Moving Past Feelings of Discouragement
About a week ago, I had one of those days where I felt so overwhelmed by everything on my to-do list and I was discouraged by a few things that hadn’t worked out how I wanted them to in both of my careers. From there, my mind started to focus on how far I still feel from achieving the grand scale results that I want to see in my business and my life. Normally when this happens, I allow myself to feel these feelings for one day. I take a break from all the work and just enjoy down time, I take a bath, watch guilty-pleasure TV and take a full mental break. Then, the next day I feel recharged and ready to go.
But this time, the feelings didn’t go away. I felt just as tired and unmotivated to do anything productive when I woke up the next morning. I skipped the gym, skipped morning meditations and I stayed in bed until noon, watching Sweet Home Alabama. As the day went on, I started to think about everything that wasn’t working the way I wanted it to and feeling envious of the accomplishments my friends were posting on social media. Why haven’t I done a TedX talk yet, why haven’t I traveled the world, why haven’t I hosted transformational seminars for hundreds of people yet? By dinner time, I was miserable.
My husband took the time to prepare a delicious meal of zucchini pasta and meatballs with Gouda cheese, and instead of sharing my appreciation, I cried into my bowl of veggie pasta and vented about everything that wasn’t going right and why I wouldn’t succeed. I wanted my husband to tell me how right I was, that my feelings were justified and I should get back on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. But fortunately, my husband has not only embraced The Success Principles teachings from Jack Canfield along with me, but he has also been listening to Jocko Willink’s podcasts that are all about discipline and silencing the negative voice in your head that gets you into trouble.
He looked at me and said, “I don’t like listening to my wife put herself down this way. I know what you’re capable of, and I know it’s hard sometimes, but focusing on everything that’s not happening the way you thought it would is not serving you at all right now.”
I tried to argue back that “most of the time, I focus on the positive and what’s going right. I work really hard and I try to take responsibility for my outcomes, aren’t I justified in taking an entire weekend to vent and complain and make excuses and feel bad?” And he said, “Yes, a lot of the time you are that person. But you gave yourself yesterday to feel tired and to take a mental break from everything. You’re letting it get worse today by continuing to focus on the bad. There’s a lot of good things happening now too. Choose to be that person again who looks at the good. You could be that person all of the time if you choose to be.”
Now, I’ll be honest, at first I regretted having introduced him to the concept of taking responsibility and the power of choice, and I wanted to throw my meatballs at him… but deep down, I knew everything he was saying was exactly right. And I knew I would be so grateful later because he didn’t indulge my complaining, he didn’t justify my excuses and he didn’t encourage me to keep feeling like a victim to my circumstances.
My husband’s reaction got me to own that indulging my negative feelings and allowing them to stop me was my CHOICE. Negative feelings beget negative feelings. Indulging in your negative feelings doesn’t eventually make you feel better and create the results you want. However justified they may be, the whole point is, wallowing in them does not serve you. I’m not suggesting that negative feelings never serve a purpose, because I believe they do. But it’s how you respond to those feelings that matters.
After dinner, I grabbed my laptop and got to work on a training program I’m developing for a company. Despite my desire to get back on the couch, I chose to focus on one of the good things and immersed myself in the work I love to do. And by the time I was done, I felt like me again. I felt so excited about this new training opportunity and the calls I had coming up with my coaching clients that week, as well as the upcoming conferences I’m producing in my other job.
And in that moment, I recognized how powerful it is to have another person who will hold you accountable to not just your actions, but your mindset. As soon as I put my laptop down, I walked into the other room, threw my arms around my husband and thanked him for NOT telling me what I wanted to hear at dinner.
When I woke up the next morning, I still felt tired rather than energetic and happy. But I remembered a reading my husband shared with me from Jocko’s book, “Discipline Equals Freedom: A Field Manual.” He says that when you lack motivation, you need to rely on discipline. The voice in your head that tries to talk you into staying in bed, into binge-eating, and focusing on failures, that voice doesn’t get a vote today. Tell that voice it has no say, and get up and do what you need to do. So, I forced myself to get up and do my meditations and then I got to work and began to feel better and better as the day went on.
Some days this discipline is easier than others, but the more you stick with it, the easier it gets. And on those really hard days, having people around you who support you, believe in you, and hold you accountable to being your best self makes all the difference.