Helpful Ways to Deal with Discouragement

We have felt discouraged from time to time. It is a universal human emotion.

It comes from having plans or goals that aren’t just falling quickly into place. Or maybe it feels like things are just taking way too long. And we start to doubt ourselves.

We think about giving up. Quitting that project. “That idea was stupid anyway.” “Why did we actually think we could succeed?”

Discouragement can lead to depression and despair if it occurs often enough or if we are already battling with these in our lives.

There are some things that make discouragement worse:

  1. Not being rested. If we are tired or sleep deprived things just seem worse than they really are. We aren’t able to put things in their proper perspective.
  2. We keep missing our goals — we aren’t feeling successful in many, if any, areas of our life. If we have problems in one area of our life and then something unrelated also isn’t working out it is easy to become discouraged.
  3. We have a poor, or no, support system. Everyone needs a sounding board and at least one person to believe in us. A cheerleader to lift us up when we fall. If people close to us aren’t supportive, discouragement is easier.
  4. Fear — of what people will think, fear of failing, fear of succeeding and fear of not being good enough. Fear makes our risk of getting discouraged or giving up worse.
  5. We are believing everything we think. Our thoughts are these little-untrained monkeys running around giving us random stuff. “I am not _______ enough” is the most common self-defeating thought we have. (Fill in the blank with your own specific belief.)

If you are feeling discouraged about your project, your writing, your creative endeavours, or your life, then now is the time to look at your discouragement as a catalyst for change. Use this time of feeling down to start again.

Here are some useful things that you can do to turn your discouragement into inspiration and positivity:

1. Use it — it is a message. Look at what you are doing. Change something, in your approach, your message, your timing, whatever. Reorganize things, even just slightly. Try a new approach.

2. Take care of yourself. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Sleep affects our mental state profoundly. If you aren’t getting enough — fix this first. I promise it will be worth it.

There is no easy answer to how much sleep you actually need or should get. We are all different and our need for sleep can vary widely.

On average, adults need about 7 hours per night, with the general range being 7–9 hours. Older adults have the same basic needs. A child needs more sleep, as do teenagers.

3. Find a support group or person. It can be even here on Medium. People who see what you are trying to do and will only offer constructive criticism and praise.

Stop hanging around and feeding the haters and non-supporters. Just say no.

People need to feel valued and listened to. Our creative endeavours and ideas and goals are babies. They need to be treated with care.

Don’t be afraid to get constructive criticism. We need this to improve.

Ask for help if you need it — a mentor, or even a helpful, friendly voice — can be a huge asset.

4. Start questioning your thoughts. Often we can get stuck in negative cycles of thought and, worse yet, believe them.

You don’t have to believe your thoughts. Start questioning the ones that are causing you depression, discouragement and stress.

Just start by noticing the thought and then just ask, “really?” or some other version.

And, yes, you are enough.

5. Go for a walk outside. Or do something physical. Moving can help release more positive endorphins, plus you get a break.

And don’t forget to really breathe. Breath is a bridge between our body and mind (yoga philosophy here) and we often our breathing is shallow. Breath deeply and mindfully on your walk.

6. Stop comparing yourself to others. It is very easy to get discouraged when you look and see how well other people are doing.

Comparision is the thief of joy. I wrote an article about this unhealthy habit we can easily fall into and how to stop this behaviour.

7. Remember your successes. Even if they are small. Remind yourself of the strengths you have. Celebrate your wins. We all have them.

If you really cannot think of any, ask a loved one to tell you some! Be proud of what you have accomplished so far!

8. Remind yourself of the big picture. Rome wasn’t conquered in a day. Good things take time. All the cliches have a common element. Persistence wins.

James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson Vacuums, failed more than 5000 times trying to find the version of his vacuum that actually worked. It took more than 15 years to be successful. Now he is the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company.

Do not underestimate the power of patience, persistence and looking at the big picture.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

Thank you.


Michelle Fyfe has been a pharmacist for over 25 years and is passionate about using holistic, natural methods of achieving true health; developing new, healthy and simple lifestyles with a side effect of increased energy, happiness and fulfillment.

Follow her blog — Healthy Living Tribe at

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    1. I am so glad it was helpful! I often tell myself and others not to believe everything we think – those random monkays can be trouble -makers! Have a wonderful day! Thank you for your comment and reading my post, it feels good to reach others.


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