Suffering from glass-half-empty syndrome? Seven ways to fill it up!

Is there an automatic little voice in your head that nudges you to play down all that is positive and hopeful? Do friends and colleagues often chuckle and tell you to stop being such a pessimist? And, the most important question is – would you like this to be different, but are not sure how to accomplish it? If your answer is yes – great, please read on! Let’s start by having a peak at a day in the life of ‘Glass Half-Empty’ Mark:

8:30am – The Coffee Shop:

Mark bumps into a colleague. “Morning Mark! Isn’t it a gorgeous day!” Mark responds, “Yeah for now, it’ll rain though”.

2:00pm – a meeting with his manager:

“Mark, I’d like you to give a presentation at the conference next week – a great opportunity for you to market yourself!” Mark thinks, “No. It’ll be a great opportunity for me to underwhelm the audience. I’ll find a way to hand this off.”

7:00pm – at home

“Daddy, it’s raining so hard! I’m going outside to stand in it!” Mark replies: “Stay here, you’ll get the floor muddy.”

Family and friends know Mark to be an awesome guy, but it’s interesting to see how his pessimistic life filter tends to subdue his joie de vivre and adventuresome spirit. In addition, it shovels a bit of snow at the joyful person he’s speaking with – but here’s the good news! Viewing our world through negative, doubtful eyes is simply about perspective, choice and habit, all three of which we have the power to change at will. The change won’t happen in the blink of an eye, but it CAN be accomplished.

Our auto-responses, mindsets and belief-systems find their origins in our environment and experiences as we grow up. We simply become accustomed to these attitudes, whether they are nurturing for us or not, and they evolve into a default part of our thinking. Essentially, we program them in – that is, until we choose to ‘change our software’.

Here are seven great tips to get started, if you’re in the mood to reprogram. I’ll need to ask you to ‘channel’ the following, possibly shy, and less developed, inner selves.

  1. Call in: your cheerleader

None of us are willing to make an effort to change unless we are truly motivated by personal desire. The discomfort of generating the shift and moving out of our familiar comfort zone to accomplish it must be outweighed by a delicious and attractive new vision of our future self. So, only you can keep your spirit high as you take on this journey of change!

  1. Call in: your avatar

Invite your wise, inner self to hover on your shoulder and observe and listen. Try to identify the specific characteristics of your ‘half-empty’ thinking. When does it tend to occur, with whom and why? Is it just a habitual cynical response like Mark’s at the coffee shop? Is it the expression of something more personal, such as doubtful self-worth or lack of trust in your ability? Become as self-aware as possible. The more you can witness it, the easier it will be to identify the specific thought patterns you want to shift.

  1. Call in: your explorer

Change involves trekking though uncharted waters, so you’ll need to call on your courage and indomitable spirit. One thing that will help is to have a crisp, clear vision of the new attitude you want to set as your goal. How does it sound and look to others? What would you like your inner voice to be saying to you in the future in order to replace the old, ineffective one? How will you choose to think, behave and speak differently? Use your imagination to explore this new space and fresh options.

  1. Call in: your lab-rat

Now that you’ve discovered new possibilities, you’ll need to become your own test-case guinea pig. It’s time to experiment with the new programming. Each morning, remind yourself about your new goal to think differently and review the specifics of the changes you’ve decided to make. Anticipate opportunities that may arise during the day and on the way to work – and rehearse your new responses. The more you use your imagination and practise them in your head, the easier it will be to bring them forth in the moment of truth.

  1. Call in: your bartender

Laughing. Nope … I’m reading your mind. I want to suggest instead, that you take this journey in small steps. Try not to set your sites on an instant BIG shift from glass half-empty to glass half-full. Simply aim first to reach the bartender’s ‘pour line’. Experiment at the 50/50 mark and move your way upwards as you’re ready, in small, safe, comfortable increments. Every shift is significant and it doesn’t have to be dramatic or enormous.

  1. Call in: your personal trainer

If there is a strength or characteristic that is a prerequisite to succeeding at reprogramming our thinking, it is ‘perseverance’. Slip backs are typical and disappointing just at the point where we think we have it made. Know this is absolutely normal as part of the process. Push yourself to do a few more reps – your new-thinking default mode is very close!

  1. Call in: your celebrant

And now, reflect. Bask in the glow of your success and the rewards of your hard work – the new, more optimistic you! How good does it feel? What next?

Muffy Churches is the author of Coach Yourself, and is an internationally renowned integrative success coach. Born in the USA and settled in Sydney, she works as a corporate trainer, executive coach, speaker, author and counsellor. She has extensive experience in inspiring and initiating positive behavioural change in clients around the world. To find out more, go to or email [email protected]

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