Getting discouraged is easy. One thing goes wrong, one obstacle pops up, and the brain starts saying, “This is hard. Let’s not bother.” The more things go wrong and the more obstacles pop up, the more the brain says this, until we agree. “Yep, it is too hard. Let’s not bother.”

I deal with discouragement on a regular basis. Things are hard sometimes. Health issues get in the way; so do other things that are going on in my life. Stress from finances or worrying about family members can interfere. Sometimes someone else needs me to do something for them, and I don’t have enough bandwidth to handle their thing plus mine.

When we feel discouraged, it’s equally easy to give up entirely. To let the discouragement take the reins and stop us from continuing with what we were trying to do. I’ve dealt with that as well.

It is absolutely okay to stop doing something if it becomes too stressful, isn’t something you want to do, or no longer serves you. But if it’s something you do want to do or feel you need to do, you can combat the discouragement.

That isn’t as easy as it sounds, of course. Sometimes when you feel like giving up, that urge is too strong to “just get over.” (And let’s be real here–“just getting over” anything isn’t always possible. Some things are not just a case of mind over matter.)

When you’re at that point, take a break. Not a permanent one like the discouragement might want, but a temporary one. Give yourself a little while to do something you do actually enjoy, or to do something that gives your brain a rest.

Talk to someone supportive. This might be a friend or family member, or someone you know through networking, or even a paid coach if you work with one. People tend to hide when they’re feeling discouraged or stressed, but hiding it doesn’t help. Find someone you trust, and talk about how you’re feeling. Not only might that help you, but acknowledging that negative feelings happen, and that that’s okay, will help others as well.

Finally, be kind to yourself. There isn’t anything wrong with you for feeling discouraged, or for the struggles that are causing the discouragement. We’re all human, and part of being human is recognizing that sometimes things don’t work the way we hoped–and that however we feel about that is okay.

When you’re ready, come back to whatever was discouraging you, if that’s what you really want to do. Don’t be afraid to walk away if it’s something you genuinely don’t want to do anymore, but know that you can take a few steps back to deal with discouragement and then come back to it later. Taking a break won’t be the end of the world, or the end of what you’re trying to accomplish, and taking that break might be what you need in order to stay the course.

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