7 Ways to Conquer Discouragement


Discouragement – we all have dealt with it and we all will again. Life consists of ups and downs, setbacks and successes. You try hard but didn’t make the cut for the job or the team. You studied and studied but you didn’t get the grade you needed. You exercise and watch what you eat and the scale doesn’t move. There seems to be a never ending list of obstacles to get over before you can start the business you’ve dreamed of. All these scenarios can and most often do end in that dreaded state called discouragement.

Courage –

the mental or moral strength to venture or persevere and withstand danger, fear, difficulty

“Dis” –

do the opposite of, deprive of

Discouragement –

to be deprived of mental or moral strength to venture, persevere or withstand fear and difficulty.

Discouragement shows up very often when our expectations (what we want to happen) don’t line up with reality (what actually happened). In those situations we may have had unrealistic expectations – how long something would actually take, how much money it would take or how many different things you would need to learn.


  1. Sleeplessness – mind consumed with anxiety and worry
  2. Restlessness – hard to settle and focus
  3. Complacency – loss interest in activities you usually enjoy
  4. Negative thoughts – get caught in a web of negativity
  • Giving up – stop thinking about or pursue the activity that has been derailed
  • Feelings of hopelessness – never going to get this thing I want
  • Blaming self for the “failure” – I’m so stupid, I’m too ugly, something must be wrong with me

cartoon girl looking full of discouragement



Discouragement is a slow but methodical killer that feeds upon the unresolved disappointments of your life. Andy Drymaiski, licensed psychologist


  • Depression
  • Loss of relationships
  • Sadness
  • Ill health
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Giving up on life
  • Stop trying or taking any risks
  • Expecting more failures
  • Self-loathing


Discouragement steals hope and undermines your faith in the value and purpose of life. With cynicism, it sews seeds of bitterness and resignation. It sours you to life. True to its name, it relieves you of your courage, a precious gift of the heart.  Andy Drymaiski, licensed psychologist



Actions to take immediately

  1. Acknowledge, name it and accept it.

  • “See it. Right then in the moment that you sense yourself feeling discouraged, you must realize it fully and see it for what it is.
  • Name it. Now that you recognize it, you have to admit what it is and call it by its name, ‘discouragement.’ When you name the negative emotion, it loosens its hold on you and you take authority over it.
  • Accept it. You see it for what it is and you don’t resist or judge it.
  • Talk it out. Find a person that you feel safe with, someone who knows and understands you and confess this feeling of discouragement. This way, you start to release the feeling of confinement that discouragement creates.”  Agapi Stassinopoulos https://www.huffpost.com/entry/discouragement-tips_b_3071687
  1. Create an immediate success

Find something you know you can success at and do it soon. This feeling of success, even though it might be small and fairly unimportant will help bring you back into balance. It will even out some of the negative feelings associated with the discouragement.

  1. Exercise

  • Take your dog for a walk
  • Ride your bike
  • Do yoga
  • Dance in the kitchen to Pandora

Exercise increases your energy and releases endorphin which makes your feel better.

cartoon girl using yoga to deal with discouragement

Actions for when your emotions have evened out a bit.

Here is when you will find the best understanding of the present feeling of discouragement, and a way to avoid the crushing, soul numbing effects of future discouragement.

  1. Take time to analyze

What went wrong?

Did I over estimate?


Was the timing wrong?

What can I do differently next time?

What did I learn about the process?

What did I learn about myself?

This questions need to be asked when you are in a better emotional place. Asking yourself these questions when you are in the midst of an emotional crisis will only end up with negative and self-blaming answers. Your emotions can and will hi-jack rational analysis.

Rational judgement gets corrupted by emotion very easily, so what seems like a logical flow of thought is completely ridiculous from an outside perspective. Emotion and rational thought are too intertwined to be completely separated.
Scott Young

  1. Examine yourself talk

What are you saying to yourself about this setback? Is it statements like?

“I am a failure.”

“I’ll take a risk again.”

“I am worthless.”

“I never get anything right.”

This kind of self-talk isn’t unusual but it is destructive. Negative self-talk is powerful in keeping us discouraged longer than we should be.

Negative thinking can spiral our emotions out of control, turning what was minor setback to a huge upset. Negative self-talk will eventually cripple your ability to take even small risks because you will be paralyzed with fear of failure.

We need to flip the switch to Positive statements.

“Well I am glad I tried.”

“Now I know what to do differently next time.”

“Look at all I’ve learned how to do.”

“I have time to try again.”

You will bounce back faster if you are speaking positive statements to yourself.

I have written in more detail about self-talk check it out.

cartoon girl thinking of her discouragement

  1. Recognize the attempt as courage and learn from it.

 Acknowledge all that you accomplished even though you didn’t meet your planned outcome.

  • You pushed yourself out of your comfort zone by passing previously set barriers.
  • You stepped outside your past limitations, learning a new skill, pushing past fears, or you just “sucked it up” and did something you considered too hard.Ultimately, inner qualities such as courage, discipline and skill will create a greater impact on your life than the success or failure of one encounter.  Scott Young

Don’t see the setback as a negative event.

Thomas Alva Edison said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

If we didn’t get the result we wanted or when we wanted it, we just get to begin again with new information. We can determine that failure isn’t bad but rather good because it taught us something. It has provided an opportunity to pluck up our courage, see life with new eyes.

  1. Remind yourself of your goal

What is it that you were going after? Remind yourself of what you wanted; imagine what it will feel like when it happens, visualize what life will be like with it. What will it mean and do for your life? This exercise can be empowering and motivating to keep you moving forward

Acting courageously involves taking risks. Risking failure, rejection,  a  possible loss of some kind. But the flip side is that you could get acceptance, success and gain much. You know what you have right now, you aren’t happy with it – you are at a cross roads take a chance or take the sure way which means more of the same unhappiness.

Staying discouraged is a stagnant life, one that will be devoid of joy, contentment, peace and personal satisfaction.

Try these steps. Begin to see failure as a setback, one that you can and will bounce back from.




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