Whether we like it or not, there will be seasons in life when we will have to battle our way through discouragement. As along as we are alive, we’ll continue to face some intermittent episodes of discouragement, regardless of the level of our emotional intelligence, maturity, motivation or success.
When you find yourself on the verge of being overwhelmed by the unforeseen currents of discouragement, try the following tips to steady your ship and navigate your way back in the direction of happiness, progress and personal fulfilment:
1. Accept it. The first key to recovery from emotional stress is acceptance. You can never overcome a negative emotion you are unwilling to acknowledge. Therefore, you must fully accept the fact that you are discouraged.
The best way to enable your mind to adequately register your acceptance of your feeling of discouragement is to write down the way you feel. Make it clear on paper how discouraged you currently are, and how you struggle to rekindle the enthusiasm, passion and desire you first showed towards whatever you are discouraged about.
This kick-starts your recovery process. It is almost as if there is a miraculous energy that transfers from your wrist to your mind as you write down your experience. You start to feel better about your situation. The moment you decide to put your emotional challenges into writing, you obligate your deeper mind to become part of your solution-agent out of discouragement. Recognition is the first step towards recuperation. Writing down how you feel is also a very powerful therapeutic process for recovery.
"You can never overcome a negative emotion you are unwilling to acknowledge."
2. Believe it is temporary. The next step is to convince yourself that your episode of discouragement is only temporary. Believe that it has no permanent place in you. Although you might be down at the moment, have faith that you will climb back up and remain lifted into a place of happiness, success and fulfilment.
Do not catastrophize – making a mountain out of a molehill or focusing on the negative. Instead, simply believe that your discouragement is transient. Belief is creative energy. Whatever you believe within will eventually manifest without. In other words, what is happening around you is a physical expression of your inner beliefs.
This is why believing that your feelings of discouragement are not meant to break you. The moment you change your mind-set to positive, you are already on your way to gaining fresh energy, motivation and hope.
"Whatever you believe within will eventually manifest without."
3. Take some time out. Discouragement saps energy and generates perpetual fatigue. More often than not, when you are going through an episode of discouragement, your mind is constantly saturated with disempowering thoughts. This then makes it difficult for your mind and body to function effectively.
Therefore, do not increase your activities towards what you are discouraged about. Rather, step back and slow down your activities in order to restore your life-energy. Do not try to run off looking for something else to commit to in order to forget your feelings of disappointment. This is called avoidance, and it’s counter-productive.
If you are discouraged over a relationship that is not really progressing, for instance, do not blindly and hurriedly jump into another relationship, thinking it will help you get over your overwhelming feelings of brokenness of the previous relationship. This is a recipe for further emotional complications.
Rather, remove yourself from all self-efforts and personal struggles. Seek to connect back to your real-self in an atmosphere of calmness and solitude. Use your rest time to detach from frustration and anger. This can take a bit of time.
However, it can also be life-changing. Your mind needs rest to regain its motivation, strength and spirit of gratitude.
When you are fully rested, your decision making ability improves. You see things from a different angle. You are able to analyse things better. You troubleshoot better and identify better paths to lasting solutions. Rest restores. This is vital to your long-term emotional and psychological well-being.
4. Re-evaluate your original goals. While you are taking some time out, it can be a good time to review your life and begin to re-evaluate your original goals, desires, or ambitions. Whatever you are discouraged about, think about your first goals about that thing, and assess whether or not you have wandered away from your original desires.
I do this often during my moments of discouragement. I self-assess myself to see if I am still loyal to my original ideals. Be it in my business, relationships or about what I expect from others, I make sure I re-evaluate to see if I am still on the right track.
More often than not, I’ll identify one or two things to stop or start doing in order to get back on track. To me, seasons of discouragement are opportunities for self-examination. Disappointing times are seeds for self-discovery and development.
The key step here is to re-trace your steps back to your heart. Whenever we are discouraged over anything, it means change is necessary somewhere. It does not have to be a massive one.
Often times, it is just about correcting your course by making some slight adjustments to your current priorities. Constant self-evaluation is very vital to happiness, progress and fulfilment.
"Seasons of discouragement are opportunities for self-examination."
5. Feed your mind with motivational and inspirational messages. Your mind is like muscles. When you constantly expose it to positive mind exercises, it becomes stronger and more resilient against adversities.
Motivational and inspirational messages build up your mind muscles for optimism, positive energy, perseverance and hope.
Read motivational and inspirations books. Listen to audio programmes that inspire you. Turn you car into a mobile university. Saturate your mind relentlessly with messages of triumphs and success until there is no room any more for apathy, self-pity, negative thinking and discouragement.
Whenever I sense feeling of discouragement rising within me about something that really matters to me, I reach out for biographies of great men and women. I listen for their struggles, weaknesses, failures, and most importantly, how they eventually overcame. This is very powerful. If you develop this habit of learning from great achievers, you can never stay discouraged or depressed for too long.
"Motivational and inspirational messages build up your mind muscles for optimism, positive energy, perseverance and hope."
6. Brainstorm on possible way forward. By now, you are slowly getting your energy back and your mind is becoming clearer, with a steady sense of optimism rising on the inside of you. The next step is to take a sheet of paper and write down anything you can do that will lead to your heightened motivation, happiness and progress.
Write down at least 10 things you can do to link you back to the paths of strength and fulfilment. It is important that you re-focus and put fresh plans and ideas in front of you. Without a clear sense of direction, your re-emerging energy and newly found strength won’t last. You will not be able to maintain passion without a compelling action plan, going forward.
Ask yourself questions such as, “What do I really want in this area of my life? How can I achieve these things that I want? What action-steps can I start taking immediately that will begin to link me to my desired destination? What can I stop doing? When you begin to ask the right questions, your mind becomes programmed to come up with solutions.
"Without a clear sense of direction, your re-emerging energy and newly found strength won’t last."
7. Take action. This is the step that completes the transformation. Action! Action! Action!!! Ask yourself the following questions, What three things from my action-list can I begin to do now to orchestrate my transformation faster? What can I start doing immediately and if done well will make the most positive impact in my life?
You cannot overcome a feeling of discouragement while you are passive and remains lethargic. You will have to embarking in some positive actions. Intentional positive and progressive movement must take place. Progress has to be set in motion. If there is no progress or some kind of positive advancement on your part, discouragement cannot be shaken off.
Nothing shakes off discouragement faster than progress and the feeling of contributing and being needed. Before you can experience progress and a sense of positive contribution, positive action has to be initiated by you.
If you are not naturally ambitious, the best way to get back up during a period of discouragement is to engross yourself in acts of kindness. Volunteer somewhere. Help other people in some capacity by giving your time, energy and resources away without expecting anything back. In no time, the positive energy of kindness will renew your motivation and passion for life.
"An act of Kindness is one of nature’s best tranquillizers."
Every act of kindness that you execute is like a dose of anti-depressants without the side-effects. An act of Kindness is one of nature’s best tranquillisers. Kindness floods your system with serotonin, the body’s feel-good neurotransmitter. This enables you to feel a lot better about yourself. Your confidence begins to rise. Your self-esteem also increases.
If you can combine all the seven steps discussed in a spirit of gratitude, you will most certainly shake off discouragement and return back to being happily proactive. You’ll become more creative, hopeful and thankful about your purpose in life.
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