The other afternoon I texted a friend.
I’m not sure where I’m headed right now career-wise, I shared.
Ugh. Are you feeling discouraged? Do you want to talk it through? She immediately responded.
Sure! I’m always up for a chat. I thought as I readied to reply. But discouraged? I paused to consider her word choice. Not at all.
Later, as I transitioned from speedy to slow, I seized the gap of time to again reflect on what she’d asked.
No, I’m not where I hope to eventually be.
No, things aren’t progressing as I’d imagined they’d be right now.
No, discouragement isn’t a feeling I’m struggling with.
Discouragement *had* plagued me in the past (hence my friend’s question).
As a result, I knew the only way to ensure I remained on my dejection-free path was to invest time in myself and map out how I’d overcome the feeling previously.
And, thanks to my morning pages, a blog post was born.
1. Why am I feeling discouraged?
I pose this question to myself and really consider it. I get close with the uncomfortable feeling and the why behind its origin.
I grab pen & paper (old school is best here) and brainstorm reasons behind why I’m feeling disheartened.
I write until I can’t think of another trigger for my feelings…and then I make myself come up with at least one more.
If I can’t identify the WHY behind my discouragement I can never change it.
list everything. nothing is too small.
2. I get honest.
Once my list is complete it’s time to examine item by item. This is when I ask myself the tough questions:
Is my feeling of discouragement because I feel I’ve let myself down? (how? in what manner? is this the first time? all details help!)
Is my feeling of discouragement because I believe others have let me down/not come through as promised? (had I been clear about what I’d wanted? had I confirmed my expectations for others were received/understood?)
After I’ve gone through each bullet point and asked myself “why, specifically, does this cause me to feel discouraged?” it’s time to step away from my list.
Literally and figuratively.
3. I examine the big picture.
I pause, remove personal ties to the situation as best I can, and consider what I’d ask a friend in this position.
- What part of this scenario could have (even accidentally) been set into motion by you?
- What can you learn from these feelings? Is there a silver lining of personal growth?
- What lessons/knowledge might you have gained along the way?
- How have you grown/changed for the better even if you’ve not achieved your goal/the situation isn’t “perfect?“
- Have you considered the discouragement feeling may come from the fact forward movement *is* happening just more slowly than anticipated?
More frequently than not, especially with the final two questions, this step facilitates my seeing the situation is not as bleak/discouraging as I’d thought.
4. I talk.
Pausing to map out how I’d overcome discouraged feelings in the past was an eyeopener. I’d not consciously been aware I even had a step #4 because it had become routine/habit. I harness the power of this final piece as sort of a farewell to feelings.
Thanks to steps 1, 2, & 3 I now realize, intellectually, I’ve no reason to feel discouraged. By the time I progress to step #4 (sharing my circumstances/feelings with others) I’m open and ready to hear fresh perspectives on my situation.
The addition of other people’s insights helps me permanently shift my own. My feeling of discouragement often stems from needing to change my perspective and talking/listening to different points of view helps.
I’ve yammered at these 2 for many 13.1 meetups.
My initial response to my friend’s text-question was to register surprise over the fact I wasn’t discouraged.
I possessed all the necessary facts and the entirety of the information clearly pointed to the fact I was nowhere near where I aspired to be.
Thanks to my now intuitive process, however, discouraged wasn’t a roadblock emotion for me.
I return to my steps. I do the work/discover my why. I arm myself with patience and a plan.
This recent time of reflection did clarify for me one final, pivotal thing:
Not only are feelings of discouragement temporary; success wont arrive without them.
Flashes of discouragement along the way are not setbacks.
These fleeting feelings of dejection are a rite of passage as we move forward toward goal achievement.
- When was the last time you struggled with feeling discouraged?
- What was your approach to pushing through/overcoming the feeling?