“Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong from the weak.”
– Thomas Carlyle
Have you ever reached a point where you were disheartened and discouraged? Where you just felt like you couldn’t do it, it was impossible, it would never happen despite your best efforts?
Come on, it happens to all of us at one time or another.
“Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage.”
– Neal A. Maxwell
“Discouragement is universal, it’s everywhere.”
– Charles Stanley
There are 5 truths about discouragement:
- It’s everywhere
- It’s recurring
- It’s contagious
- It’s unpredictable
- It’s temporary
Everywhere – it’s in every culture, some more than others. It affects every age and if we give in to the discouragement it can lead to depression.
Recurring – It happens numerous times in our lives. Sometimes it recurs more often in a specific area, one that we struggle with. If we don’t develop a coping technique to battle against it, it can stop us from going further, and keep us trapped in a pit of despair.
Contagious – Debbie Downer can easily infect those around her with her pessimistic poison, offering up her personal brand of discouragement of why this or that won’t work as well as offer personal life examples from experience. Don’t be the Debbie Downer- mind your tongue and guard what you are saying lest you discourage yourself as well as others.
Unpredictable – It happens when we least expect it. After a victory there is usually a let down, don’t let the let down lead to a disappointment. Sometimes you’re sailing along smoothly then the engine sputters and chokes, then WHAM! Suddenly you’re sidelined and discouraged.
Temporary – This is a key point here, to keep in mind that it is indeed temporary. Circumstances are always subject to change. This too shall pass.
“Most folks are as happy as they want to be.”
If you’re discouraged, you can’t make things happen. You can’t even help yourself.
Stop wallowing in the mud like a pig!
“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”
– Dale Carnegie
Two ways we deal with Discouragement:
- From the inside out – our minds, our thoughts, naval gazing , self scrutinizing, and feeling inadequate and incapable.
- From the outside in – our circumstances. You know – you just got the car paid for and it gets wrecked. You get a tax refund and your refrigerator goes out. You work really hard doing your very best and don’t get a promotion.
“In spite of everything I shall rise again, I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement – I will go on with my drawing.” – Vincent Van Gogh
I am a survivor! I’ve made it through many things. The things I’ve survived have shaped me into the person I am today. We grow stronger through trials, through the troubles. We learn through our adversities.
Common causes of discouragement:
- self pity: we feel sorry for ourselves when life isn’t fair, when life mistreats us, when people aren’t nice to us, or even when we fail ourselves. Don’t give into the pity party!
- things don’t happen on our time table: we set deadlines, we set absolute points where X has to happen and sometimes they are unrealistic self imposed deadlines that are beyond our control in the first place. Unreal expectations about something that is outside our realm of influence is a perfect setup for discouragement.
- Unrealistic standards: I know I am guilty of this. We set standards on ourselves that are so far above what is obtainable, or set goals that are not realistic, or set our sights on the top prize and ignore all the ladder rungs between here and there.
- comparing ourselves to others: I am never going to be a lead singer like Ann Wilson. I admire her, her strength, her voice is phenomenal, she is one talented woman. However I am not her – that is her path not mine. It is never going to do any of us any good to compare ourselves to others because we have to be ourselves and follow our own individual path.
- not getting our way: you know, sometimes it’s a good thing that we don’t get everything we want. Sometimes, all our discouragement is more akin to a temper tantrum from a spoiled child that didn’t’ get their way.
- spreading yourself too thin: too many irons in the fire can indeed wear you down, and make it impossible to do well in any area because you are simply stretched too thin.
- facing a defeat: setbacks happen. It is a rare individual that never meets with defeat at some point or other. Defeat in one battle does not lose the war. Laying down and surrendering guarantees failure. We often lay down and wave the white flag after a defeat instead of regrouping and getting back in the proverbial saddle and trying again. Sometimes, your best laid plans fall apart — the deal falls through — no one shows up to the event. How do you react? As one man said, “Just when I think I can makes ends meet — somebody moves the ends! That’s discouraging!
- illness: while ill we are simply incapable of doing what we normally do. Injury does the same thing. We have to take time to allow our bodies to heal. The human body is an amazing creation, when we take care of it. Quit constantly looking at what you can’t do now while you are ill, injured, or recovering. Instead focus on what you can do, even if it is a small thing – embrace that small thing and you’ll realize that you are capable of more gradually.
- self assessment: when we take inventory of who we are, and what we are we often come to the conclusion that we don’t like the person staring back at us in the mirror. Instead of lamenting how horrible you are focus on the aspects that you can change. I am currently incapable of physically doing the things I could do a little over a year ago. I’ve lost muscle tone, strength and the ability to do normal things without pain. I’ve been focused on these points of what I couldn’t do for quite a while and just wallowing in the discouragement. Recently I took a fresh look at it and realized that I am still capable of some things so I’ve done those things. This gives me encouragement, and a little encouragement lifts us up out of our pit of despair.
- fatigue: When you’re physically or emotionally exhausted, you’re a prime candidate to be infected with discouragement. Your defenses are lowered and things can seem bleaker than they really are. This often occurs when you’re halfway through a major project and you get tired.
Remember also that if you are struggling with this, seek out a friend or family member to talk to or even a counselor. Don’t give in to the discouragement, even if you need a hand up – get up and move on. There’s sunshine after the storm has passed.
Write on my friends, write on and don’t let discouragement keep you down.
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