Since we are on the 30 day Encouragement Challenge, maybe it's a good idea to look at what discouragement actually is...
Discouragement from the dictionary is:
1. to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence; dishearten; dispirit
2. to dissuade
3. to obstruct by opposition or difficulty; hinder
4. to express or make clear disapproval of; frown upon: i.e. discourage the expression of enthusiasm
Synonyms: abash, afflict, alarm, appall, awe, beat down, bother, break one's heart, bully, cast down, chill, confuse, dampen, dash, daunt, deject, demoralize, deprecate, depress, dismay, disparage, distress, droop, frighten, intimidate, irk, overawe, prostrate, repress, scare, throw cold water on, trouble, try, unnerve, vex, weigh
Antonyms: encourage, hearten, inspire, inspirit
Read over that list and let it sink it deeply.... think of the time where you have had some of these things done to you or have done them to others.... ouch. That's a hard list. As parents, we discourage our children quite often... with good intentions of course. We don't want our child to be embarrassed or have unrealistic expectations and be disappointed so to save them from that, we discourage them. I do it too! My youngest child boldly tells me right out "You don't think I can do it!" Then I reply, "I'm just afraid that if you can't do it you will be hurt". And she says "You are already hurting me by saying that". Yikes.... she's right. I'm doing it out of love, but it's not building her up. Somehow there must be a way to encourage without setting someone up with unrealistic expectations. It's a fine art that we all need to cultivate.
When I look at the list of synonyms I actually feel angst! We all have memories of being discouraged, maybe even recent ones. It's a horrible thing to have someone "beat you down" or "break your heart". Being "bullied" is terrifying for students and adults. It's awful to have someone say something that spins you into "confusion" or "dampens" and "dashes" your spirits. How awful to have that "daunting" feeling and worse to be "dejected" and "demoralized". "Depression" can come out of discouragement and grave "distress". To be "frightened" or "intimidated" changes our brain chemistry and to have someone "throw cold water" on what we've worked so hard to achieve "troubles" and "unnerves" us.
Whew! You get the point. It's all negative and negative only begets negative. You cannot get positive results from laying negative on someone! We have to keep it all positive. We need to "encourage".... "hearten" them... and "inspire". This builds! Focus on the positive. We are all on a journey and none of us has arrived yet. Take the hands of the people around you and march on with confidence and encouragement.
If you have been discouraged... let it go. Let it wash off your spirit. Take the intentions that may have some value and then move on. Breathe in the new, fresh and positive and be encouraged today! It's good for the soul!