Discouragement is an emotion we’ve all felt. From the toddler, who’s life seemingly ends when they don’t get chicken nuggets for dinner, to the octogenarian who finds their body falling apart around them and everyone in between. There are a thousand things a day we can be discouraged about, maybe more. And for some reason it’s easier to focus on the bad rather than the good.
Lately I’ve felt particularly assaulted by dark thoughts—whispers of guilt and feelings that I’m not quite good enough in any area of my life. If I miss a writing goal I feel like I’ll never be successful as an author and that I may as well give up. If I mess up a day of my diet it’s all going down the toilet anyway, so I may as well go to Culvers for Ice Cream, which then spawns the guilt for breaking the promise I made to myself to be good. One cross word to a family member and I feel as if I’m the worst person on the planet. One judgmental thoug
ht sends me into throngs of guilt that are almost impossible to break free from.
I figure I’m not the only one with this problem. Society pushes us all to be perfect in ways that are sometimes unattainable. For instance, Facebook keeps telling me that I’m beautiful no matter what. Well, sometimes I’m not, so quit telling me how to feel, dang it. Let me wallow, or let me
throw my hair back and be ugly if I want to. Sheesh. The pressure is killing me.
Then I feel bad for hating all of those nice people on Facebook who think I’m beautiful.
Seriously, is there an end to it?
Last week a lot of things came together and tossed me into the mire. Writing wasn’t going anywhere, which is always frustrating because I do it part time and need to make progress. My sister had pointed out a fatal flaw in my latest novella, so I was trying to re-work it. There had been some family drama that boiled for a few weeks before it finally exploded all over everything. My house wasn’t clean (this is a big thing for me. I know, I know, it doesn’t really matter, but it does to me, so back off!) There were tasks on my To-Do list that had been there for a month. I really hate that. I thought I had offended someone. I’d probably offended several people. After a few weeks of trying to be more healthy I’d gained a pound (not muscle, I promise). And looking at May, I saw I had exactly two nights free the entire month, including weekends.
In the midst of stressing about all of this, I threw myself into writing a novella. I have a new outline, so I thought I could push out 10k words on Friday. Considering I could copy and paste at least 5k of those, I felt confident that I could do it. Normally 5k words in a day is no problem. I’m a fast typist, and this was middle draft material, not final draft. Go me!
Only nothing worked. Not one word was easy, and after four hours I was practically beating my head against my desk. I’d forced myself to keep my butt in the chair, I’d forced myself to eat a healthy lunch. I’d forced myself to skip my walk in order to meet this writing goal for the day.
All for nothing. And I wasn’t even PMSing.
Looking back, this shouldn’t have been a big deal. But it was, and I know why. Because
I let it be.
I know, I know, now I sound like a meme, but it’s true. I am perfectly capable of replacing dark, discouraging thoughts with better ones. Sometimes I don’t want to, and that’s when I get into trouble. Because it’s easier to stay in the dark rather than rise into the light. It easier to complain than to find solutions. It’s easier to say “I’m not good enough” rather than to square your shoulders and say, “What’s one thing I can do better today?”
Not everything. Don’t think about that, it will dive bomb you into discouragement oblivion. Push back one thought, break free of a little guilt, look around and smell the roses (ignore the weeds, you can pull them later), call a friend, do something for someone else.
Discouragement is normal. We all go through it, but we don’t have to let it drag us down. Put on your favorite song. Go for a walk. Order pizza for dinner. Play a game. Read a book or watch a show. Take a time-out and come back to it with a better attitude. Decide that you’re in charge, not those stupid whispers in your ear that bring you down. Trust me, you’ll be happier. I am, when I can do it. It’s rarely easy, but it’s always worth it.