This article is part of a series called
Antivirus For Your Mind.
BEST NEWS about the antivirus for your mind is that the moment
you recognize one of your negative thoughts is nonsense, the
spell is broken. Immediately. You dont have to wait for
some vague reward in the future.
If you think, Im helpless to
do anything about it, and you really look at that assumption
and find you have very little evidence to justify such a sweeping
allegation, your negative feeling evaporates. As soon as you
recognize you have been mistaken, your demoralization vanishes,
literally within minutes.
Your feelings are influenced by your thoughts,
but only the thoughts you truly believe. If you dont believe
it, a thought will have zero impact on your feelings. Thats
why positive thinking sometimes doesnt work. But its
also why as soon as you find something wrong with a pessimistic
thought the moment you realize you were mistaken and you
stop believing it your feelings change.
Its not what you say to yourself
that makes a difference. Its what you believe. And not
what you can get yourself to believe, but what you
really and truly think is true.
When you think, Jerry is a jerk,
and you feel angry because of it, as soon as you recognize its
merely a label and therefore its an overstatement, your
feeling of anger diminishes. Immediately. You now dont
believe Jerry is a jerk. Maybe you think he doesnt speak
very nicely to you sometimes for reasons you dont know.
Thats more in line with reality and not as angering.
Your new, more reasonable explanation reminds
you that you dont speak nicely sometimes and sometimes
other people dont know why. Were all just human.
That doesnt mean you have to love Jerry, or even like him.
Remember, this is not trying to do anything positive. Just take
the negative nonsense out of your explanations.
If you find one of your demoralizing explanations
is true, okay. Leave it alone. Dont try to gloss it over
with niceness just because it makes you feel bad. Sometimes you
will feel bad, because sometimes reality sucks. But more times
than not, the explanations making you sad or angry or worried
are wrong. They contain mistakes.
Often something that was a big problem
fizzles away into nothing under the glaring scrutiny of your
earnest search for thought-mistakes. You find some mistakes,
you see through the illusion, and poof the problem disappears.
Not always, but it happens.
trigger the explanation-check
So the good news is that your feelings
change quickly. The bad news is that even though you know this,
and even though you dont like feeling bad, you will still
forget to use it. At the time youre feeling bad, it probably
wont occur to you to do anything about it. Bad feelings
have a kind of mesmerizing, hypnotic effect. Bad feelings capture
So you need to make setbacks trigger an
explanation-check. Associate setbacks, and the feeling of demoralization
that follows, with an explanation-check. Associate it so many
times, it becomes an automatic habit with you to check every
time your setback happens. When you feel bad, you want it to
occur to you that you can do something about it.
Youre reading this chapter and thinking
this sounds like a great idea, and you cant wait to feel
bad so you can try it. A week from now youll realize you
havent caught yourself once. Setbacks have happened, you
explained them to yourself, and you went right on feeling bad
but never reflecting on the fact that you had any choice in the
matter. Then later youll look back and think, Oh
yeah, I was supposed to check my explanations.
But if you keep trying, you can do it.
Do you believe me? If you dont, or if you try and fail,
then check that explanation for this setback!
Keep trying. Make this something you focus
on for the next few months. Have a necklace made for yourself
that says, Check explanations every setback and wear
it around your neck. Write it on a card and carry it in your
pocket. Put it on the screensaver of your computer.
I dont mean do one of these things.
I mean do all of these things and anything else you can think
of. This is serious business. The way you explain setbacks determines
to a large extent how your life will turn out!
Make a sign that says, Check explanations
every setback and post it on your bathroom mirror, on the
dashboard of your car, on the refrigerator door. Put it in your
closet where youll see it every morning. Tell your son
to remind you of it every morning and youll give him a
dollar for reminding you. And try try try. You will fail a lot.
Each time you realize youve gone the whole day and didnt
once catch yourself explaining a setback, that itself is a setback,
so check right then how youre explaining it!
Every time you feel bad, write down what
youre thinking and argue with it. Thats how you form
A sluggish computer probably makes you
think, Its time to run a virus scan (clean your computer
of viruses and malware). In the same way, a negative emotion
should automatically make you think its time to clean your
mind of mistaken thoughts.
What is the first thing to do when you
feel a negative emotion? (Im quizzing you now.) Answer:
Clean your mind of mistaken explanations of setbacks. Do a virus
scan of your brain.
You dont really need to know anything
more about the antivirus for the mind. With what youve
learned so far, you can very effectively change your feelings
and accomplish your goals with more certainty. But a few more
pieces of information can make it easier.
Read the next chapter: Virus