle– and because of the trust I have with my dealership– I’ll pay the unexpected extra with a grain of salt. Hey. Even vehicles well-cared for occasionally come down with big problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. G´day, thank you for this very deep and insightful post! I thoroughly enjoyed this and find it so refreshing to read such an encouraging and uplifting perspective, especially nowadays:) I especially liked your statement “Positive thinking isn’t about expecting the best to always happen, but accepting that whatever happens, is the best, for the moment”, as well as “whatever it is we are seeking will rarely ever come in the form we’re expecting, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful.” This is wonderful and very timely food for thought for me, thank you again for this!! Wishing you a beautiful day in my beloved Straya;), blessings 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day from Straya! Thanks for the visit and the lovely comment. There is loads of stuff about just thinking positive everywhere in the world from the net to community centre flyers, but it isn’t always practical and perhaps this is why there are so many recalcitrant cases of depression and mental ill health. Finding words that cut through the trite and clipped encouragements to the deeper issues, can really help in difficult times. Where are you situated, Gypsy?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure dear! Yes, I agree with your words here, and I also feel that nutrition is another key element that needs to be much more in focus regarding great mental health… I did really enjoy this post of yours, thanks 🙂 And yes, keeping it clear and concise is definitely much needed in these times! I am currently located in Southern Spain 🙂 Where in Australia are you situated? Blessings:)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hello to Spain! I am in the sub tropical North near Brisbane.
          On nutrition, there is so much more study given over to the gut biome and it’s effect on mental well-being, stress and mood.
          Changing diet is fairly painless. I wish more folk would consider it a valid treatment.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hello to Australia:) Oh you live in a wonderful area of Australia! I visited Queensland/ Brisbane area in 2014 and absolutely loved it. I completely agree with you on wishing more people would look into healthy nutrition! Would be great for the planet, themselves AND everyone around, too:) Have a beautiful weekend!

            Liked by 1 person

    1. WordPress didn´t alert me to your answer – here it comes haha: Interesting information about Aussies retiring in Spain, I did not know that! Hmm yes good question regarding Covid… I trust that lots of things will have changed in a year or two, and I do hope, many for the better! Have a great start to your week 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Amanda, The positive/negative mindset has always been an interesting topic. I am usually cup half full, yet pragmatic. I think you and I have discussed Marc and Angel in the past. I love them! You bring up many great points in this post. Your photos are beautiful!


    1. I think we have both found lots of things to mull over in Marc and Angel’s words. I have a few more wisdoms from them to post in this series before I move on to other topics.
      It is good to hear that you are a cup half full kind of person, and pragmatic. A good combination to withstand the batterings that life throws at some of us.
      Thank you for looking my photos. Nature can be calming and inspirational. Have we chatted about the role of meditation in thinking more positively?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I thought so. Yes, we shall continue the practice. Today I went down to the beach and took some still shots and recorded some audio to play for a meditation practice. I hope you had a lovely day too, Eric/ka.

          Liked by 1 person

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