What To Do With Discouragement

I have spent time with discouragement.

Perhaps never more so than since launching The Lightning Notes. Briefly, a list of discouragements, little and large:

I’ve gotten: No Thank You’s, No’s, and – more often than not – no answer.
I’ve been told: What you’re doing won’t work. And: Your writing’s nothing special.
I’ve been asked: When are you getting a real job?
I’ve thought: There’s no way I’m going to get from where I am to where I want to be.

That’s a tidy list. But discouragement is not tidy. It’s big and sprawling and goes right to your bones and convinces you that all your doubts and fears are true. It knocks the wind and – faithful to its etymology – the courage right out of you.

But we exit the womb and enter the world with too much life in us to live to cede our time to that. So, these days, when I get felled by discouragement, I’ve begun to ask myself one question:

Who are you going to be when you get knocked down?

Beat and broken? Or resilient and on the rise?

For me, it’s not a one-and-done question. I have to keep on asking myself. Every few minutes, every few hours, every few days. Whenever discouragement moves in again, I have to choose who I’m going to be again.

Then I spend my time with the people who lift me up. And fill my mind with the ideas that lift me up. And go to the places, listen to the music, read the writing that lifts me up.

Which all helps me get on my feet again. And helps reminds me of a line from the poet Jeffrey McDaniel. A line I’m working to remember in a big and sprawling way that goes right to my bones:

“I’ve had the wind knocked out of me, but never the hurricane.”

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