This is one of "22
virus definitions" (thought-mistakes that cause ineffectiveness
and unnecessary negative emotions).
ARE 22 virus definitions in all. This is number 8. The science of determination calls for a very
simple task: When you feel discouraged, write down the negative
thoughts you're having, and then check them for validity. See
if some of the thoughts you have are questionable. When you discover
a negative or demoralizing thought that you now realize is not
valid, you will immediately feel better. You will feel less discouraged.
Your determination will be stronger.
You don't need to memorize the 22 virus
definitions, although it would be okay if you did. All you have
to do, really, is get a feel for them. I'm describing each one
so you can see what I mean by "thought-mistakes."
The human brain isn't perfect, and it makes
mistakes in its thinking. When you assume something disheartening,
it is entirely possible your assumption is a mistake. It might
be inaccurate, or based on weak evidence, or not the only possible
way to interpret the circumstances. If you never question your
assumption, your determination and your feeling of motivation
will be weak because of that false assumption. You can
be defeated in your mind just as thoroughly as if your assumption
So take the time when you feel demoralized
(or not as motivated as you once were), and write down your explanations
for your setbacks and then see if there is anything wrong with
them. Look at the evidence you have for your negative assumptions.
Is it enough evidence? Would it convince a jury?
Even if you have plenty of evidence for
an explanation and even if its the only explanation you
can think of, what you think your explanation implies may be
mistaken or unnecessarily self-defeating. This is the mistake
of "false implications."
For example, let's say you want "peace
on earth." You're an activist, a protester, and you work
toward a more peaceful world. But of course, you see the news
and read reports of wars around the world. This is a setback.
It makes you feel discouraged. You write down your negative thoughts.
You write down what you think caused the setback. So you
write, Violence is the human condition. That's your
explanation of the setback.
You then try to see if there is anything
wrong with your negative thought. First you look at the evidence,
and discover that unfortunately, you have plenty of evidence.
Wars have been fought since the beginning of history. But then
you look at the implications of your negative thought. The thought
implies that 1) nothing can change it, and 2) that love and kindness
are not also the human condition. You realize that "nothing
can change it" is probably not true. And that it is true
that love and kindness are also part of the human condition.
Once you realize the implications are false, the thought, "violence
is the human condition" isn't as disheartening. Your determination
to work for peace returns when you realize the implications
of your negative thought were false.
It is never the circumstances that
make you feel discouraged. It is your thoughts about the
circumstances. If you discover that your thoughts are not accurate
or valid, your discouragement will vanish. You will feel more
determination and motivation almost immediately.
Let's look at another example. John and
his wife are arguing. They've had the same argument about the
same thing since they've been married. And nothing seems to change.
It is frustrating, and John feels discouraged. He doesn't think
it's ever going to change. His stomach is twisted in a knot and
he feels like he can't breathe. What does he do? He uses the antivirus
for the mind.
So he sits down and writes out his negative
thoughts. Specifically, he writes down what he thinks is causing
the setback. He wants a happy marriage and this ongoing, unresolvable
fight is the setback. It keeps ruining their affection for each
other. What is causing this setback? He thinks, "I'm impatient.
I have always been impatient. I'm just an impatient person."
This statement, this assumption of his,
contains more than one thought-mistake, but let's just look at
the implications of it. The implication is: He cannot become
more patient. And that is probably not true. If he concentrated
on become more patient, it is likely he would find ways and means.
If he talked with people he knew who were patient and asked them
how they think about things, he could probably find some good
ideas to try. There are probably even books on the subject. If
he looked into it, he would find lots of avenues he could pursue
to develop more patience.
If these ongoing arguments are truly intolerable,
his question should be, "Even though I have always been
impatient, would I be willing to change that seemingly fixed
characteristic, if it would make our marriage better?"
When you're looking at your own explanations
of setbacks, look at the evidence for your demoralizing thoughts,
but also look at the implications of your thoughts. If you discover
the implications are false, you will stop feeling disheartened
and your determination will come back.
Read an example of false implications.
See the complete list of definitions: The 22 Virus Definitions.