Avoid defeatist thinking! Why? It is for those who want to be defeated!
Defeatist thinking means you assume you can’t improve the situation. It is an assumption; never a fact. And you are not replacing that assumption with another assumption. This is not an effort to convince yourself of a positive thought. You are merely leaving the question where it really is: You don’t know. When you truly don’t know, it is foolish to assume you’re helpless. It is unnecessary and self-defeating to decide something cannot be done.
During the Civil War, the situation seemed hopeless several times to the North, even though, of course, the North eventually won. But if you read the newspapers of the day, written by Northerners and published in Union newspapers, you might easily be persuaded to think there was no possible way the North would win. Lots of writers who ardently and desperately wanted the North to win nevertheless expressed their absolute certainty of losing. They were demoralized.
For example, an ardent Northern patriot, Joseph Medill of the Chicago Tribune, wrote, “We have to fight for a boundary — that is all now left to us.” In other words, winning the Civil War against the South was a lost cause. All that the North could hope for was to draw a boundary and let the Southerners form their own separate government.
“I can understand the awful reluctance with which you can be brought to contemplate a divided nation. But there is no help for it,” Medill wrote, “...complete success has become a moral impossibility.”
Medill’s demoralization was not his alone. During several trying periods, it was shared by a majority of people in the North. So many setbacks (combined with the explanations people made of those setbacks) had most Northerners convinced the war could not be won by the North.
Their certainty was premature, as we now know. Their pessimism was overdone, as it usually is.
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