“Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” Dale Carnegie
A few months ago, I was feeling discouraged. One night during that difficult season, I called and talked to my life coach for about an hour. It was a powerful, life-changing conversation. But it wasn’t easy. She asked what life might look like for me in ten years.
Initially, I was peering through the lens of fear-based religion and a shame-filled life. I believed my life wouldn’t look any different in ten years than it does today. I was convinced that the only thing that might be different is an extra five pounds around the middle and a little more gray hair.
I felt defeated. My entrepreneurial efforts had seemed to have fallen flat, and I was in a major season of discouragement. I felt disheartened, disillusioned, and completely disappointed in myself.
It’s been about fifteen years since I walked away from a full-ride scholarship to pursue Christian ministry. It felt like the right choice at the time, but some folks in my inner-circle were less-than-thrilled about my decision. I was told, “You’ll look back on this in ten years and realize this was the biggest mistake of your life.” And as I processed my feelings during that coaching session, it seemed my naysayers were only off by about five years.
What about you? Have you ever been there? Have you ever thought, “Maybe this is all there is”? Has discouragement ever smacked you around and made you question what in the hell you’re actually doing here? I’ve been there. I hear you. Today’s post is all about practical ways to overcome discouragement and begin to fully live again.
1) Let go.
Let go of the unrealistic expectations of yourself and others. Let go of the lofty goals you’ve placed for yourself, even if it’s just for today. Letting go doesn’t mean you have to burn the house down and walk away. Just let go for now, and be human. Have a good hard cry. Or a stiff drink. Let go of all the things that worry and stress you out today. Let go of the things that raise your shoulders and shorten your breath. Let it all go.
2) Take a deep breath.
Give yourself space to breathe and just be. If I have learned anything from running, it’s the importance of breathing. Deep breaths that fill your lower lungs are vital when you’re running.
Most of us don’t slow down long enough to breathe. We’re running here and there and are so focused on our checklists that we forget the most basic of human functions: breathing! Breathing looks different for everyone, but could include meditation, prayer, yoga, or just a simple walk around the block.
3) Affirm yourself.
Who are you at the core of your being? Who do you want to be? Tell yourself all the positive things you are, and all the things you want to be. Start with some “I am” statements. I am a good husband. I am an involved father. I am fit. I am healthy. I am a good listener. I am compassionate. I am patient. I am a productive member of society. I am worthy of love and respect.
Photo by Farhad Sadykov