Discouragement is something even the most optimistic people feel from time to time. Things don’t go as we plan or hope. Opportunities disappear. We’re continually rejected in some way and we start to doubt ourselves. At worst we start questioning our own worth.
The next time you start feeling discouraged, try to give the emotion you’re feeling a name, and then try befriending it. Does it sound strange to befriend a “negative” emotion? Aren’t we taught that “negative” emotions are “bad” and you should just push them away or deal with them as little as possible? If we just calm down for a while, won’t those feelings pass and you can go back to being happy – or happier – than you were when you started feeling a “bad” emotion?
Emotions are not good or bad, they’re just emotions. Avoiding an emotion like discouragement won’t make it go away. But dwelling on it won’t ease its grip either. So how can you befriend this emotion and work through what you’re feeling?
- Name the emotion and remind yourself that feeling a full spectrum of emotions – both “good” and “bad” is normal.
- Accept what you’re feeling. Instead of trying to avoid or deny your discouragement, accept that you’re discouraged and let that sink in. Spend some time with what you’re feeling but don’t allow yourself to wallow. There’s a fine line between acceptance and avoidance – be sure you’ve truly accepted what you feel before moving on.
- Remember that yes, this too shall pass. Bring yourself back to the present moment and know that you won’t feel this way forever.
- Keep forward momentum going by doing one small thing to help you feel better. Take a walk, talk to a trusted friend, write in your journal, or take a short break but don’t become mired in inertia.
- Think about what you’re supposed to be learning from your discouragement. Though you may jump to conclusions such as “I’m not supposed to do X” or “I’ve failed and should give up on X”, try to step back and understand that you may instead need to change your approach, ask for assistance, or simply continue looking to meet new people or find new opportunities.
Handling discouragement can be tough, but by befriending this emotion, you have a better chance of understanding how to manage it, and ultimately what messages it may have for you. If however, you feel as though you’re not able to work through it either on your own or with the help of those who care for you, please seek professional help.
Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you and in the end you are sure to succeed.
– Abraham Lincoln