This is going to seem like a strange message in light of my very strong belief in the power of positive thinking and changing negative thoughts to positive ones. However, I do believe there are time "defensive pessimism" definitely has its place.
Defensive pessimism basically has three steps:
1) Lower your expectations of a particular outcome. For instance, my book is coming out soon (I still don't know exactly when). While I would love for it to sell thousands of copies and win any number of awards, I've decided to just be happy to see it in print when I finally hold the final copy.
2) When you find yourself playing the "what if?" game, give it your all. Go ahead and imagine the absolute worse that could happen. Back to my example: My biggest "what if?" is "What if no one buys my book?" and "What if the people who DO buy it hate it?". So, I've written down the worse possible scenarios and that's where #3 comes in.
3) Using your list of the worse that could happen, plan on a course of action to be sure you some strategies in place to A) prevent the worse case scenarios from becoming reality, or B) if they do become a reality, you're prepared with some ways to combat it. So, I'm A) working on promoting my book and setting up readings once the book is out and B) I have my cave dug to hide in (just kidding! LOL).
I've read that people who are natural pessimists (and we are out here) actually do better using defenisve pessimism (especially for the big things in life) than when we force ourselves to "think positive" about everything. And believe me, I do believe in positive thinking and I use it on a daily basis. But right now, I'm faced with some personal issues with my son that are really challenging my positive thinking skills. So, I sat down this morning before I meditated and made out a list of all the absolute worse things that could happen in this situation. Then I made up my strategy list and meditated on it, asking my Higher Power, my Goddess, for guidance in finding a positive way through it all. I guess you could say I'm learning to combine positive thinking and defensive pessimism to my advantage.