This is one of "22
virus definitions" (thought-mistakes that cause ineffectiveness
and unnecessary negative emotions).
several factors influence the outcome of any given event. You
may have latched onto the most demoralizing factor and decided
thats what caused it. Look for alternative (and equally
likely) influencing factors. The more you find, the less demoralizing
any one of them will be.
As Seligman wrote: If you did poorly on a test,
many factors could have contributed to that outcome. You may
have been tired, the test might have been unusually difficult,
the other students might have done exceptionally well (thus raising
the grading curve), you might not have studied as much as you
should have, the professor might have graded unfairly, you might
not be very smart, and so on.
All of those are possible causes of the
setback (your poor grade is the setback in this case). Some people
leap to the most demoralizing conclusion and fixate on that,
ignoring the other causes, debilitating themselves and feeling
bad when it was entirely avoidable (and penalty-free).
That was a lot to pack into one paragraph,
so let me explain it a little better. First, you hit a setback,
which means something didn't go the way you'd hoped. And you
feel let down by it. You feel demoralized. The bad feeling causes
you to focus on whatever explanation for the setback popped into
your head first. Usually this will be the most dire explanation.
You focus on that one and ignore the fact that many different
causes influenced how things turned out. Many of those other
causes wouldn't make you feel so bad, but you are ignoring them.
For example, I create a blog and I write
stuff, and I can see more and more people coming to my site,
and everything is great, and all of a sudden my traffic starts
to go DOWN! This is a setback. And I feel upset. I think to myself,
"They've all come and looked at my site and rejected it.
I am a lousy blogger." I ignore several other possible influencing
factors like this is a holiday weekend or random variation or
the photo of Paris Hilton I keep putting on every blog post.
I am fixated on my dire and catastrophic explanation for my setback,
and it sends me into a deep depression. Why? Because I have committed
the thought-mistake of ignoring alternatives. The virus has infected
What should I do? Why, of course: Put myself
right with the antivirus
for the mind and restore my determination as quickly as possible.
See the complete list of definitions: The 22 Virus Definitions.