– a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness.
– an attempt to prevent something by showing disapproval or creating difficulties; deterrent.
All too often I find myself discouraged. Usually, it is when I should be feeling most confident, excited, or courageous.
Discouragement is a strange side effect that comes from outside opinions. In general, it is a result of our brains telling us someone disapproves – but sometimes discouragement is pushed onto us by others blatantly.
As a mom, I understand the second definition well. There are certain situations in which discouragement is a necessary action to keep a child (or friend) safe. Showing disapproval of the computer chord being put in the 8 month old’s mouth, this is necessary discouragement. Continually reminding the two year old not to hang on the oven because they could get burned, necessary discouragement. Reminding the friend of the negative pattern they have with an ex, necessary discouragement. So many scenarios fit here.
What is incredibly sad to me is the way that we, as adults, sometimes show disapproval because of jealousy or irritation – rather than out of love and care. In the social media age we live in, it is easy to fall prey to being discouraged or discouraging, without really meaning to. We see a friend who accomplished something without us, and we get that green prick of jealousy and we lash out either silently or with words.
We can be incredibly discouraging to people who are more “successful” or more well-liked than we are on various platforms. We pick apart their posts, offering disapproving opinions, mostly to make ourselves feel better about our lack of “success”. (Please realize I am using these words in quotes – because I understand that success is not actually measured in this way. But sometimes it sure feels like it!) We feel that by not supporting those who we are jealous of, we are in some way sticking it to the man and thus making ourselves feel better. What a sad way to operate.
On the other hand – we can become incredibly discouraged by people who – from our perspective – are more “successful” or well-liked than we are. It causes us to feel insecure. Like we need to change to be better, more like them. This is also a sad way of operating. The Enneagram typing system has been helping me process this deeper and to heal from my tendency towards operating under other people’s feelings and emotions more than my own. As an Enneagram 2, I am extremely susceptible to the reactions of others. It’s incredibly freeing to learn about myself and to realize how differently other people operate than me.
I think that discouragement robs us of our uniqueness. It causes us to feel we have to fit a mold, to make others happy. We lose confidence and enthusiasm and try to become carbon copies of others.
I’ve learned a few things about discouragement in the process of self-publishing my first book.
Let’s dig in.
- When you complete something that you are excited about, and someone else is not encouraging – that is on THEM, not on YOU.
Let me repeat. Someone else discouraging you about something you are proud of is 100% their issue, not yours. A friend who chooses to be negative towards your success, is probably feeling defensive of where they are at and they don’t know how to come alongside your success positively. A stranger who feels the need to take you down a notch, is probably hurting and unable to speak positively anywhere – especially to themselves.
Likewise, when you feel yourself slipping into downplaying or speaking negatively of someone else’s excitement or passion – that is on YOU. Step back and evaluate your heart when you feel this negativity playing in your head.
I have been in both of these places. On the receiving end, it hurts. Especially when it’s someone who should be rooting for you. On the dishing out end, it hurts too – only you feel like what you’re doing is justified because for a brief second it makes you feel bigger. What you’re really doing is belittling someone else. And “to belittle, you have to be little”. (That’s a favorite quote by Kahil Gibran)
Don’t be little. Be big. Be kind. Root for each other.
- When you are feeling confident and excited, this is the prime time for the devil to have his way stealing, killing, and destroying.
Okay. I had to put this in here because this kind of situation is exactly where I think the devil gets his greatest and most twisted joys from. Discouraging others through their friends, through social media, through the downgrading of their accomplishments. He loves this.I just self-published a book. I reacted obediently to an urgent push to get it out, to write the words, to pour out my heart and publish it for whoever it might be for. This was huge. It was an incredibly satisfying and humbling endeavor. I, mostly, felt deep pride and excitement and confidence… but there were and are sources of discouragement. Instead of staying in this place of courage, I sometimes find myself focusing on the fluctuation of my followers – on the lack of interaction on this or that post – on the lack of interest from people I expected to root for me.
I am coming to you with this post in the middle of battling my own discouragement. It’s a real thing that is amplified greatly by social media platforms. With one click, or one choice NOT to click, another person has the power to deeply discourage another. We have to learn to take this control back. We have to learn not to rely on numbers and following. We have to learn to maintain our courage and battle discouragement.
- When you feel discouraged, preach truth to yourself or find someone else to do it for you.
The positive thing about feeling discouraged is that you have the power to get your courage, enthusiasm, confidence, and excitement back. Truth reigns. I really believe this.Here’s what I did the other night. I was driving. I was feeling discouraged. I needed reassurance, and encouragement – so I made a video of me for me. I said a lot of the stuff I am saying in this blog but I also said this “I wrote a book. A real book. This is something to be proud of. I am so proud of this. I took a season that was really challenging, and I chose to find a way to heal and to push beauty instead of becoming bitter and wallowing in my pain. I am courageous. I am proud of myself.”
I didn’t post it anywhere. I watched it three times. I cried. I laughed at how awkward I am – but I listened to my own voice claiming TRUTH.
Sometimes, I don’t think making a video to myself would work, because my heart isn’t always able to utter truths. That’s where our people come into play. I have certain people who I know are one phone call or text away who will encourage me and name the lies of whatever discouragement has crept in.
You need these pe0ple. Find these people, and call on them. It’s easier to speak life over others than ourselves sometimes. We have to learn to do both. This is the power we have over discouragement.
If you accomplished something you are proud of – discouragement will try to get in there. It doesn’t have to win or have even a second of your time. Have you truth handy. Have your heart ready to battle.
If you’re feeling discouraged today, be encouraged. Be careful about how much weight you are giving the numbers on your social media platforms. Be careful about letting the reactions of loved ones dictate your emotions. Be careful to name and celebrate your successes. Be proud of your wins. Be confident. In the end, truth reigns. In the end, the ones discouraging end up hurting themselves more than anyone else. Watch for where you land in this cycle.