Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ten Tips for Battling Discouragement

On this road to being who God created us to be, essentially being the best we were made to be, there can be some instances of discouragement. Every once in awhile, discouragement happens. It's a part of life. It's human. Basically, discouragement is a loss of confidence. It can happen at any time and for various reasons. But probably one of the worst enemies we have, when it comes to disappointment and discouragement, is our own self.

Discouragement can be built-in. No need for outside sources. Sure, they say the more we're on social media, the more depressed we can become. Here's a simple solution to that: stick more to real-life rather than virtual reality. That's a no-brainer. But no matter the outside sources, which, as a matter of fact, sometimes are hard to pinpoint, self-discouragement creeps up. Without notice. What to do?

Here are some helpful tips for battling discouragement along the way of life's goals. Becoming who God created us to be, so that we can set the world on fire is no easy task. It takes dedication, perseverance, and trust that God is the Artisan and we are His masterpiece, to be.

Ten Tips for Battling Discouragement

1. Eliminate outside sources. 

If we are able to pinpoint what outside sources are bringing on discouragement, we are able to give ourselves distance or even the possibility to eliminate them altogether.  For example, if we are feeling down after spending lengthy time on social media, cut back. Or, if we need to just eliminate it for a while, go for it. If it is a certain relationship, whether it be a friend or family member, we can set boundaries or just take some time to keep our distance until we have been able to clear our mind and deal with the situation with more logic rather than emotion.

2. Take a break from technology. 

Even though I mention social media in my first tip, all around, social media and even technology in general, can cause for a certain disconnect from the real world. It doesn't allow us to relax. I mean, really relax. Take some time-out from technology and read a real book (not on a tablet) or go for a walk. Quiet time is essential to helping us not only relax our bodies but our mind as well. We live in a constant flood of information and it's good to check-out of that tidal wave every once in awhile.

3. Read inspirational literature. 

Again, reading. It is a way to relax, particularly when it's on paper. The old fashioned way is best. The best place to start? Sacred Scripture. If we want to find timeless inspiration, then look no further than the Bible. It's the best selling book of all time, inspired by none other than God Himself.  Here's a link where one can find a plethora of Bibles and inspirational books: Ignatius Press.

4. Pray.

This naturally brings me to prayer. Prayer is essential in reaching our goals and allowing God to do His work. It is only when we are in dialogue with Him, the Master Craftsman, that we can envision what He wants from us. It's also our opportunity to communicate to Him the tweaks we wouldn't mind Him making here and there. Praying and becoming God's work of art is certainly not a passive task. He listens to our pleas and we, along with Him, can work together to reach our essential goals.

Here are just a few of the many passages from Sacred Scripture that will give us a renewed sense of hope. All of Sacred Scripture is a story of hope and love.

Isaiah 43
Jeremiah 29:11
Matthew 11:28
Jeremiah 1:5
1 John 4:19

5. Be patient.

We must give ourselves time to accomplish the goals we feel like we may never reach. We mustn't' be hard on ourselves. It's funny but we can be really patient with others, but when it comes to ourselves, most of us can be very inflexible and unrelenting. Sometimes we have to recall that it's not only the destination, but also the journey that matters. It is the journey that in fact makes the destination.

6. Find a mentor or spiritual director.

For us Catholics we might also want to find ourselves a spiritual director. A spiritual director may be a priest or a trained lay person. Basically a spiritual director helps us to deepen our faith and to discern the movements of the Holy Spirit in our life. On a more practical level, we may want to find a mentor. For instance, if we are wanting to become an avid writer, we can link up with someone that has experience in the writing field. Finding a professional with some spare time and good will can be a huge help, especially when we are first setting out to reaching our goals. They can give us pointers and help you foresee obstacles that perhaps they've already overcome.

7. Step away.

 If we only dedicate ourselves to one thing, then it may get pretty sticky. We may become hyperfocused which can lead to stifling episodes of rampant frustration. This is a sure way to become absolutely discouraged. We must step away from our projects/goals. Take a break every once in awhile. Find other hobbies or small projects. No. We're not talking about small breaks here. On occasion, we need to take a few weeks or even months away from our goals. It helps to clear the mind so that we may return with a fresh outlook and renewed zeal.

8. Get other opinions/critiques.

Another good tip is to search out all types of opinions/critiques about our work/project. The best way to become better at what we do is to see our work from many perspectives. With a mentor we are able to hone in on expert advice. However, when asking other people, who aren't necessarily experts, we are able to receive other perspectives. This allows us to see our work from another vantage point that will certainly help us to improve or change, where needed. The key is not to seek out too many opinions.

9. Let discouragement run its course. 

Allow discouragement to happen. It's natural. It's human. Face it. We get discouraged. It is what it is. Let it take it's few days to settle and dissipate. This is the perfect time for either a short-term or long-term break. Our goals aren't necessarily terminated. They are just set on hold. Sometimes God allows for these little stints of downtime that may involve discouragement because it allows us to focus on what is important. It helps us reflect on what our goal really is.

10. Fight through it. 

Finally, there are those moments where we may feel discouraged but we know we have to fight through it. We may encounter small enough hurdles where we are able to push through without a lot of drawback. We may even find a sense of satisfaction because, precisely, we didn't have to step away. Like I mentioned, discouragement is normal. It's also a great mechanism for growth, for so many reasons. Perhaps the most important one, at times, is that we are indeed able to stay the course, no matter the circumstances. In the end it helps to remind us who's in charge. If we keep pressing on, we learn valuable lessons that make God's work even more beautiful. In turn, it also makes us all the more compassionate towards ourselves and others. Our next set of discouragements may just not seem so bad.

In all your ways be mindful of Him, 

and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6

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