A friend asked me the other day about what I do when I get discouraged. So, first, I want to say that being human, I get discouraged at times. Things don’t go the way I’d like them to; I try very hard to attain a goal or finish a project, and despite my best efforts, I fail. Then I get discouraged and start to think about all the other things I haven’t done well lately, and all the things I’ve failed at in the past, and all the things I’m going to do badly in the future, and so on. Then I get even more discouraged. My motivation deserts me, my general attitude of optimism disappears and is replaced by grumpiness, and the people around me tell my I cuss a lot more. That’s when I know I’m in trouble.
I can’t say how long this lasts because some times it’s a few moments and sometimes it’s a few days. It depends on what else is happening around me, how quickly I notice, and how quickly others around me notice. And, honestly, it depends on how much I want to do something about it. Some days I really enjoy wallowing in self-pity — it sounds so bad when I say it like that — and I really want to stay there in the middle of it for a while. So once I’ve decided that I am doing just that and want to do something else, here’s what I do:
I start by using my support system. I have the most amazing business partner. She is caring and supportive when she needs to be, and she also knows when to pull out all the stops and just cut through all of my arguments and set me back on the right path. She is also great at reminding me of all the things I do well, helping me to counteract all the things I think I’m doing wrong. I also have a great husband who believes in me and encourages me when I start to get down about my circumstances. He is great about asking what I need in that moment, and then doing just that. I also have a wonderful group of friends and family who support me when I ask. The thing is I need to ask. Once I decide to reach out, there’s someone there to meet me.
After support, I usually need to spend some time remembering all the good things in my life. Life isn’t so discouraging when I remember to be grateful for what I have. Discouragement is feeling like things aren’t very good, which is almost never the truth. Some things are bad, and I allow those things to color everything else, so I try to do just the opposite and remember all the other things, too. This allows me to reassess my goals and ask myself if I’m going in the right direction. Sometimes I’m not and that’s why I feel so discouraged, and other times I simply need to see that I’m in the middle of the ride and I’ve missed a few of the mile markers, and it only feels like I’m heading in the wrong direction.
Then, I give myself a break. I take some time to relax and take care of myself. I love a good massage or a long walk to refresh and come back to the problem with a new perspective. I call it “hitting the reset button” like on a computer, and I really allow myself to reset.
Finally, I come back to the thing that is making me feel discouraged with all of this new information and perspective and I tackle it anew. I do this consciously and when I know I have plenty of time to complete what I start. I use my creativity and my determination and all of my other good qualities to turn my discouragement around and see it through a new lens and do something differently. Even if I’m not successful at changing the problem I started with, I’m in a good place to make decisions that work for me now.
If you’re feeling discouraged about something in your life, you might try some of these, and maybe you have a few good ideas of your own. I like to be reminded that discouragement is part of the process, and it allows me to grow and change. I don’t particularly like it, but it’s necessary, and I usually like the outcome!