When you are feeling down and sad, unwilling or unmotivated to continue, discouragement might have taken a grip of you. You might have just lost a business, or gotten turned down for a job. Maybe you’re not where you thought you’d be at this age or you’re overwhelmed by the amount of learning you have to do to reach your next goal. Whatever the reason may be for your discouragement, understanding where it comes from will help you deal with it and have it disappear from your life as fast as it came.
What causes discouragement?
There are many reasons why we feel discouraged. They include criticism, family troubles, financial problems, poor health, daunting tasks, perfectionism, comparing yourself to others, pessimism, feeling undervalued or under appreciated, or having faced rejection.
As Rick Warren states: When you are physically or emotionally fatigued things might seem bleaker than they really are. When you are frustrated and overwhelmed by the amount of tasks you must complete it’s easier to get discouraged. When something you’ve been planning or working on falls through and you think you’ve failed. When we’re afraid of what other people will think, or if we’ll be able to handle it.
H0w can we overcome discouragement?
Talk to someone. Vent your frustration with someone you trust and/or with a professional. Ask someone to help you look at the situation from a different perspective. Sometimes just shifting your focus and seeing the situation in a new light might give you the motivation and energy to keep going.
Give back to others. The gift of giving will help those who receive your gift but it’ll also help you feel good inside. The gift can be material but it can also mean giving someone your time and energy, or giving them a smile and a hug.
Be realistic. Distinguish between the things you can change and the things you can’t. For example, if you are feeling discouraged by the lack of progress you are making in learning to play a new instrument, realize that it takes time to be proficient at it. You might not be an expert in a couple of lessons but keep on practicing and you just might be the next master at your craft.
If your discouragement has come about because someone criticized you, before you let it get to you consider the source. Artist Nancy Doyle encourages us to ask ourselves several questions:
Does the person have training or experience? Is the person able to be objective? Does the person have a similar sensibility to me? How intelligent is this person? This goes both ways – if the person is intelligent, has training, has no axe to grind – perhaps some of what they are saying is true. We need to accept criticism without necessarily buying into it, or at least suspend our judgment. We need to consider it, over time, to see if there is anything we can gain from it. We can’t take it personally; we can’t feel that it renders us worthless as artists or people. If we look at it without our egos, we may glean great insight and help to make our work better.
Leonie Dawson, author and spiritual visionary, provides four powerful methods to beat discouragement. The first is to use the 5/5/5 Rule: ask yourself how much it is going to impact you in 5 days or 5 months or 5 years from now. The second is to remember your vision. Return to that place of knowing what is truly important to completing that which you have set out to do. And the third is to mend your wounds. Meet yourself where you are at right now. Not where you were before or where you hope to be, but right now in this very moment. Go outside and get a breath of fresh air. Treat yourself to a luxurious bath or a movie you’ve wanted to see. And lastly, bring in something new into your life. It could be a new class, a new hobby or a new friend.
In his blogpost Overcoming Discouragement, Scott H. Young encourages us to reward ourselves when we’ve attempted something, even if it failed:
Whenever you take steps outside your past limitations, either in conquering your fears, improving your skills or increasing your own willpower you must recognize and reward that victory even if the rest of the world won’t. When you reward attempts even when they aren’t successful you are signaling to your brain that taking there is value in attempting something that isn’t attached to a particular outcome.
Whatever the reason for your discouragement, the important thing is to recognize it for what it is and to take action to remedy it. Not doing so might lead to more serious consequences including depression and possibly even suicide for some. However, if you nip the problem in the bud you might just walk out of the situation happy and on the road to success.
Image courtesy of frisbee37.