Six Steps for Overcoming Discouragement

Everybody feels down sometimes. Life doesn't go the way we'd hoped, our goals seem unreachable, and discouragement sets in. Life seems barren and hopeless.


But one of the great things about becoming . . . (ahem) “a woman of a certain age” is the ability to remember that even the worst situations don't last forever, and that how I feel right now isn't necessarily my permanent truth. Feelings change. Even more important, we can change our feelings.

Here (in no particular order) are some steps I try to take when I'm feeling down and discouraged.

  1. Acknowledge the feelings. It's not about pretending you don't feel what you feel. It's not even about telling yourself to “knock it off” or “get over it.” Feelings are what they are, and mental health experts generally agree that it's pretty unhealthy to try to ignore or hide your feelings. So go ahead and feel them. But you don't necessarily want to dump them on the people in your life. One really helpful exercise is to journal about them. Get a pretty notebook (that nobody else will ever see!) or open up a Word file and write for ten or thirty or sixty minutes, dumping your thoughts and feelings onto the page. Be blunt and honest. Nobody ever has to see it, but sometimes just putting your feelings into words helps you get a handle on them. My favorite place to express my feelings privately is a free journaling website called Penzu. It's private and secure (they use military-grade encryption to protect your online journal) and it has free apps for your mobile devices, too, so you can journal anywhere using your iPhone or iPad or other mobile device.
  2. Get some sleep. Maybe it's just me, but discouragement often gets the better of me when I'm tired. It's amazing what a good night's sleep–or a nap–can do for your perspective. IMG_0521
  3. Get outside and go for a walk. Research has shown that exercise can lift your mood. When I'm feeling discouraged, my inclination is to sit like a lump and feel sorry for myself, but if I can get my shoes on and get outside in the fresh air–especially if there are trees and sunshine and birds singing–well, that can change everything.
  4. Talk to a friend. Sometimes all we need is a sympathetic friend who'll hear our pain and then encourage us.
  5. Find someone you can help. Maybe it seems simplistic, but for me, the quickest way to drag myself out of the dumps is to get my focus off myself and turn my attention to someone else's needs. It's pretty likely that someone else around you is discouraged too. Offer her a word of support and encouragement. Hearing yourself say those encouraging words will lift your own spirit.
  6. Give thanks. This is the big challenge I've set for myself this year: look for something to be thankful for in every situation, no matter how crummy. For me, this probably is the single most important key to my mood, and the one I have the most control over. We can't always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we look at them. So in every situation, ask yourself this important question: What can I be thankful about in this? Go back to that journal and make a list of everything you can think of to be thankful for. If you're a person of faith, pray–out loud so your ears can hear what your mouth is saying–and verbalize your gratitude, even if it's just for the fact that you don't have to go through this lousy thing alone.

Are these steps cure-alls? Will they change your circumstances? Nope. But they can change the way you see your circumstances. And honestly, that change in perception can change everything.

What about you? Do any of these things help you when you're discouraged? Do you have other suggestions for improving your outlook? Please share them in the comments.
2013-04-20 signature blank background copy.png
Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Do You Have a Comfort Zone? Guest Post (& Giveaway!) by Sharon Srock

I'm pleased to welcome author Sharon Srock to I Was Just Thinking . . . . Sharon's here to share a reminder of the faithfulness of the God who sees us. Be sure to check at the end of the post to find out how to get a chance for a free copy of Sharon's latest novel.

Do you have a comfort zone? You know, that place you live where…you might not have everything you want…you might not have everything you feel like God promised you…but it’s a “good enough” place to wait, while you wait.

Jacob had a place like that. God had promised the land to Abraham and his family. As the promised moved down the line, Jacob found himself comfortable in the house of his Uncle/father-in-law.

Joseph had a place like that. God gave him dreams as a youth, but I wonder, as time wore on and life seemed to move in a drastically different direction, if he thought he’d misunderstood. I’ll bet life was pretty good being second in charge of Egypt during those seven years of plenty.

Esther had it easy in the palace in the days before Haman’s plot. Mary was a “good Jewish girl” engaged to a “good Jewish guy”… Then, something happened to each of them that changed the course of their lives.

Throughout the waiting, throughout the time of comfort, and the upheavals that came later, God’s plan for these individuals never changed. Our lives are like the seasons on a calendar. Times of rest (winter), times for stretching the parameters (spring), times of growth (summer) and times of bleakness (fall). Each of those seasons is a challenge to thrive and be what God called us to be. Sometimes the path God puts us on may not seem like the path to our destiny. I’m sure Jacob had questions while he worked fourteen years for his wives. Joseph must have wondered about his dreams while he spent years in an Egyptian prison. But God knew. God always knows.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 11:29 (KJV)

I love the last six words of that verse: expected, planned, promised. My life is not a fluke. I am not a mistake. Every step of my childhood has been planned by the Father.

Where are you in this season of your life? Where do you want to be? What are you doing to get there?

Thank you to Sharon for bringing this encouraging message to I Was Just Thinking . . . 

Sharon and her publisher have offered a free introduction to her Women of Valley View series. Just click on the title to download it for yourself. You can buy your own e-book copy of Sharon's newest release, The Women of Valley View: Terri, at any of the following retailers:

Barnes and Noble:
Pelican book group:

NOTE: I'm excited to offer a free copy of The Women of Valley View: Terri to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment below with your answer to one of Sharon's questions, and be sure to include your email address in your comment. I'll announce the winner during the first week of May!


Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in rural Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her grandchildren. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and currently serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon’s debut novel, The Women of Valley View: Callie, released in October 2012. The second in the series, The Women of Valley View: Terri, releases in April 2013.

Connect with Sharon at her blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Goodreads.


2013-04-20 signature blank background



Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Grateful In Spite of Myself

The week of April 15 was a rough one. Tragedies of various kinds consumed the airwaves and social media sites. Watching these tragedies unfold, I cried more last week than I have in all the weeks combined so far this year.

GriefThe misery I've observed from a distance has made me acutely aware of just how much I have to be grateful for–big things and little ones–and more determined to keep those things at the forefront of my mind. So this morning, I just wanted to share ten things I'm grateful for as I write this post.

  1. Warm slippers and hot green tea on a chilly morning.
  2. Courageous men who run toward the scene of a disaster, seeking to help, without thinking of their own safety.
  3. A husband who believes my dreams matter.
  4. Sunshine and blue skies over the newly green trees outside the window of my home office.
  5. Technology that lets me work from home in my yoga pants and warm slippers.
  6. The privilege of introducing people to books written by authors I know personally.
  7. That my grown children like to come home, and enjoy each other’s company.
  8. New friends who encourage and challenge me.
  9. That the people I love most are safe and healthy.
  10. Second (and third and fourth) chances.

This is what I've been trying to learn in the last year or so: joy is a choice. It's not dependent on circumstances, but on attitude.

Joy is a Choice

By nature and by training, my tendency is to see the things that are “wrong” in any situation. That can be a recipe for despair. I don't want to spend my days in despair. So I've undertaken the discipline of looking for things to be grateful for. In every situation, no matter how unpleasant, it's possible to find something to be thankful for.

I am determined to remember that. I am determined to be grateful.

What about you? Are you struggling with a difficult situation right now? Can you find something to be grateful for, even in the midst of that situation?

When times are hard, we need to encourage one another.

Share something you're grateful for in the comments below.

I'll be thankful to hear from you. 🙂

2013-04-20 signature blank background copy.png
Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me