When Things Get Dark – Turn On The Lights…
Have you ever felt a little discouraged, a little down, maybe even a little hopeless? We all have and it’s what you do when this feeling begins to creep in that makes all the difference.
I was sitting this morning writing in preparation for an upcoming “Keynote” presentation when my mind drifted… (does yours ever do that?). I thought back to a time not that long ago, when a series of events, one right after the other, left me exhausted, and I felt discouragement slipping into the recesses on my mind.
It all begins so innocent, so subtle. A little thought enters… “you could have done it better”, or “you should have been more prepared”. We can be quite harsh on ourselves at times. But as soon as I realized these thoughts were taking over, driving me down, I paused to take a different view of the thoughts.
You see, unless you interfere with the pattern, break the flow of self-condemnation and abasement; you will rapidly lose the strength to combat the problem. Before long, you become overwhelmed, with your focused shifted to a direction where solutions seem too far away to reach.
Before I go on, I want you to know, that no matter what has happened, it’s never too late to turn it around, and turn it around in a big way…, but first you have to “turn it on”.
“Turning it on” refers to the release of an endless source of energy, ideas, and creativity that lies within all of us. It never goes away, but we can allow it to become hidden, buried, and disguised so that we do not recognize it any longer. In fact, in time we can completely forget it is even there.
Let’s first take a closer look at discouragement so we can better understand the challenge.
- Universal. Almost everyone has been discouraged at one time or another.
- Recurring. You may overcome discouragement one week, only to face it again the next.
- Contagious. Watch out for those who want to pull you down by indulging in negativity and self-pity.
- Unpredictable. You never know when it will strike you or a loved one.
- Temporary. It will pass if you respond correctly.
Discouragement differs from disappointment. When our expectations aren’t met, we feel disappointed. But discouragement, a feeling of despair and despondency, is a choice. We can choose to remain dejected or determine to work through our feelings and overcome them. So we may ask, “what are the causes of discouragement”?
The causes of discouragement are…
- Inability to please others
- Physical or verbal abuse
- Unanswered prayer
- Lack of proper recognition
- Financial pressure
- Health problems
- Unexplained adversity
- Feelings of worthlessness
We may also ask, “what will happen to me if I allow discouragement to remain”?
The consequences of discouragement are…
- Divided attention—If you are discouraged, you may not be able to work wholeheartedly.
- Placing blame—When you feel down, be careful not to dwell on the wrongs of others.
- Anger and depression—Unless you address the inner roots of discouragement, you will never overcome negative feelings.
- Estrangement—People push others away by constantly grumbling.
- Loss of confidence—Every aspect of your life will suffer when you feel unsure of yourself.
- Negative spirit—Remembering and rehashing painful events.
- Unwise decisions—Discouragement can cloud your judgment.
H. Spiritual drift—Depression is fertile ground for seeds of doubt.
So how do you find the inner strength, remove the mask that hides the assets required to depart from the discouragement and “turn it on”. Let’s take a look at the cure!
- Look within yourself. Ask, Why am I discouraged?
- Look up. Faith has the ability to rescue you from harmful attitudes.
- Look back. Don’t dwell on hurtful things in the past. Instead, think about God’s faithfulness to deliver you.
- Look ahead. Focus on what God is doing now in your life. Realize the fact that you are special, designed with a purpose and part of a much larger “strategic plan”. Then, be encouraged by what He has planned for your future.
Then, once we have mentally and spiritually dealt with the challenge, there are some specific steps we can take.
- Rest. Physical and emotional exhaustion often lead to discouragement.
- Nourish. When your body is depleted from the healthy foods it needs and the water it craves, your resistance to discouragement is weakened.
- Reorganize your life. In other words, evaluate your use of time, energy, and other resources. Make sure you’re doing the right things in the right way. Clean house, organize your desk and make ready for a new flow of energy.
- Resolve to trust God. Believe that He is in control (Ps. 103:19), loves you, and will never leave you (Heb. 13:5). He can turn any adversity into something beautiful, something good.
- Resist discouragement. Ask God to reveal the best response to your difficulty. You will be amazed at the difference a positive attitude makes.
Are you tired of being discouraged? You don’t have to stay that way. Whether or not the situations around you change, you can experience joy, peace, and contentment. Circumstances don’t have to dictate emotions. Read the Bible and allow Scripture to permeate your mind and heart. Discouragement will lose its foothold, and joy will return.
Then there’s one last step…, the step that can make all the difference.
You see at the root of the problem was some thought, plan, or responsibility that you did not act upon, or that you acted incorrectly upon. Now with renewed energy and cleared thinking, take action to resolve the challenge, do the work, and make the most of your newfound clarity and direction.
There are countless examples of discouragement in the lives of famous and accomplished people. In fact it is almost without exception found in the lives of those we respect as the greatest leaders of all time. But though discouraged, they did not allow it to take their lives from them. They “took action” and turned the darkness into light.
You, as I, as many others, can do the same thing. The best time to start, is always…, now!