Discouragement is waging a war against our minds.
No matter how much we achieve and the amount of progress we make, it always tries to infiltrate our defenses.
It’s the voice in our heads saying:
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’ll look like a fool.”
“Who do you think you are?”
When confronted with these thoughts, we often don’t know what to do—because many people don’t even realize there are things you can do to actively combat discouragement.
In the absence of alternatives, we freeze up. Progress halts. We accept that whatever it was we were working toward simply wasn’t meant to be.
Fortunately, there are alternatives—specific defenses you can create in your life that will fend off discouragement when it strikes.
When I was at the lowest, most discouraging point in my life—living under a pier—a man named Jones helped me realize I didn’t have the proper defenses.
Not only did he help me overcome discouragement in that moment, he gave me the habit of always searching for new defenses against it, one I’ve continued to use to this day. Now, I want to pass that habit on to you.
4 Simple Ways to Overcome Discouragement
1. Start talking to yourself
One night on the beach, Jones told me something I’ve never forgotten:
“You need to stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself again.”
He was right, I knew, and soon, I realized that the very words running through my mind were setting me up for failure.
You see, your mind is like the original Google. If you feed it a statement or question, your mind—usually the subconscious part of it—will return an answer every time. And that happens whether the answer it has come up with is a good one or a bad one.
The result you receive is based on what you feed the system. Feed it something good, you’ll get good answers. Feed it something bad and, well—you know what happens.
The bottom line is this: the statements and questions you use in conversations with yourself make a huge difference in what you do, how you think, and how you feel.
With that in mind, it’s important to learn how control your inner dialogue in order to fend off discouragement.
How to Control Your Inner Dialogue
The quality of your questions determine the quality of your answers—so pay attention to the questions you ask yourself.
Avoid questions like, “Why am I having such a hard time?” or, “Why does this always happen to me?” Instead, try, “What just happened, and what can I take away from this?”
Resist asking, “Why doesn’t anybody care?” and favor questions like, “Why is that person in so much pain, and what would cause him to take it out on me?”
Ask yourself questions that are life giving.
Every second of every day, we make hundreds of decisions. What we do, how we think, and how we feel are all dictated to a large degree by the conversations we have with ourselves. Pay attention to those conversations and watch how your life changes.
2. Celebrate Often
Most people only celebrate big wins. They don’t allow themselves to feel a sense of progress until they hit a huge milestone in their journey.
But waiting to celebrate gives discouragement time to sneak in the back door of your mind. That’s why it’s so important to praise yourself for small victories.
And you know what?
It’s hard to stay discouraged when you’re constantly searching for something or someone to celebrate. I’ve said before that the seeds of depressions have a tough time taking root in a grateful heart. The same is true with discouragement and celebration.
How to Never Overlook a Moment to Celebrate
- Create several main goals you want to achieve.
- Create smaller goals that lead up to each of your main goals.
- Plan some sort of celebration for when you reach a small milestone. It doesn’t have to be elaborate—just give yourself a reward for making progress.
- Be on the lookout for others hitting their small milestones, and recognize them when they do. When you acknowledge an achievement others are overlooking or discounting in their own lives, you can do wonders for their confidence.
Celebrating small wins along the way will keep you motivated and encouraged. Don’t neglect it!
3. Prune Your Negative Vines
If you don’t prune unproductive branches off a fruit-bearing tree, you can’t expect much of a harvest.
The same goes for you and me.
We must actively distance ourselves from negativity. If we don’t, we limit the amount of fruit we can bear. In other words, we stunt our own growth.
Your dreams, visions, and opportunities will always require you to become more than you currently are. In short, you must grow to achieve them.
But average people don’t realize this…
Many of them see your unusual level of belief and motivation as a threat to their comfortable lives. So, whether consciously or unconsciously, they say things to discourage you.
You’re in over your head.
What you’re trying to do is impossible.
There is no shame in quitting.
But none of this is true.
The vision you have for your life (and your family’s life) holds more weight than other people’s opinions.
So distance yourself from negativity. Don’t listen to people whose intentions are just to slow you down.
Unfortunately, sometimes the most negative people in life can be those closest to you. If you’re struggling with figuring out how you could possibly distance yourself from them, use the four strategies I outlined in this post.
4. Establish Boundaries
Imagine how easy it would be for an army to capture an unprotected city. The same thing can happen to your mind if you don’t establish boundaries.
Boundaries are the castle walls that surround your mind, preventing discouragement from walking right in and taking control.
The problem is most people are scared to set them.
We’re afraid of offending others, so we tolerate negative people and activities that influence our thinking and behavior. In doing so, we prioritize meaningless opinions over our own goals and dreams.
Whom you spend time with, what you spend time doing, and what you allow in your mind will either help you overcome discouragement, or fall to its forces.
Boundaries are the only mechanism for keeping the bad stuff out and the good stuff in. If you want to overcome discouragement, boundaries are vital.
You Have the Power to Beat Discouragement When It Comes Knocking
We’re all either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis—that’s just part of living on this planet.
But ultimately, we can choose how we react to whatever life throws at us, including discouragement.
If you equip yourself with the proper defenses, you can overcome it and live the life you were made to live.
In the comments, tell me about a time you overcame discouragement. What situation left you discouraged? How did you fight back?