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October 15, 2012
by Dr. Kevin Kappler, Ph.D.

Don't let discouragement discourage you

October 15, 2012 17:14 by Dr. Kevin Kappler, Ph.D.

Being discouraged can be as devastating as stopping you in your tracks or it can merely be a pothole in the journey of life. Its basis is the feeling that even if you give it your best shot you will not achieve your goals. If we don't stop it when it starts it will result in such negative attitudes and emotions that it will rob us of our productivity and self-confidence. It can have a negative impact on every aspect of our lives including our ability to love, remain healthy and continue feeling optimistic. "Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage" wrote Neal A. Maxwell and this point should be well taken. Perfectly adequate people become discouraged. Which comes to the first way to deal with discouragement. Once you feel that way you should start to ask yourself what is making you feel defeated. This will give you a clue as to where this feeling is coming from and provide a more specific self-criticism to be analyzed. When looking at these specific causes one can then answer the smaller question of what it is that brought about this greater feeling of dismay. You may be able to examine what you have and haven't done or if there is something in particular that is preventing you from moving forward.


It is also important to maintain a healthy perspective. Discouragement is a lot like throwing yourself down a well hole. The fact that you're stuck at the bottom of the well becomes a problem entirely into itself and has nothing to do with how thirsty you were when you fell in or how far you have gone without being able to nourish yourself. The fact that you have now landed in the place of discouragement means that you have to find a way out of that hole so that you can get back on task.


This may be a time to reflect on the journey you have chosen. Have you become exhausted and need to re-energize? Is there something about the way you are approaching this problem that needs to be reevaluated? If it's just a question of taking longer than you expected that puts it into perspective of being impatient rather than discouraged. If it is the fact that you seem to overlook the progress you have made then perhaps you're looking too much into the future. The Chinese say that a long trip is accomplished by small steps. Thinking how much further you have to go can discourage you even though you have made progress.


Discouragement can be looked at as a loss of faith in your plan to reach an objective. Re-examining that plan and its implementation are key to revitalizing your efforts. If anyone really knew how difficult it was to become a doctor we wouldn't have any new doctors. It is only the fact that that education is broken into smaller parts that we feel any chance of succeeding.


Discouragement breeds inactivity. By becoming more active and refusing to give up you counteract the discouragement with a new sense of vitality. Sometimes it is nothing more than refusing to give up like a runner completing a marathon will refuse to walk. Other times it may be examining the progress you have made so that it instills in you sense that you may not have reached your goal that you have gone a certain distance towards it.

It is important when facing discouragement that you break down the question of why you are discouraged into specific reasons. Then you can determine if these are unmet expectations, exhaustion or just feelings that you have let yourself down. Then by thinking of specific play what you have accomplished and what is left to accomplish gives you a sense that you are on the right road but just haven't completed the journey.


When you feel discouragement it is important to start to re-examine your plan of reaching your objective. The more clearly you can find that plan the less its ambiguity leads you to discouragement. A clearly delineated plan with goals that are broken down into something attainable will prevent you from getting lost in the fog of discouragement. On a greater level your discouragement may be more connected to a sense of fulfillment or depression. Dealing with these issues are separate from obtaining a goal.


Success comes to those who are neither afraid to fail nor discouraged by failure. In this case learning to turn passivity into activity is a key way of dispelling discouragement. Being able to say that this is a temporary obstacle and not the end of the road allows you to realize the impermanence of this feeling. Why is it that very optimistic people do not seem to be affected by discouragement? It is because they have learned a long time ago to keep moving towards that goal and keep it in the forefront of their minds so that when the road gets rocky and they start to stumble the only see the goal and not the path to it.

About the Author

Dr. Kevin Kappler Dr. Kevin Kappler, Ph.D.

Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to someone with a wealth of experience and skill to get the best solution to your problem without judging you?

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