17 October 2015

The Strength of Discouragement

There are those people in the world who seem to think that things like discouragement are possible to banish from our lives, that it's somehow possible to go through life never feeling down, never feeling any negative feelings at all.  With all due respect to them, I'm sure that there are people on this planet whose brains never take them to a place at which they're discouraged, who do always feel positive.  But those people are quite rare, and their ability to think positively a gift that truly is remarkable.

The rest of us, though, face feelings like discouragement rather regularly.  And those feelings are strong.  It's incredibly difficult to save money for months in order to do something important, only to have the car break down, with the repair bill wiping out the savings.  It's very hard to search for a long time for work, only to be rejected time and time again.  There are so many situations in which discouragement is a factor that it's sometimes amazing that we don't feel it more than we do.

When it comes, it's incredibly strong.  Discouragement is so strong that it can cause other feelings to emerge, such as sadness, frustration, hopelessness, even depression.  It would be silly for us to deny the strength of discouragement, but it would also be very positive for us to think about what we can do when the feelings shows up in our lives.

When I get discouraged, the most important thing that I can do is to try to get a positive sense of perspective on the situation.  Something may be going wrong over and over again, but there are still many things going right--my discouragement often is a result of focusing only on the one or two things going wrong, while ignoring those things that are going right.  Of course I'm going to feel discouragement if I focus only on what's going wrong--that's the only thing I could feel.  So when I get discouraged, I try to remind myself that the area of discouragement is only one area of my life, and there are others that also deserve my attention.

Another thing that helps me work through discouragement is remembering lessons that I've learned from others.  The simple saying, "This, too, shall pass," is one of the most important sayings that I've ever heard, and it has helped me through many a difficult moment--because I truly believe it.  Months or weeks from now, the discouragement that I'm feeling today will be naught but a memory.  One of the reasons that I love quotations is because they give me lessons that are important to me.  When I'm discouraged, I can read short lessons about hope, perseverance, action, perspective, courage, and even discouragement, and realize that others have gone through situations much more trying than mine, and have come out fine.

If I'm discouraged about money, I need to find some sort of action that I can take to deal with money issues.  Perhaps for a certain time I'll lose my free time in order to work--as long as it's not permanent, it doesn't bother me at all to give up something in order to deal with other issues.  There are times when compromise is very important, and if it means that I need to take an extra job to deal with the discouragement, then I'll do so.  If I'm discouraged about relationships, then I need to re-evaluate my relationships and decide which ones are healthy, which are unhealthy, and which are neither, and give up those that are unhealthy while either strengthening or giving up those that are neither.  If I'm discouraged about my job, perhaps it's time to look for another one, or to look for another line of work entirely.

Discouragement is strong, and it's often difficult to deal with.  But it's not the end of the world, unless we allow it to be so.  When discouragement strikes you, strike back at it.  Don't wallow in it.

Develop success from failures.  Discouragement and failure
are two of the surest stepping stones to success.

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