Do you ever get discouraged? The definition of discouragement is 1) the act of making something less likely to happen or of making people less likely to do something 2) a feeling of having lost hope or confidence
If that is the definition of discouragement, than what is the definition of encouragement? It is: 1) the act of making something more appealing or more likely to happen 2) something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.
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I believe that most of us look to others when we are discouraged to have them encourage us. We talk to our peers about our situation hoping they will encourage us or perceive the situation from a different perspective. We seek wisdom from various sources or rationalize that things aren't as bad as they appear.
No matter how positive or upbeat we live our lives, there are times we can get discouraged. We didn't get the job we were hoping to get. The relationship we were in didn't turn out the way we expected it. The money we received was not as much as we had hoped. We didn't win. We got bad news. The list goes on....
Note that discouragement is not described as being happy or unhappy. We can be discouraged about the way something turned out without being unhappy about it. This is where the turning point is -- what we do with that emotion.
I can be discouraged that I didn't win but choose to be encouraged to try again. I can be discouraged about bad news I was not expecting, but learn from it and figure out how to turn it around.
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The interesting thing I noticed about the definition of both words is that discouragement and encouragement are an act that WE do. It is not done TO us. We perform the act. We choose to be discouraged in a situation or encouraged by it and make the decision to change it.
The second part of the two definitions is an emotion - a feeling of having lost hope OR a feeling of being more hopeful, more determined.
This is the way I have chosen to live my life. I am a realist. One of my mottoes has been: Faith does not deny reality. I refuse to deny the reality of a situation. Bad stuff happens to good people. That is a fact and one we cannot deny. How we respond is of utmost importance. Do we get angry? discouraged? vengeful? or........ do we accept reality and determine to turn it around?
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I understand that sometimes we can be overwhelmed by what happens and it is very easy to get discouraged. It is a lot more difficult, when you are feeling low, to change the way our thoughts want to take us. We have to choose to encourage ourselves. But, we also have to remember that faith does not reality. We have to believe things will change. We have to believe we can change them before they will turn around. The reality is -- it happened. The faith (hope) is -- things will get better. Herein lies our encouragement.
Discouragement is a powerful weapon. It is a weapon that wants to rob us of being encouraged. It is a weapon that will destroy us if we allow it. We must choose not to allow it to take hold of our thoughts and our actions.
The most often asked questions I get after I have shared my life story are: HOW did you do it? How did you go on? Why didn't you just give up? Where did you get your strength?
Last week I had the privilege of sharing my story on the radio. The interviewer asked what tips I could give people to prepare themselves for bad times, bad news.
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There is no way we can prepare ourselves for bad news unless we choose to live in a negative world, always expecting the worst to happen. The secret is to NOT allow discouragement to take root, to immediately turn our thoughts to what we can do to improve the situation. It takes time and it takes work, but it will give us a strength we did not know we had.
What about you? Is it easy for you to look at the bright side? Have you ever had a situation where you know your attitude made it go one way or the other?
Photos courtesy of mediawebapps.com, quotesnimages.blogspot.com, stevelaube.com, socialmichael.enpower
Author of Battered Hope, Health Coach and Inspirational Speaker
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