Try these tips for dealing with discouragement when life’s struggles have you down, whether you’re struggling financially or in other ways.
Dealing With Discouragement
My question is mostly for Jill, but also for Tawra. I have been reading your site for years now, and have owned Dining on a Dime for years also. I am a 25 year old wife and mother of two small boys. My question is how did you ladies keep yourselves out of the horrible pit of despair and sadness that sometimes people find themselves in while going through financial struggles? I am trying my best to get my family out of this mess, but the guilt and sadness are eating away at me. Thank you.
I have been asked this often but it is one of those questions I hesitate to answer only because my personality, my situation and my background is so different from others that what worked for me may not always work for someone else.
I sometimes see motivational speakers, preachers or counselors say, “This is what I did when this happened…” People often try to do exactly what they did and when it doesn’t work become even more discouraged. I truly don’t want that to happen with regard to anything I say to you.
Here are some ways I handled discouragement that are general enough that they should help you:
- Stop allowing having money or lack of money to be tied up with having or lacking peace and joy. Having money isn’t what brings us peace or joy. When you learn to have true peace and joy you will have it even when you lose everything.
- Stop being afraid.We often are afraid of what is going to happen or in most cases what “might” happen. Often the things we are afraid will happen never do. We have wasted all our time and energy on something that never came to pass.
If you’re a chronic worrier, you might make yourself a worry book. Each time you get into a panic about something, write it down. Later, write down whether or not it really ended up happening, the date it happened and how and when it was solved. You will be surprised to see that most things didn’t happen at all or were easily solved when they did.
May 1, 2010 – My car broke down. I know it will cost me thousands to fix or I have to buy a new car.
May1, 2010 – neighbor checked car. It was only a loose wire. Cost nothing.
- Negative emotions do nothing but paralyze you. Instead of sitting and stewing about how bad things are, use your mind to figure out a solution or better yet, because you aren’t exhausted with worry, get up and fix the problem.
For example, if I go to bed and start worrying about how little I have to spend on groceries, instead of laying there tossing and turning, I could get up and make a weeks worth of menus and grocery list. Then I could study it to see how I might be able to save even more. Then I could go to bed knowing I have done the best I can for the moment.
- “But there is no way to fix my problem.” Most of the time, there is. It may take time and work and it may not be the solutionyou had in mind but often these solutions work better than the ones we originally planned. We can focus so much on one answer that we can’t open our minds to other options, even though our original answer may not be the best one.
When I became ill I was so discouraged because I couldn’t find a cure. There was no way to fix my problem. I fought it for so long and that made me even more ill. My solution was to be cured, but that wasn’t the only solution. The other was to accept my situation and work within it the best I could. Part of the result was the LivingOnADime.com website and our book. Staying sick wasn’t the solution I would have chosen, but in some ways this one has been better results.
- Set your timer. When I would find myself overwhelmed with despair or having a pity party, I would set a timer for 15 minutes. and tell myself, “I want you to worry and stew as hard as you can for 15 minutes. Then, when your time is up you will go about your business and forget about it.” The funny thing was I ended up spending most of that time laughing at myself because, try as I would, I couldn’t make myself worry when I set the timer. Then my time was up and I had to get busy. As weird as this sounds, it truly worked for me.
- False guilt. One of Satan’s greatest weapons is guilt. We may stand strong and not do drugs, drink or murder, but he can always destroy us just as badly with false guilt. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people and we are imperfect so why should we expect ourselves and our circumstances to be perfect? You do the math. It won’t add up.
- We will do things wrong and make mistakes but thank goodness the Bible is full of the word forgiveness, from God, from others, to others and to ourselves. If you don’t think Satan is using false guilt to attack us, just look at what happens in your life and how it affects you and your family when you give in and wallow in it.
- Sadness isn’t wrong. It is a legitimate feeling. It is only wrong when we are sad over the wrong things or we let it, like any other emotion, consume and control us. Sometimes we need to just sit down and have a good cry. There is nothing wrong with that. Trust me, I cried a lot. God would comfort me and when I was done He would say, “Okay now get up and do this…”
Last, but most important, it was God who pulled me through. If I had acted the way I wanted to and the way I felt, I would have been a basket case. I don’t know how often God would pull me up by the seat of the pants and say, “No you don’t young lady. You have a family you need to love and take care of and Me to honor and glorify, so get over yourself.”
Then there were other times He would quietly comfort me and remind me that no matter what is going on in the world He is always there holding me, loving me and helping me. I wasn’t alone. I felt like a child does when she falls and hurts her knee. Even though there is physical pain for the moment, it is so wonderful to feel mom’s arms around us while she is kissing away our tears. It was almost worth getting hurt to be able to be that close to mom.
I don’t think we always need to get hurt to have God close. Sometimes, though, we get so busy and God misses us so much or sees we are getting off track and He allows us to stumble in order to get us back on the right path so we won’t get hurt worse. It is at those times we see He is there and He will comfort us.
Sadly, some of us will run from that comfort. Like a child who is bleeding and keeps yanking his hurt knee away, not allowing mom to fix it or to accept the comfort of her arms. The pain will usually last longer, often scar and the suffering is so much worse.
In the same way a mom loves us so much that she is willing to risk dying by going through childbirth, God gave His son to die an awful death for us. If He gave that much for us, we have to remember He loves us just as much and wants to help us in our everyday little things.
Here are 6 simple things to do to pull you out of discouragement or depression: (Of course if it is serious depression, you need to seek professional help.)
- Eat 5 meals a day.
- Get 8-9 hours sleep.
- Do some form of strenuous activity.
- 1 1/2 hours alone time.
- Do something pleasant. Something you enjoy.
- Do something social. This can be as simple as speaking to a store clerk.
You may say, “There is no way I can do all of these,” but for it to work you need to do them. Remember, you aren’t doing if forever– only a week or so to get you back on track.