Everyone alive has had or will have the opportunity to face discouragement. It seems that “misfortune” would be a better word for it than “opportunity”, but the fact is, discouragement is an important part of life. It lets us know we’ve tried something that matters to us, it means we’re stretching, growing, and becoming the person we hope to be. But it’s also difficult to overcome. So how do we do it? How do we get past the disappointment of a failed attempt, unrealized dream, or broken heart?
How do we get over the door that looks as if it has been slammed firmly in our face? It might not be as easy as just opening a window or ordering a new front door from Uber Doors, but neither is it impossible. Just keep these few things in mind and you’ll get over whatever hurdle is in your path.
1. Keep Going
The main difference between simple disappointment and lasting defeat is nothing more than timing. Every success story out there, every feel-good movie about the poor kid who makes good, or the hard-luck soul who finally hits pay-dirt tells the same tale: people who succeed are people who choose to keep going. Orson Welles once famously said “If you want a happy ending, that depend, of course, on where you stop your story.” If you are facing discouragement just remember that this isn’t the end of your story. Yell “Change scene!” to the universe and keep going.
2. Recognize the Power of Personal Choice
Another element of getting the most out of discouragement is to realize that you are the one with the greatest power to choose how it affects you. Discouragement can feel like a freight train that runs you over without remorse, but the anguish you feel is actually coming from your own mind and heart, and you alone have the power to change your perception of how much power it has over you. Keep reminding yourself that you are on a journey to success, it will take time, ups and downs, and small failures and successes along the way. This is your party; you get to choose how you feel about it. Like the old song says, you can “cry if you want to” or you can get up and dance in the rain.
3. Look Closely at New Directions
As discouraging as disappointment is, it also provides us with a temporary benefit: time to reconsider. When things are going along smoothly, clicking right along like a train on a track, we seldom slow down to look around and see if there might be something better in a slightly different direction. When a track you’re following ends abruptly, it affords you a chance to see what you may be missing while you’re chasing your dream with single-minded intensity. Don’t stop moving altogether, but do take advantage of the slower pace to check your other opportunities. It might be that a closed door is the perfect thing to move you towards a completely new venture that you may have never considered before.
4. A Locked Door Isn’t Impenetrable
Those closed doors can be a pretty intense slap to the ego and self-confidence, but it can also be cause for hope. A closed door doesn’t always mean “never”, sometimes it just means “not yet”. Every lock has a key. If the goal you’ve set for yourself is still out of reach, do some serious soul-searching and honest self-reflection. Why is the door closed? Why did you get a “no”? Are you lacking a skill? Skills can be learned. Are you missing some experience? Experiences can be had with time and hard work. Turn this opportunity into a mirror to show you clearly who and what you are right now. Success is a journey, remember? Be honest with your expectations of yourself, your habits, your abilities. Look at what you can and can’t do. It you’re weak in an area that is essential to your success, buff up. Seek out opportunities to serve and practice.
Most of all, don’t allow discouragement to settle into the fabric of your being. You are more than just one failed effort. No effort is worthless that moves you further along the path of becoming who you want to be. If you have a door of opportunity worth walking through, then keep knocking, keep searching for the right key, and just keep going. You’ll make it, and when you do, there won’t be many doors you won’t be able to sail right through.
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