After being accused of it all my life, I assumed I must be a pessimist. Not until I stumbled upon this simple advice in my "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" daily calendar did I realize, expecting the worst was a coping mechanism.
In this calendar, Richard Carlson (yes, I'm referring to him again) suggests that if each of us expects the milk to spill, we might not cry over spilled milk. This point is so simple, but so powerful. Not being constantly aware of the possibility that the milk jug could spill, makes the spill, when it eventually happens, that much more devastating. The same way that in life, expecting everything to go according to your plan will only make it that much more upsetting when things don't.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I never asked "why me?" (Seriously. Ask my family.) The answer to that question was always obvious. If you have to ask, then of course you! Crappy things happen to everyone all the time and thinking you're exempt from that rule will only make it that much more frustrating when it does.
Is this the gloomy outlook of a pessimist? Or, the musings of an individual who, as a result of enduring some hardships in her young life, knows well enough to Expect It To Spill?
You don't have to plan for the worst to happen, but at least be prepared for it.