Why Take a Negative Viewpoint?
LIKE a seemingly unscalable wall a negative viewpoint can often stand between you and the success of an undertaking. It can cause failure in something that you have the ability to do. There may be factors making it difficult for you to succeed at a task, but the chief factor against it can be yourself if you permit a negative viewpoint to discourage you. It is natural to have some doubts about your ability to do something, but it is a grave mistake to permit those doubts to get a hold on you so that you fail to put forth your best efforts. The influence of a negative attitude is so strong that even physical performance can be adversely affected by it.
A weight-lifting athlete, for example, may on one occasion succeed in pressing over his head a weight that is a record for him, but on another occasion he may fail to put it up because he approaches it with doubts. His strength seems to wane, making the weight feel too heavy. On the previous occasion he had a confident attitude, with the result that he seemed to be infused with strength, and the weight seemed to be light.
The athlete who competes in high jumping can experience the same enervating effect of a negative attitude. It can weaken him so that he is unable to leap over the bar when it is at a record or near record height for him. Such athletes put forth their best physical performance when they have a confident attitude, a feeling that they can reach the mark for which they are striving. Can this not also be true of you with the things you strive to do?
What is your attitude when your employer gives you a new work assignment or a position of greater responsibility? Do you react by thinking the job is too big for you? Are you assailed by doubts about your ability to handle the assignment to the extent that you feel inclined to tell your employer that you cannot handle the job? Do you allow a negative attitude to discourage you so that you are not even willing to try?
It is not surprising that doubts about your ability arise when you are offered a new position of responsibility, but it is a mistake to let them overwhelm you. Although you may feel incapable of filling the shoes of the man who had the job before you, because of his ability, experience and mental acuteness, you should not permit that feeling to become a barrier. Your employer does not expect you to be like him but wants you to do the best you can. He would not have offered you the position if he did not think you could handle it. Do not think about your shortcomings by comparing your ability and experience with the other man; consider your assets that qualify you for the job. Approach it with a positive attitude and with determination to put forth a wholehearted effort.
If you are a person who engages in activity that involves the interests of the Supreme Being, you can overcome the discouraging effect of negative thinking by keeping in mind that Jehovah’s spirit will strengthen you and help you to do what you may feel incapable of doing in your own strength. Fasten your mind on his promises to be with you and to strengthen you. What he told the Israelites can be considered as an assurance to you. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand of righteousness.” (Isa. 41:10) With faith in Jehovah, you can tackle your assignments with vigor and confidence. Trust in him can help you overcome a defeatist attitude. Did not Jesus say: “That expression, ‘If you can’! Why, all things can be to one if he has faith”?—Mark 9:23.
Your attitude toward an assignment has a great bearing on your success with it. Suppose you have been given an assignment to deliver a talk before an audience, something you may never have done before. Your first reaction may be negative. You might imagine that you cannot do it, that you would be speechless. That is the wrong attitude. Look at the facts. You have a tongue; you are able to speak the language; and you know something about the subject, otherwise you would not have been asked to speak. What stands in your way of speaking publicly but your negative attitude? Do not permit negative feelings to swallow you and kill any desire to try. Climb over that wall of negative thinking and make a wholehearted effort to speak publicly and to improve your ability by seeking training in public speaking. Make up your mind that, if others can do it, you can do it. Instead of saying, “I cannot,” or, “It is too much for me,” say, “I will try and will do the best I can.”
When the prophet Jeremiah was given an assignment to speak a warning to the kingdom of Judah, he reacted with a negative viewpoint, imagining that the task was too great for him. He said: “Alas, O Lord Jehovah! Here I actually do not know how to speak, for I am but a boy.” The assignment seemed like an insurmountable barrier to him. He felt defeated before he had even attempted to fulfill it. But God rebuked him for his negative attitude by saying: “Do not say, ‘I am but a boy.’ But to all those to whom I shall send you, you should go; and everything that I shall command you, you should speak. Do not be afraid because of their faces, for ‘I am with you to deliver you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Jer. 1:6-8) Jeremiah placed his trust in Jehovah and, with Jehovah’s spirit operating upon him, he was able to do what he at first thought he could not do.
When you are confronted with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, approach them with trust in God and with determination to put forth a wholehearted effort to surmount them. So doing, you will be better able to care for responsibilities, to achieve objectives, to overcome discouraging mishaps and to be of greater service to others. Keep in mind what the apostle Paul said: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.”—Phil. 4:13.