“If your inner life is not producing what you would like on the outside, don’t be discouraged… just be willing to change.” – Joyce Meyer
Have you ever had a season where you just felt lost? Like you’re working so hard, but you’re not sure what for? You’re frustrated because you aren’t yet where you want to be, yet you don’t know how to get there? You’re starting to resent your effort, even though deep down you know you love it? You feel discouraged and beat down.
That’s where I have been the last weeks. Defeated. Utterly discouraged. Questioning my purpose. Carrying so much on my shoulders and wanting help but unsure how to ask for it. I felt like elastic, stretched so thin trying to give my time and energy to so many things that I wasn’t really giving anything to anyone at all.
And you know what made it even worse? Right in the middle of my pity party, I had to comfort family going through their own season of pain. Who wants to do that when you’re feeling the lowest of low? I knew my energy would set the tone for this season, and I wanted it to be amazing, not discouraging. So I had two choices: Hide my feelings and fake a smile, or be honest and have the right conversations. I chose the second.
Here’s a fact: Being discouraged happens to everyone. We all feel lost. And we all have our moments. It’s what we do when we feel these things that make all the difference. So, while it’s fresh, here’s what I learned in the past weeks about how to get out of a discouraged funk when you find yourself in one:
- Write in a journal: Journaling is a good habit, and I can’t believe it took me long to jump on the bandwagon. Each morning when I wake up, I write a reflection of how I’m feeling and why. Doing so has made me more in tune with my emotions than I’ve ever been in my life and is the reason I was able to pinpoint how I was feeling the past weeks and what was causing it.
- Be honest with yourself and others: When you feel something, the worst thing you can do is minimise it. If you pretend your feelings don’t exist and sweep them under the rug, they’ll continue to build and build and build. Eventually, you’ll explode, and when you do, it won’t be pretty. Be honest about how you feel. Both to yourself and to those who are affected by your feelings. Don’t sugarcoat. Don’t feel the need to put a positive spin on it. Just say it out loud. All of it. (But there’s a right way to do it! Check out this post about understanding your emotions and some tips on sharing your thoughts and feelings in a constructive, supportive way.) No one can help you if they don’t understand how you’re truly feeling in the first place.
- Ask for help: Once you admit how you feel, now something can be done about it. However, you might not be the best person to do that. When we’re emotional, we’re usually not logical. When we’re too close to the problem, we’re usually not able to see a clear path forward. After telling someone how you are feeling, tell them you need them to lead you. You invite people in, you give them a chance to make a difference, and you build trust by showing that you’re human. Asking for help is courageous.
- Reprioritise: One of the reasons you might be in a discouraged funk is that you’re overstretched. Maybe you’re giving everything you have to everyone else and not giving anything to yourself. Maybe you’re spending tons of time on things that don’t make a big impact and you’re neglecting the things that actually move the needle. Look at your to-do list. Identify what’s crucial and pause (or cancel) everything else. Cancel a few meetings. Extend a few projects past the deadline. Do this in order to get back to feeling your best, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.
- Practice gratitude: It’s so easy to get discouraged and want to be further along than you are, but why is it so hard to stop and reflect on how far you’ve come? Another daily practice I have is gratitude. I think about ten things I’m thankful for before I start my day. It helps me put things into perspective and have a positive mindset. I’m always reminded that there were days I wished for the life I have now. But you know what? During this “funk” that I had, I wasn’t keeping up with my gratitude practice. I’m sure that played a part.
- Refuel: What things energise you? What are the things you love to do that make you the best? For me, it’s writing, reading, watching movies to disconnect, and spending time alone. I usually make time for all of these things, but lately, I’ve been putting other priorities before my own. When we do that for so long, we begin to resent our efforts to others because it takes us away from doing the things we love. It’s so important to make time for you first. You can’t serve others unless you’re serving yourself. In the past days, I have made time for a few of the things I’ve been neglecting and it’s making all the difference in the world.
If you’re in a discouraged funk, know that it will pass as long as you do something about it. I hope the tips above will help you and remember—we’re all in this together! If you have any other tips to help out others that are feeling discouraged please share with us in the comments section or via email.