Monday, October 4, 2010

How To Deal With Challenges And Discouragement.

We all feel challenges in our lives. These challenges can manifest themselves at work, at home, with our health, in our spiritual life. These challenges are often accompanied by discouragement. Discouragement can often happen when we survey the difficulties that lay before us. We can de-motivate ourselves because of the gap between the reality of where we are and the vision of where we want to be.

The first thing that usually happens when we find ourselves in that place of challenge and discouragement is that we don't think clearly or rationally. We are often in such a frenzied or frustrated state that we lose all objectivity. This loss of objectivity causes the evaporation of clarity. Often we will not do what would be wise, which is to seek counsel from a trusted advisor. We usually do the opposite, which is to run and hide.
The second thing we do is to separate ourselves from strengthening relationships. We create a distance between the outside world and ourselves. It's like we go and hide in a cave hoping that things will change. Make sure that you stand your ground with the people who can strengthen you. Stand your ground with your friends, your spouse, and your children. If you have a coach, call him/her immediately to help you move through the challenge and to help hold you accountable to the actions than need to be taken. Most people will tend to want to be alone, and that is the worst thing they can do.

This discouragement can often happen in the backwash of a great victory. Sometimes our most vulnerable moments come after a great victory. We can be vulnerable after a great victory at work or at home. And example would be, you have set a record pace for the first six months. You have earned more money in six months than you did all last year, and then you hit the wall of vulnerability. But now you find yourself in the backwash of a great victory. The great victory only becomes a memory. You have not prepared for this moment, so there is not a counter-assault planned. The energy and emotions that you invested to take the hill are spent, and now you are beginning to slide backward. This backwash can happen in any area of our lives. We could have made great strides with our spouse. We have achieved a mountain top experience in our relationship, and then the backwash hits. You think, "I should be ready for anything," but then find that you are not. NASA realized this challenge with the astronauts when they came back from the moon. They would have this beyond mountain top experience of personal achievement and then would slide into the abyss of depression. How do you top going to the moon?

The third condition most of us feel, as we face challenges in our lives, is that we become physically exhausted and emotionally spent after we have struggled to reach the pinnacle. As we stretch and strain to achieve greatness, we deplete the tanks of our physical energy and our emotional energy.

The only way to fill them to full again is extended rest and refreshment. If you are pushing empty in both tanks, it will take more than a weekend to complete the re-charge.

There is a Greek saying "You will break the bow if you keep it always bent." Some of us live under constant stress and tension. The bow never gets unstrung and relaxed. Are you putting yourself under relentless pressure? We will all break under that level of pressure. We must give ourselves time for rest and refreshment. Each person has his/her individual need level for rest and refreshment. I will often tell our clients that it's essential to learn your "rhythms of work." Your "rhythms of work" are how long and how hard you can work before burnout hits. When discouragement and frustration overcome you, and you just want to crawl into a ball that is a sure sign that your tanks are too low. We all need to know our "rhythms of work."

We must also realize that the physical tank will fill up much quicker than the emotional tank. When our emotional tank gets low, it takes longer to fill up again because the filling valve is smaller and slower. However, our body can recharge rather quickly with rest. A solid, restful weekend will usually refill your physical tank. Our emotions and our mind take much longer to recharge. A person might need a week or longer to feel emotionally rested and re-centered in his or her life.

Be sure to protect your emotional tank. Don't let anyone or thing control the level of this tank. We often will let our clients or employers take control of these valves. If we turn over the valve controls, we are in for a train wreck.

Lastly, don't get lost in self-pity. Self-pity can cause you to cultivate a victim mentality. It can say to you that you can't do any better. Self-pity will lie to you about everything. It will lie that your skills and abilities are not good enough even after your big victory. Self-pity is a pathetic emotion. It is an emotion that will drain your emotional tank rather than fill it. Self-pity is like being face-to-face with a Bengal Tiger. That tiger desires to claw you to shreds. Self-pity wants to get into your mind and do major damage.

Make sure that you stop the challenges and discouragement at your front gate. Don't separate yourself from your trusted advisors. If you don't have some trusted advisors seek them out. If you seek you will find. Prepare for the backwash after the victories. It happens to all of us. We have all been blessed with more gifts and talent than we use. Our calling in life is to use them all ... daily.

All The Best,


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