Three Psychic Viruses

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A virus is an infective agent that multiplies only within the living cells of a host. It cannot survive on it’s own. These three psychic viruses can multiply within you causing distress and disease if not kept in check. We often mistake these viruses as agents from outside of us, but they only survive by what we do inside. 

These three psychic virus are as common as the common cold. Are these viruses active in you and your life? How often? Just as in our physical body, a virus can be inside but not active and reappear in times of stress. Does that fit for you?

Note: This article was in the drafts section of my blog, which I rarely look at, waiting to be posted since 2016. I no longer remember what inspired it.

© NIck LeForce
All Rights Reserved


Complaints express what we don’t like or don’t want in life. The underlying skill, our capacity to notice what we like and what we don’t like, provides a guide in life and can help us to find fulfillment. It’s appropriate to lodge complaints when there is a genuine desire to improve the situation and it’s done respectfully. Complaints become viral when they are expressed for other reasons: to garner sympathy, to give excuses or cover personal faults, etc. Complaints are psychic viruses because they require fault-finding and focus on the negative, which is actually not the natural tendency of attention.

How to work with complaints in yourself and others:

  • Find positive intention behind the complaint

  • Use hidden values as a guide for your own behavior

  • Transform the complaint into a request


Worry occurs when we dwell on difficult or troublesome matters, particularly on the potential negative consequences or on possible future catastrophes. Researchers have found that the vast majority of worries either never come about or the outcome is not as severe as was imagined. Worry becomes viral when it turns into a habitual way of thinking and generates internal stress, when you can’t stop ruminating about things, and when you live primarily from fear.

How to work with worry in yourself and others:

  • Find positive intention behind the worry

  • Sort for the positive values behind the worry

  • Use fear as a start point in a strategy

  • Create alternative futures

  • Create a future problem solver


It’s natural to have doubts and to questions matters at times. Healthy skepticism is often appropriate because scam artist will feed on the trusting and the gullible. Cynicism becomes viral when it twists doubt and skepticism into a dark art by putting a negative spin on almost all events, judging others harshly, and assuming the worst in people. A key ingredient in cynicism is a psychological stance of superiority or a set of high, often impossibly high, standards. The cynic is steeped in disappointment about life, the world, and others.

How to work with cynicism:

  • Find the positive intention behind the cynicism

  • Sort for the hidden values cynicism reveals

  • Identify the (often hidden) criteria or standards

  • Shift to sorting for “what’s right” rather than what’s wrong

  • Count your blessings

 Notice that all three psychic viruses are derivative from an attitude of pessimism. Optimistically oriented people tend to think of themselves as “optimists.” Pessimistically oriented people do not generally think of themselves as “pessimists,” but as “realists,” meaning that they believe the see the world as it is. Evidence is in their favor, indicating that pessimists are better at predicting outcomes than optimists. But optimists are happier, more fulfilled in life, and generally more successful. Pessimism is not an issue in itself, except when it cycles into internal loops that both eat away at you and syphon off your life energy, like a virus. The “cures” suggested above also have some common features as well: 1. discerning the positive intention behind complaints, worries, and cynicism; 2. sorting out the positive values they operate on; and then 3. using those two factors to begin to reframe the concern.

I think an interesting study would be to determine which of the two suffers more from disappointment. If pessimists are more “realistic,” you would think they are less likely to be disappointed. But I suspect the opposite is true. An optimist would likely consider a “disappointment,” not as a let-down, but as a gift and, if adversely effected, get over it quickly. A “pessimist” might ruminate on it, go into a tailspin over it, and focus on the negative consequences from it.