false implications

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This article is excerpted from the book, Antivirus For Your Mind.

 



This is one of "22 virus definitions" (thought-mistakes that cause ineffectiveness and unnecessary negative emotions).

THERE 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 was true.

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 it’s 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.

This article is excerpted from the book, Antivirus For Your Mind.

Author: Adam Khan
author of the books, Self-Help Stuff That Works and Antivirus For Your Mind
and creator of the blog:
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