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Discouragement isn’t too hard to find in some seasons of life. Sometimes, attitude is really the only thing between something being a disaster or an adventure…sometimes.
There have been a few times in my life that were a literal disaster. Looking at it any other way would’ve been outright denial. So what do you do during those times? I want to take a worst case scenario for those of you really facing that. And for those of you who aren’t this will be icing on the cake!
1.STAND IN AWE OF GOD!
Even if you don’t have a relationship with God, it’s gotta blow your mind to look around and see all the things that He made and there is no way it just ‘magically appeared!’ If our planet Earth was tilted just one degree any other way that what it is right now, we could not survive. If the Sun was just a touch hotter or colder, same thing. If plants didn’t grow, same thing! If plants did not use the carbon dioxide we produce and turn in into oxygen that we need, same thing! We could not survive. Just look at your animals and their different personalities! It’s so crazy to look at how different they all are. And people! Well, that’s a whole other ball of wax! We seem to be the best and worst part of creation, but it still is staggeringly amazing! You can’t say God doesn’t have a sense of humor when you look at a platypus. Just sayin’!
2. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN BE GRATEFUL FOR
It might sound too simple, but when I start literally making a list of all the things I am grateful for my discouragement begins to melt away. For me, discouragement often comes from focusing on what I don’t have, who I don’t have, what I have not accomplished, my mistakes, what I haven’t had time for recently, and comparing myself to others. (The last one is a biggy!)
So, I started a gratitude journal and really thought about each thing as I wrote it. I got to over 1,000! It helped a lot and it got my attitude back on track. Perspective is a beautiful thing! 🙂
3. IDENTIFY THE SOURCE
Obviously this has to be the first thing we do because it might be something we can change. There are plenty of times in life where our circumstances are out of our control, so it’s all the more important to quickly and efficiently deal with ones that are!
This might be a toxic person in your life. Never underestimate the influence other people have on you! Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future is a saying that is well used and for good reason! Maybe the toxic person is a co-worker. Do you need to find another job to keep your sanity? Maybe the toxic person is a loved one or significant other. Do they need to be kept at arms length or removed from your life?
No matter who they are it’s our job to not allow them to drag us down into their little poisonous pit. I’ve been there! Without knowing it I got drug all the way to the bottom and let me tell you, it was a tough climb back out. The quicker you recognize it and deal with it the better. Some people are more sensitive to toxic people than others, so it’s a matter of getting to know yourself which leads me to the next point.
What if that toxic person is you? In all seriousness, the way we talk to ourselves is HUGE! Our state of mind will make or break us. If you are your own personal bully, then it’s important to go on a journey to figure out why and what you need to do about it. Brene Brown has a book called Daring Greatly that I highly recommend that talks a lot about her research about why some people feel worthy of love and why others don’t.
4. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL…AND KILL COMPARISIONS
Control is really just an illusion. The older I get the more I believe that. We live in a world where we all have free will and some wield it like a sword hurting everyone in their path. We often blame God for that, but we fail to understand a very key thing about God. The most dangerous thing He gave us is free will. Why did He do that? Because He if we don’t have it we can’t choose to love Him. He doesn’t want puppets. He wants us to love Him all on our own. Sadly, many miss that God is in charge, but He is not in control. He will not force His way on us (control us), but we will all stand before Him to give an account for our lives (He’s in charge). He’s the one we answer to. No one else.
5. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GUILT AND SHAME
This is such a huge thing to ‘get.’ Guilt says, “I did something bad.” Shame says, “I am bad.” Shame is something every person has unless you are a personality disordered narcissist, sociopath or psychopath. I’ll assume you aren’t any of those! Shame can drive a person to the deepest depths of depression and even suicide.
No matter what you have done you are not a bad person. We all have done rotten things and hopefully guilt kicks in to prod us into seeking forgiveness from those we’ve hurt and of God Himself considering He is ultimately whom we hurt the most. But because God has this CRAZY LOVE for us, all He wants us to do is admit our wrongs, ask His forgiveness, realize we are powerless to save ourselves and put our trust in Him to do what we cannot. Best decision of your life!
6. MAKE THE NEXT LITTLE RIGHT DECISION
I’ll be the first to admit there are times in life that you just can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, so the only thing you can do is make the next little right decision knowing it will get you one step closer to the end of the whole ordeal.
There is saying I really love that goes something like this, “I got tired of waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel so I lit that bitch myself.” Sometimes we need to start moving in the right direction and sadly, that can mean ending relationships we had hoped would become life giving. Lighting the light at the end of the tunnel means you take responsibility for what you can control and make the good happen.
7. INTERRUPT THE PATTERN
We all have patterns in our life that aren’t working for us. What I learned from Tony Robbins is you HAVE TO interrupt the pattern. Find a way to do something different than what you’re doing whether it’s catching yourself talking trash to yourself and saying, “Nope, that’s not true. I got this. I’m going to make the next right decision.”…whatever that is for you. Maybe if you keep overeating you interrupt the pattern of wandering your kitchen with a walk around the neighborhood. If you’re about to snap at one of your family members you hop up and offer to do something nice for them, like, “Hey, would you like a drink of water? I’m going to grab some anyway.” Pretty soon the patterns begin to change.
8. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM?
Let me give you an example. Countless teenagers I talk to are freaking out about not knowing what they want to do with their life after high school. They have no idea how to find out so it keeps them spinning in this perpetual state of anxiety. Talk about discouraging!! I developed a course to help with this, but it is just one example of helping yourself hit pause on the spin cycle so you can hop out on stable ground and get to work trying to figure out what it is you’re having a hard time with.
Sometimes you can talk out your problem with a friend or parent, but a lot of times it takes some soul searching. That is something only you can do on your own! That means you will have to say, “No” to some things so you have time to reflect and see what’s going on inside of you.
9. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T QUIT
“The best things come to those who wait, but only what’s left over from those who hustle.” This saying was written on the board at a CrossFit gym I worked at and it really resonated with me because CrossFit workouts, as addictive as they are, are often so terrible. You think you’re going to die in the middle of it only to say, “see you tomorrow,” when it’s all done. What is wrong with us?!
I want to use this illustration as a metaphor for what you may be dealing with. The only way to be done is to keep going. Sometimes we have to do that in life. Keep going. That is the only thing that separates successful people from the ones who never ‘made it’ at whatever ‘it’ was.
10. ASK “WHAT” NOT “WHY”
It is very tempting to kick the dirt asking “Why is this happening to me,” but I have found that to be utterly pointless and therefore adding to my discouragement. No matter what the scenario there is always something to learn! Ask “What can I learn from this.” Let this be a constant theme in your life and you will be shocked watching discouragement turn into curiosity and positivity.
11. THINK OUTSIDE YOURSELF
When we are constantly focused on ourselves and maybe our difficult circumstances we can’t see what’s going on in the rest of the world whether it’s our own family and friends or globally. Life can get incredibly depressing when our focus is who we see when we look in the mirror. Everyone has their own version of “hard” going on in their lives. Everyone is their own version of “tough” because of that. Why not use even the lessons we’ve learned from our difficult lives to help other people? If we don’t want to tell the whole world about what we’re struggling with that’s cool, just look around and see what you can do to make someone else’s life a lot better.
12. DREAM BIG, BUT ALLOW FOR COURSE CORRECTIONS
If there is one thing I have learned about God is He does NOT think like we do. We aren’t even close, not even in the ballpark, so when I have some great big idea I often hear Him laugh a little. Not a, “I’m laughing at you in a condescending way,” but a “Love the idea, but can I take you further than you ever thought possible. Think WAY BIGGER!” I have also discovered my idea of how the journey should go is FAR different from God’s! It’s almost funny when I look back at how linear I wanted everything to go. Never, ever happens that way! lol
What we…hahmmm…I….fail to understand is the journey is what shapes my character. If we jumped right to the end, we wouldn’t see growth! And friends, if you aren’t growing, you’re dying! Growth takes discomfort! Embrace it and do the best you can with it!
13. ONLY YOU CAN DO WHAT GOD CREATED YOU FOR
It can be very easy to slip into the depressing thoughts of, “What am I here for,” or “There’s no point to my life.” I think every person on the planet has struggled with variations of these thoughts, but have you ever thought of yourself as a genius? Yes, you! Every person is a genius at something! There is something only you can do in this world. No one can do it better than you or just like you would do it. Cool, huh?
14. LIFE HAS SEASONS
There is a season for everything. The season you are in won’t last forever, especially if you are making the next little right decision every time you can. Some seasons last longer than others but enjoy what you can about the season you’re in.
15. AND FINALLY…..A LONE RANGER IS A DEAD RANGER
We need some cohorts in our shenanigans! Find some friends to help you and someday you can return the favor. We never reach our destiny alone. This has been a tough one for me to really get because I’ve always been incredibly independent and….coming from Montana…we are tough people who are self-reliant. That’s not a bad thing, but we all need people sometimes. Just make sure you are dang choosey who your peeps are! Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. You’ve heard that over and over, but it’s almost as true as your mindset…so kick this discouragement in the butt with this, hopefully, helpful list of ideas! 🙂
Let me know how it goes!
I’m happy to help, so you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like 🙂
If you would like to check out my video course for helping you figure out what you want to do with your life here’s the link 🙂
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