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?
Annmarie saysAugust 28, 2017 at 4:30 am
Love your words of wisdom. I was recently feeling discouraged with blog stuff but after processing it and talking it through, I dug my feet in deep with other projects that deserved more of my time and energy.
Allie saysAugust 28, 2017 at 5:41 am
I find the key for me is always to figure out the WHY…and it’s sometimes harder than I anticipate. I’ve had a lot of struggles with training this past year and having to deep dive into my “why” has been good and bad… Obviously good friends/ husbands to talk it though with always helps!!
Marcia saysAugust 28, 2017 at 5:49 am
It’s so interesting in the digging process I’ll often find a nugget that seems trivial, yet is setting the whole discouragement thing in action.
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysAugust 28, 2017 at 6:45 am
Earlier this year, I was really discouraged as I struggled with my diagnosis of RA. I don’t ever remember crying so much in my life! Everything was hard–work, running, you name it. I felt lost, adrift. I took a 5 week leave of absence to rest and heal, but what also happened is that I was able to clear my head. I didn’t do a formal thought process like you, but having time to sort everything out was more helpful than anything.
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au saysAugust 28, 2017 at 8:39 am
I don’t get as discouraged as I used to – I think life is simpler atm so it doesn’t get me down as much. I will admit to feeling down when the adult kids ignore me – but it’s par for the course and I usually get over myself pretty quickly these days.
Haralee Weintraub saysAugust 28, 2017 at 8:40 am
I like this a lot Carla. A real Lot!! I was feeling discouraged by project piling up and anxious over deadlines. What I really was feeling other people’s anxiety about the deadlines and had to set priorities of time management and poof, no more discouragment!
Renee saysAugust 28, 2017 at 8:44 am
Great Post Carla! We know by now our discouragement does not last…we just need to move through it and come out on the other side…
firstname.lastname@example.org saysAugust 28, 2017 at 9:03 am
Wonderful post Carla. I think this will help a lot of people!
Jacqui S saysAugust 28, 2017 at 9:15 am
Love this post! I know I am feeling discouraged myself. Primarily because I’ve been laid off since April and have only had a handful of interviews. I am a single mom, so I know until my business can sustain me, I do need a job. But I’m at that in between of being too qualified for certain jobs and less qualified for others. I’m doing a career change and I do not want to go back into an entry level position if I can avoid it. But I like the idea of listing everything. Maybe my feelings aren’t coming from where I think they are.
Rena saysAugust 28, 2017 at 5:33 pm
I love how you intelligently figure things like this out. I’m like I’m discouraged give me wine! I’m positive your way is better.
cheryl saysAugust 28, 2017 at 6:18 pm
Well with a caseload of over 60 kiddos, parent meetings to schedule, individual educational programs to write, data to enter on a weekly/daily basis, lessons to plan for ALL these kids, trying to find time to spend time with my own and still get at least a 30 min. workout in a day…the revolving door of other people’s children and the demands the public school system put on me year after year, always more and something “new” each year-I was frequently discouraged. But I pushed through and did the best I could with what energy I had. I touched many kids’ lives (and the adults in them) and made many life-long friends through my career. The discouragement goes away-the other stuff stays with you forever (thankfully!)
messymimi saysAugust 28, 2017 at 7:18 pm
Discouragement tells me what to work on.
Jody - Fit at 59 saysAugust 28, 2017 at 7:43 pm
It always comes back to me – I know that for sure….
Coco saysAugust 28, 2017 at 9:46 pm
You always have such great perspective and such a positive outlook!
MCM Mama Runs saysAugust 28, 2017 at 9:54 pm
Great perspective. I haven’t quite hit discouraged yet – I seem to be sitting firmly in “confused” right now.
Bette saysSeptember 1, 2017 at 4:18 am
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Deborah saysSeptember 7, 2017 at 5:47 pm
I’ve been having a bit of a crisis of confidence in my professional life of late. (Well, for the past few months.)
I think that might be about to change but I’m not sure. Like you I kinda ‘write’ it out. I blogged (and vlogged) about feeling unfulfilled. Kind of a way of working through my feelings. And then I wrote about my values…. my need for financial security (ie more money) and my need for freedom and creativity (not necessarily a day job). It gave me the chance to work through my options and – in some ways – make a call in terms of what I want / need and what I could cope with if I had to.
It may involve me briefly going back into full time work – which is something I’ve not wanted to do – but I’ve applied for something short-term (well 1yr) which would give me a buffer financially but also give me a time limit so I know the end is again near and I need to plan for a more frugal and creative life. (If that makes sense!)
Farrah saysSeptember 15, 2017 at 10:16 pm
Great post! I definitely feel like this sometimes and go through a similar mindset of trying to dissect out what the root of the problem is and how I can fix it. It really helps sometimes to just talk it out!