No. 333

Someone once said that discouragement is, “Often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.” We all get discouraged from time to time and if you happen to be discouraged just now, I have some good news for you. A while back I had a personal experience that clearly demonstrated the peril of negative overload. After all, isn’t this what discouragement is all about? We get so much negative news, whether real or perceived, that we begin to buckle under the load.
Before I share this personal experience with you, let me make sure we are on the same page. A good understanding of the word “overload” is critical in relation to the investment of your time in reading this column. Several years ago when electricity became available to most American households, the electric wiring went back to something we called a fuse box. I still remember those little fuses and the lever that you pushed to make contact after a fuse had blown and had to be replaced. What made the fuse blow was an excessive demand for electricity that exceeded the capacity of the wiring. Without the fuse blowing there was a good possibility that a fire would have been the result. In this case the demand caused the “overload” and that is the gist of the idea.
Here is what happened to me that caused a negative overload and remember, by and large, I am an extremely positive person. This goes back to September 11, 2001 when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Like all freedom loving Americans I was deeply saddened by the loss of life and especially for friends and family members whose lives would be changed forever. In the aftermath of this tragedy as our leaders began to make plans to bring those responsible to justice, I began to watch more television news coverage than I had ever watched in my life.
As the war in Afghanistan began to unfold and the bombing began, I became obsessed with all the coverage the 24 hour cable news networks (four here in our market) were giving the American people. You could watch it all day long if you chose to, but because of my schedule I could only watch it four to five hours each day, and this went on for several weeks. After a while I began to feel lethargic and my enthusiasm and zest for life began slowly ebbing away. Then one day it hit me and I realized what had happened. I was suffering from negative overload. The human mind and nervous system is just not designed for that much negative news.
At this point I changed my television viewing habits and made a very important decision. From that point on I have limited my news coverage about the ‘War On Terrorism” to reading the headlines and related stories in our local newspaper and 30 minutes of national news in the evening on one of our major network stations. I also want to report to you that I did not stop here. I dug out a set of attitude motivation tapes that I had left from the days when I was in that business.
I keep a cassette player by my bed and use these tapes to help me fall off to sleep. When I wake up during the night I just flip the tape over and listen to it for a while before going back to sleep. This has made a wonderful difference in my outlook on life and now that old zest and enthusiasm has returned. Now, if you are discouraged you may or may not be suffering from negative overload, but don’t be too sure. We live in a negative world and while you may not have gotten a megadose like I did, you have gotten it a little at a time over the past several years. It’s kinda like being nibbled to death by a duck, but the end result is the same. God bless America. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)