Discouragement’s Darker Side

Why it’s more dangerous than we thought

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Discouragement is a disheartened attitude that feels like a messy mix of defeat, grief, and sadness. It is caused by not fulfilling a hope or dream — losing something that we have imagined or visualized, something we became emotionally invested in. We fell in love with our dream, and that loss can hurt. It hurts because you care.

(… and damn it, I love that about you)

Chronic feelings of discouragement interfere with everything. It distorts your mindset and outlook, and negatively impacts your worldview. The feelings of failure and loss will compound and we risk falling into a state of hopelessness.

And hopelessness is scary… it’s pretty lonely there.

Don’t let discouragement and hopelessness get the best of you. They just can’t win.

Because we need you.

There’s always failure. And there’s always disappointment. And there’s always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums. — Michael J. Fox

Hopelessness can be dangerous when we get stuck in our own heads and lose sight of the rational side of things.

Grieve your loss.

Acknowledge and accept your emotions. Validate how you feel. Practice self-compassion. An emotional loss requires that you grieve. Anything else is denial. Go somewhere and scream. Loudly.

And nope, no way, no…just no… you don’t deserve punishment. Forgive yourself.

Find a thinker.

Find a mentor, an intellectual friend, a therapist. But do find a thinker. Why? Because you are a thinker… (that is why you are reading this article, isn’t it?)

The people in your immediate circle may not be as effective for you since you protect and take care of them. You will end up censoring your thoughts for their protection. This comes at the cost of minimizing your feelings and can exacerbate the sense of loneliness.

(and perhaps they need a thinker in their life, too.)

Perspective is everything.

Ask yourself why. Are you sure that you are looking at the situation correctly? Were you expecting perfection? Is there a less emotional and more matter-of-fact way that you can reword your story? Enlist that thinker-friend that we talked about earlier to help you look at the situation from angles that you may not have considered.

Forgetting to acknowledge the positives in your life is not rational. (And you *are* rational — that is what got you to this article, after all).

Things take time. Big ships don’t spin on a dime.

Do the things.

Anything. Something. Lots of things. All the things.

Go outside. The simplicity of fresh air gliding through trees is beautiful.

Revisit your goals and expectations. Make a new goal list and keep your expectations realistic. Be an outsider looking in during this reevaluation.

[Advanced players only: Make them S.M.A.R.T goals.]

Oh, and set your goals high.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” — Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

*There are many resources available that can teach you how to overcome adversity in healthy ways. Discover what works for you and build a toolbox that helps you recover from the unexpected. Hopelessness is a consuming feeling that can trigger depressive episodes and dangerous thought processes. Please, ask for help.*

Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1–800–273-TALK (8255)

Wanna be wanderer, worshiper of words, writer of rough drafts. Maker of mistakes and strong coffee. Reading you — it’s what I do.

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