How to Beat Discouragement

Have you ever wondered why you get so upset when things don’t go as you’ve painstakingly planned? You may be thinking, that’s a stupid question, it’s normal to be upset when things don’t turn out like we want them to; end of story. But is it?  Yes, disappointment is an inevitable part of life, but if it’s leading to discouragement or depression, it’s time to take a look at what could be driving it.

Disappointment is the result of a blocked goal, a hurt; or perceived loss of some kind. This usually gives rise to feelings of anger, hurt, or rejection. I wanted something to happen that didn’t, or I didn’t want something to happen that did. The most important thing to consider is the message your disappointment is trying to convey. 

All of us have attached a meaning to the situations and events in life that have caused us pain or disappointment. When those add up it’s easy for discouragement to set in. How do you know if you’re discouraged? Here are a few ways:

  • Chronic feelings of anger or depression
  • Consistent negative self-talk
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Feelings of worthlessness

Our beliefs provide clues as to why we struggle with discouragement. So we need to notice the negative attributions we’re making about ourselves that are keeping us stuck. Here are some examples– see if any fit for you. 

If things don’t go as I plan, I tend to believe the following:

  • I’m a failure
  • I’m inadequate
  • I’m not good enough
  • I won’t be happy unless…

Most of our discouragement comes from judgments we make about our performance or our intrinsic worth. If you said yes to any of the above statements, you’re forgetting a very important truth. You are full and complete exactly as you are—apart from your performance! How do I know that? Because Jesus said we have been given fullness in Christ (Colossians 2:9). In I Peter 1:3 he said, “His divine power has given us everything for life. The word everything here means everything! So whether you feel like it or not, the truth is, you are adequate in Christ. That’s the best discouragement buster I know. 

Here are a few others:

What you think or feel isn’t necessarily the truth

Feelings aren’t facts, but we make them into facts in the following ways: I FEEL inadequate, therefore, I BELIEVE I’m inadequate, and so I ACT in ways that demonstrate I’m inadequate. We have to STOP negative self-talk, and START replacing it with God’s truth 

Your performance doesn’t define you

We all want to do our best, but in the process we’re perfecting ourselves to death. We spend so much time basing our intrinsic worth on what we “do” we’ve forgotten that developing a sense of who we are is far more important to God 

Life’s disappointments can make you stronger 

Disappointment is a part of life. How we deal with it can generate growth and possibilities. In order to bounce back from discouragement we must cultivate a resilient spirit by focusing on our strengths, refusing to quit, cultivating our dependence on God, and looking at the big picture

What disappointments are you facing today? What beliefs are robbing you of the joy that is already yours in Christ?  Begin today to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness by refusing to let life’s disappointments steal your joy. 

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Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast. Her show airs on several radio stations as well as the Internet. They can be downloaded from www.ritaschulte.com/category/podcast or on iTunes at Heartline Podcast. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, and Christianity Today, Kyria. Her book on moving through the losses of life will be released in Fall 2013 by Leafwood Publishers. Follow her at www.ritaschulte.com, on Facebook  and twitter @heartlinepod.

  • CHELLE

    Rita; Allume,
    I needed to read this today. I’m bookmarking it; sharing it, knowing that someone else is struggling with their worth. It happens to the best of it.
    Peace and good to you.

    • RITA SCHULTE

      Thank you so much Chelle, i am so blessed it ministered to you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.ditto.507 ASHLEY DITTO

    Yes, this really blessed me today. Thank you!!!

    • RITA SCHULTE

      Thank you Ashley for taking the time to write

    • RITA SCHULTE

      So glad HE used it.

  • MIKE

    I think in dealing with discouragement you have to examine what God might be up to that messes up your plans. He may have something greater in mind and we just need to readjust our plans to fit his bigger purpose. Thanks for this great reminder

    • RITASCHULTE

      You are so right Mike. There is always a greater purpose!

  • JILL MONACO

    No matter how mature I get in Christ I find the enemy wants to get me to believe his thoughts are coming from me. I loved this post because we all get discouraged from time to time and we need to remember God always has a word of encouragement. Today, it came through you. Thank you.

    • RITA SCHULTE

      So glad it helped Jill. The enemy is a master at using first person singular pronouns to convince us of just what you said. We must remember we have the mind of Christ. This is not a civil war between the bad you and the good you. Your freedom from sin has been paid for. You have been made righteous in Christ. Embrace it and chose to believe that greater is he who is in you! Thanks for writing.

  • http://twitter.com/suegraber SUE GRABER

    Thanks for posting this; God knew it is exactly what I needed to hear today, especially “You are full and complete exactly as you are—apart from your performance!” Even though I know this in my heart, I let the devil cause me to doubt the truth of it. The past few weeks have been filled with one challenge after another, and I have gotten myself into that place where I have become discouraged and disappointed in so many people. Trusting the Holy Spirit to touch my heart with your words to encourage me.