This is one of "22
virus definitions" (thought-mistakes that cause ineffectiveness
and unnecessary negative emotions).
REPUBLICANS won because they manipulated the election results.
The air is polluted is because nobody cares. The reason she left
me is Im a loser. These are all explanations of events.
And of course these are not the only possible explanations for
those events. In fact, with a little time, most people could
come up with many alternative explanations, some of them more
likely to be true. But when you're feeling down, you are more
likely to explain setbacks with the worst possible explanation.
And this tends to make you feel even more demoralized.
In other words, the more disheartened you
get, the more likely you are to choose the worst possible explanation,
which can make discouragement a self-perpetuating, self-feeding,
What can you do about it? Simple: Notice
you have chosen a dire explanation, realize its not the
only possible one, and make a list of other, less dire, more
likely explanations. It always comes back to using the antivirus
for your mind. Always do it in writing. It doesn't take long
and it works like magic.
Write down what you think caused your setback.
This is your "explanation" of the setback. Now find
something wrong with that explanation. One thing that might be
wrong one possible thought-mistake is assuming
your explanation is the only valid one when it isn't. The solution
is to make a list of possible alternative explanations. Think
of something else (something less depressing) that explains the
setback just as well.
For example, you start a new business,
you're feeling enthusiastic, but after a few months, things aren't
going as well as you'd hoped, and it slowly dawns on you it is
going to take longer than you thought to make good money. This
is a setback. Remember, a setback is anything that happens that
you didn't want to happen. Or anything that doesn't happen that
you wanted to happen. So this is a setback: You're not making
money as quickly as you thought.
You feel discouraged because you automatically
explained the setback with the worst possible explanation, "People
don't want my product." Okay, that's an explanation of the
setback. But it's only one of many possible explanations. So
you try to come up with alternative explanations. What other
reasons would explain why you aren't making as much money as
you thought you would? You might write a list like this:
1. I didn't know much about this business
when I started, so my predictions in the beginning were bound
to be wrong.
2. It takes awhile for people to find out
about my business.
3. I didn't spend enough money on advertising.
4. I spent money on the wrong kind of advertising.
5. My original expectations were unrealistic.
6. I'm just being impatient.
These are explanations of the setback.
Any of these explanations would be less disheartening than the
one you came up with first. Which explanation do you choose?
It depends. If one of them seems more right than the others,
you can choose that one. But you also have the option of not
choosing any. In truth, your setback was probably caused by more
than one factor, and you may not know which ones.
As far as your feeling of discouragement
is concerned, it doesn't really matter. As soon as you recognize
your explanation isnt the only one possible, you will almost
immediately feel your mood lifting. Your head will come out of
the darkness and it will become easier and easier to think of
less catastrophic explanations than the first one you came up
with. Your rising mood will start to work in your favor, creating
an upward spiral.
See the complete list of definitions: The 22 Virus Definitions.