7 Ways to Overcome Discouragement

by Feb 8, 20190 comments


There are times in our lives, and/or in various situations in our lives, when everything seems to be going wrong and no matter how hard we try we feel as if we can’t catch a break! Sometimes we handle these situations well, but other times it feels as if they are coming at us fast and thick and we feel we are drowning: our teenagers are acting out, our spouse just got retrenched, a colleague is gossiping about us and undermining us at work, our beloved relative just got the news that she has cancer and our friend is fighting with us – it feels as if anything that can go wrong, will!  Or we have a serious health challenge – an auto-immune disease or cancer, and we have been doing everything in our power to get better but instead, have contracted a secondary infection.

Sometimes in life, we just get tired and weary of trying to carry the can, sort things out and trying to make them better.  Discouragement starts overtaking us – we don’t believe God remembers us, we feel alone, forgotten, useless, angry, tired and fed up.  We have run out of solutions and we have run out of energy and optimism.  Many of us have felt this over infertility, a nasty break-up or divorce, an intense struggle our child is going through or even our own inability to reach a goal or get to a point where paying the bills doesn’t feel like an uphill battle.  It’s funny how hard times often to come in 3s …. Or 5s or 7s!


What can we do to help ourselves stay up in these difficult times?


1. Avoid all negative and insensitive friends, colleagues and relatives.


One of the things that I have learned during this time is that well-meaning but insensitive people can make you feel 100 times worse and to be around them can often be the last straw.  People who are always gloomy, or always feel the need to jump in with their own sob stories when you are trying to talk about yours, only pull you further down.

People who are insensitive and advise you or correct you endlessly can make you feel even more discouraged, alone and inadequate so avoid them also.  Most of us are as intelligent as the person next to us, and in most cases their marvelous input is something we have already tried, and we don’t need to sit patiently and listen to a lecture on our inadequacies or on how we should try what we have already tried that hasn’t worked!

Instead, seek out gentle and encouraging friends who simply care for you, will let you vent sometimes and  who remind you of your good qualities.


2. Try to read some upbuilding and encouraging literature or listen to some motivating videos each day.

Some people have the knack of empathizing while helping you to get yourself up; Joel’s Osteen’s books such as ‘Blessed in the Darkness’ are a good example of this.  It is a Christian book and will give all people of any faith some vision and hope without making you feel like a failure because you are down.  Abraham Hicks has a New Age spirituality and for all belief systems, these videos have some useful information on how to talk yourself up when you are down, without being an annoying ‘Pollyanna’ to yourself.


3. Write out every day what you have accomplished in your life – from the small to the big. 


For example, I completed my Master’s degree, have looked after my skin well, held my temper in traffic this week and baked fantastic muffins.  Focusing on what you have done right can also help you to see and remember your strengths and skills as well as what has gone well.

You can also write a gratitude list every day – sometimes when money is tight, it’s useful to write: ‘ate three good meals today’, or when your health is low, it’s great to remember ‘I loved sitting in the sun today and feeling the warmth on my skin.’  Many very successful people like Oprah advocate these techniques.


4. JournaLing can also help.

Author Julie Cameron who wrote “The Artists Way” advocates writing 3 A4 pages each day without vetting or judging your writing or what you are saying.  This sometimes helps you isolate a pattern that you are engaged in that is tripping you up, or get rid of the noise in your head, or even helps you unblock creative blocks.


5. Silence the critic and feed the supporter


Each of us has a voice inside us that loves to tell us that we aren’t enough or aren’t lovable, significant or worthy.  I found writing out what this voice is saying and then trying to isolate whose voice this is – a past critical teacher, a well-meaning but judgmental parent or your own voice fearful of letting you fail.  Once you isolate what the voice is saying and who the source was, it often frees you.   At the same time, feed the voice that supports you.  Remind yourself of your strengths and things you have overcome in the past, deliberately spur yourself on with a good memory or a good affirmation or truth about yourself can also help.


6. If doing some of these things doesn’t help or makes you feel worse, go to therapy.

Therapists are qualified to help you through slumps, are confidential and non-judgmental.  They can really help you to isolate what is going on and start to get up again.  Why suffer if you don’t need to?  Therapy can help you grow, mature and heal faster than you ever thought possible and it is only really the strong – those with courage and a desire to get better and live the best life – who seek them out.  Make sure you go to someone who seems to like you and believe in you and with whom you feel safe, free to be you and comfortable.


7. Finally, persevere


Most situations eventually improve; many people with infertility will have a baby or adopt at some point, many of the sick will heal, many find a way to get on top of their finances or be re-employed, most teenagers “become normal” human beings again!

For those of us for whom the problem persists, we find a way to manage better, connect better, and generally enjoy our lives more anyway.  All of us if we don’t give in to bitterness or to our discouragement and seek help if we need it, will come out of this difficult time with more compassion, increased maturity and greater resilience and will see happier days again.