You're Not Discouraged, You're Just...


Feeling a little blue, down or discouraged?

Could be that life has presented you a serious, solid reason for that emotion: a huge set-back, a major new obstacle, an unforeseen circumstance.

On the other hand, sometimes I find myself feeling a little discouraged yet upon reflection, objectively, there’s no real reason that I can identify. I’ll bet the same happens to you.

So, I’ve been on a campaign this last month to write blogs that will help you “discouragement-proof” your mind and I would like to add this thought to the collection; sometimes when we feel discouraged, we really aren’t.

(I realize that if we “feel” discouraged” then, well, we are discouraged. What I mean, though, is that sometimes, the reason for our discouragement can be rather inconsequential. Or at least, easily solved.)

Let me just provide a few examples. Here are four common sources of “discouragement” that have super-simple solutions. I will start each one with the phrase, “You’re not discouraged, you’re just…”

1. Tired. Fact is, physical weariness attacks our mental resilience. You may have become so used to sleep deprivation that feeling tired feels normal! Simple solution: don’t underestimate the power of a nap or a good night’s sleep to get you back in the game!

2. Experiencing post-accomplishment blues. Here’s a little science on a phenomenon we’ve all experienced: feeling great while working on a big project, then feeling blue once it’s accomplished. Did you know that your brain releases dopamine, a hormone associated with both motivation and happiness, in anticipation of reward? Inc. Magazine explains it well:

So when you plan and know you're going to work for something, you're in biological position to feel good. Each milestone gives you another dopamine hit, which makes you want to keep going with the job. But when you reach your goal, that release of dopamine drops. It's harder for you biochemically to have joy.[1]

One simple solution: switch gears. Move immediately into a new goal. Transition right into a new project even if that only means starting to plan it and gather resources.

3. Laying a foundation. This one is kind of “pre-accomplishment blues”. You’ve got big plans or a big project but right now you’re doing a lot of extra work (without any reward in near sight) just to lay the basic foundation. So, yeah, that’s not necessarily super-exciting. It can be a let-down if you’ve just finished crossing the finishing line on something really rewarding.

Simple solution:  keep your mental vision of the ultimate outcome top-of-mind. Sure, you’ve got to do some grunt work now but think about how great you will feel when it’s all done!

4. Spiritually empty. Ouch! Have you been spending quality time with your Bible and in prayer? Isn’t it odd how easy it is to preach to others yet neglect our own devotional life. Well, you know the simple solution!

You may think of some other situations where you’re not really discouraged, you’re just…. whatever. If you do, please let me know what they are (and your proposed solution) in the comments below.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with just one more example. Sometimes, you’re not really discouraged, you’re just not having any fun! You’ve gotten so lost in your work or ministry that you don’t have a life!

If that’s the case for you, here’s a few really simple solutions: take a day off, play some golf, read a book, visit the grandkids, go fishing, take a ride in the country, take your spouse on a date, get some tickets to a ball game, go to a movie!

Think about it. Shaking your discouragement in some cases really may be that simple. Take a little time for yourself.

Remember that ultimately, God is in control. You can safely take a break here and there without the world coming to an end.

Lighten up!

You may find you aren’t really discouraged after all.

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[1] Retrieved on 2/2/19 from

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