In his book “The Happiness Advantage” Shawn Achor describes how people create mental maps with usually at least three different paths (stat quo to future state), one which may lead to a positive and/or optimistic outcome (while the others lead to a “not so” positive result).
Needless to say that in some situations (e.g. stress) we tend to black out that third positive path and end up in a state of helplessness, while we should always strive for that better, positive path. In other words, we make things worse than they are and sabotage our own strength and confidence to overcome life difficulties and obstacles. He proposes some tools to essentially open our eyes for that positive path in our mental maps in his chapter “Principle #4: Falling up”. Good read, I can recommend it.
Also see him here on his ted talk.