if I *had* a discouraged-face this might be it?
The other day I texted a friend.
I’m not sure where I’m headed right now career-wise, I shared.
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 mulled. Not at all.
Later, as I transitioned from speedy to slow, I seized the gap of time to consider 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 discouragement-free path was to invest time and map out how I’d overcome the feeling previously.
And, thanks to my morning pages, a blog post was born.
4 steps to overcoming feelings of discouragement:
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 it.
I grab pen & paper (old school is most productive here) and brainstorm reasons behind why I’m feeling disheartened.
I write until I can’t think of another cause for my feelings—-and then I make myself come up with 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 in my mind 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 your feelings 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 allows me to see my situation is not as bleak/discouraging as I’d thought.
4. I talk.
Taking time to map out how I overcome discouraged feelings was an eyeopener. I’d not consciously realized I completed step #4 because it had become routine/habit. I harness the power of this final step as sort of a farewell to feelings. Thanks to steps 1, 2, & 3 I realize, intellectually, I’ve no reason to feel discouraged. By step #4–sharing my situation/feelings with others–I’m open and ready to hear their perspective on my situation.
The addition of other people’s insights helps me permanently shift my own. My feelings of discouragement often stem needing to change my perspective and talking/listening to different points of view helps.
I trapped these women for a 13.1 mile talk.
Initially my reaction to my friend’s text-question was surprise over the fact I wasn’t discouraged.
I had all the information in front of me and it all indicated I wasn’t where I aspired to be.
The thing is, thanks to my process, I don’t struggle with feeling discouraged.
I do my steps. I do the work to discover my why. I arm myself with patience and a plan.
More than anything, however, this time of reflection helped me realize one final thing:
Not only are feelings of discouragement temporary–no one has been successful in life without experiencing them.
Regardless how one defines “success” flashes of discouragement on the way are not setbacks.
These fleeting feelings are simply 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?
Coco saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 4:19 am
Great process! I tend to just keep pushing through. NPR has had some interesting stories about failing/failure revealing that it’s really just a step on your way to success.
Bea saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 4:46 am
Recently I have found myself feeling discouraged about so much and so many areas of my life.
I just can’t seem to break the cycle. My way is not working I will try yours.
Pamela Lutrell saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 5:01 am
I needed this today, Carla!! Thanks so much…and I love the Elliot quote!
Allie saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 5:03 am
Talking it out ALWAYS helps although I confess I do not always do it! I often have eye-opening conversations with a friend who is not in my running/blogging/writing world and has a VERY different perspective which is usually just what I need!
Lizzie saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 5:13 am
I wonder if a lot of times I am not ready to look at the big picture. I have trouble seeing or admitting what role I may have played in my feelings.
Alana saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 5:22 am
I felt discouraged many times last year when my husband and I had to downsize my mother in law to move her to a smaller place. Soon after she put her house on the market she was told she needed a heart valve replacement. We were doing this from 150 miles away, and things kept going wrong. It finally all came together and it was amazing how we got help from a couple of unexpected sources. Next time I will use some of your suggestions. It will make a difference! (I am going to add this post to my weekly blog roundup on Sunday, so others can benefit).
Leanne saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 5:33 am
I think self doubt is something our generation grew up with. We’re learning how to deal with it, but it still sneaks up occasionally and has to be put in its place. I think our daughters are more confident than we are and that’s a really good thing!
michelle saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 5:40 am
I need to bookmark this and refer to it often. This is awesome. And helpful! I LOVE helpful blog posts!!!
Hannah saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 5:50 am
When I feel discouraged I usually see it as someone else holding all the control.
I’m trying and getting no where because it’s someone else’s fault.
Really interesting post and something I think I needed to see.
Linz @ Itz Linz saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 5:58 am
i just wrote today how i keep saying i need to get better at meal prepping…. and then i don’t. i’ve definitely been discouraged by that, especially when it means i have to eat out more often. while it tastes good it’s not budget or belly friendly 🙂
Pamela Hernandez saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 6:15 am
Umm…yesterday. 🙂 My book hasn’t sold as well as I had hoped. It is discouraging but I have to remind myself that I DID IT. I have to step back and think about what did go right and what I need to change for the next launch. I asked for feedback from others to see what I was missing and it really helps.
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 6:35 am
I needed this today, Carla. Recently, I am dealing with a lot of discouragement. Yes, there are so many things that are going so well in my life, but I still feel a bit lost (job, fertility, healing my injury).
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 6:44 am
Yesterday. Just talking to my 18 year old can summon up all kinds of negative feelings, not the least of which is discouragement. I have to stop asking myself, where did I go wrong? And hope that he’ll get it one of these days.
Kara saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 6:56 am
It seems really simple and obvious, but I tend to hide when I’m feeling discouraged. I need to remember to talk.
Sarah Hughes saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 6:59 am
Love this!! Arming ourselves with patience and a plan is a great idea. I think it helps focus which helps motivate and encourage
Terri saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 6:59 am
Love this! I love the old school of pen and paper and the questions that you asked yourself. Those are hard questions, but the insights and perspective that their answers revealed were so rich. Perspective, I know I need a daily check-up sometimes on looking at situations from different angles. I love the quote, and the thought of embracing discouragement as part of the journey. I sometimes remind myself to look back at where I was last June and all the things I have learned in a short period of time.
Great post, thank you for sharing your process and insights.
Diane saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 7:05 am
Great Post. I would add PRAYER. Sometimes our plans are not God’s plans for us. Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps”. I am always talking to God about everything, whether I am on the right path, should I enter a new path, or change the direction of the path I am on. It helps me with discouragement because looking back over my life, I see now that God always had a plan. I just didn’t always know what it was.
Elle saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 8:01 am
I have always been a list maker – pros, cons, needs, wants. I tend to sort it all out by myself. Talking with others is rarely part of my process – it would be my husband if anyone.
Good food for thought and suggestions here.
Rena McDaniel saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 8:19 am
I just keep plowing ahead until I am at a place where I can sit and think about it. I need to start “morning pages”. I keep saying I’m going to but I stay so busy..no excuse!
Jody - Fit at 58 saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 8:31 am
Going to read & reread! I am definitely discouraged… Not new to me but this time harder being at this age. I don’t talk to much to friends about it.. at times overwhelming.. again, time to reread this!
GiGi Eats saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 9:02 am
You know what’s interesting? In LA… I sort of forgot what discouragement is because this industry is ALL about rejection. I celebrate the SMALL successes which always encourage me to KEEP ON TRUCKING! People think too LARGE when really they need to simply set themselves up for happiness with LITTLE GOALS every day!
WOO WOO I woke up this morning!
Cathy Chester saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 9:45 am
Thanks, Carla. I needed this list. Discouraged, well, yup. Sometimes (depending on the day) so thanks!
TriGirl saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 10:18 am
Like a lot of your readers I feel discouraged *right now*. Moving to a new city, from a house to a small apartment, to no real job prospects while having to wait on state paperwork to even be qualified to work here, to the movers losing half my wardrobe…I know I’m fortunate in so many ways but all these things are, well, discouraging.
cheryl saysFebruary 26, 2016 at 7:47 am
WIth a teacher/SLP shortage all over California, you would think they would get their heads out of you know where to get people hired more easily…hope things turn around for you soon. (Arizona is the same way, we have huge SLP shortages and tons of requirements….lame!)
Stephanie Weaver, MPH saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 10:45 am
I love your posts, they always seem to come through just when I need them. Thanks!
Erica saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 10:51 am
This post couldn’t have been more timely for me. I have had periods of discouragement since I graduated from high school. Now, 4 university degrees later and several different careers under my belt and I struggle with it even more. My biggest problem is focusing on what exactly my goal is and figuring out how to get there…
Laurie @ Musings, Rants & Scribbles saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 11:31 am
Thank you, Carla. All great suggestions.
Fancy Nancy saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 11:40 am
LOVE Elizabeth Elliot! I have felt discouraged in the past and have ignored it. I felt like there was nothing I could do so I would just plug along until the feeling passed….obviously not the best solution!! This post is great and gives me real steps for when it comes bubbling back up!
Erin @ Erin's Inside Job saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm
These are all great tips! Not everyone takes the time to step back and look at the root cause of feelings or even identify the feeling itself. It’s much easier to gloss over it or do something to escape what’s really going on, but that won’t ever help solve the actual problem. Great post Carla!
Tamara saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 1:17 pm
I love your process. And think it could also be applied to many other ‘less than positive’ feelings. This past week I heard psychologist speak on the topic ‘The link is what you think’, reminding us that although we often behave as if events lead directly to feelings, there’s an opportunity between the two to stop, think, re-frame and re-direct.
I’m glad you’re not feeling discouraged. You have so many gifts to give the world!
Alissa saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 1:19 pm
In the last year, I have learned that mindset is everything. If I’m feeling discouraged, it’s because I’m not looking at the situation with a positive energy. Negative energy will get me nowhere. If I shift my focus, I no longer feel discouraged but often feel like I have gained important life-experience and knowledge. Introspection is so important.
lindsay Cotter saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 1:23 pm
yes, i know this all too well. I think the biggest lesson i’ve learned is to take time to respond. You are so right. Write it down. Let things sink in and then arm yourself with a plan!!
Carol Cassara saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 1:44 pm
The talk part really works for me. Somehow, the act of saying it aloud to someone else and bumping that idea off them, the right person, a trusted person, helps me so much
Brianne saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 1:55 pm
Talking for me is key!!! These are great tips and I will definitely be putting these to use!
Beth Havey saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 2:25 pm
Thanks, Carla. I have had to rework the first chapter of my novel so many times. But I need to remember that I planted in faith and not doubt that the right version IS IN THERE SOMEWHERE. Beth
Jessica saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 3:04 pm
No need to be discouraged anyway. You rock!
messymimi saysFebruary 24, 2016 at 7:02 pm
Right now i am a bit discouraged about something to do with my business, and you’ve given me some great steps to take in dealing with it. Thank you!
ACKTIVE LIFE saysFebruary 25, 2016 at 5:44 am
I have been feeling discouraged this past week with Social Media…I have been busting my butt, but yet my numbers seem to be going in the wrong direction. I am trying not to get discouraged, but talking it out with myself and my tribe. To disconnect and walk with the pup, and just to keep on trucking and staying positive!
Kate saysFebruary 25, 2016 at 8:03 am
Jess @hellotofit saysFebruary 25, 2016 at 9:07 am
Talking it out always helps me 🙂 helps me get my thoughts out, and also hear other perspectives. Sometimes, I need to get out of my head!
Andrea saysFebruary 25, 2016 at 9:11 am
Carla – sometimes I wish you lived in my head. Or that I lived in yours. I needed this thought process today. Somedays feeling discouraged just sort of swells beneath the surface until tears strike or something strange like that happens. And then I pretend, oh, no, I didn’t expect it at all. And yet. I did. Thank you for sharing this. I wish I lived near you – I’d hug you. Immediately.
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday saysFebruary 25, 2016 at 9:59 am
This is excellent advice. It’s so tempting to shrink away from feelings of discouragement, but it’s so much more educational to face them head-on. Love your process!
cheryl saysFebruary 26, 2016 at 7:37 am
Perspective IS everything…when I was married to a guy who would not engage at all to be a family by participating as a father, husband, friend, I kicked him out-literally put his belongings on the back patio to pick up one day while we were out. It’s all about seeing that there are choices and that adventure is just around the corner even tho there might be some tough times ahead. Choices, choices, choices… I was also discouraged with my former school district for not re-hiring me after 30+ years of service as a part-time retiree. I bailed, wrote that letter that I would never work for them again, and immediately got a job that I LOVE in another school district. Things happen for a reason…embrace that.
Mary Jane Bruce saysFebruary 26, 2016 at 1:27 pm
Usually I deal with discouragement by diving into a bowl of M&M’s. This looks like a better plan. 🙂
Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table saysFebruary 26, 2016 at 10:56 pm
I really like the point about the big picture and planting seeds. My discouragement is all to often bourne from impatience. I am NOT a patient person.
Ask Helen saysFebruary 27, 2016 at 9:35 pm
Loved it! I came across your post just when I needed it the most. Your articles are awesome! Hope to read more from you 🙂
Deborah saysFebruary 27, 2016 at 10:46 pm
I like the idea of taking time before responding cos I’m the sort of person who can sometimes be careless with words. I’ll say something because I want to respond quickly but it’s not always exactly what I mean. I usually think I can share ‘better’ via writing than speaking but suspect that’s not always the case.
That notion of stopping and thinking about your thoughts and feelings is something I need to better adopt!
Chad saysFebruary 28, 2016 at 6:18 pm
Keep your spirits up … things are bound to get better because they just have to…!
Julie @ HappinessSavouredHot saysFebruary 28, 2016 at 8:21 pm
Thank you Carla, I needed to read this today! When stuck in a rut, uncertain or discouraged, I tend to analyze and over-intellectualize, but it does not always yield the answers I need. In such cases, I just stop the whole thinking process, and allow myself some time to let it all simmer. Answers come in their due time.