This post is about fighting discouragement when you feel emotionally drained.
On the first of this month, I had a laparoscopic surgery to treat endometriosis and improve my chances of having a baby.
You probably think I was nervous about having a team of masked doctors snipping and fiddling around INSIDE my body, but NOPE.
I was in a great mood. Motivated! Upbeat!
You see, in my head, I had a plan.
And my plan went like this:
- Step 1 – have this surgery
- Step 2 – heal as fast as possible and then
- Step 3– start trying to conceive again as soon as possible.
I was focused on the end goal and I knew that this surgery was the way to get there.
Well, during recovery a week later, when I should have been getting ready to put my grand plan into action, I found that I just… COULDN’T.
I just couldn’t!
The thought of logging daily temperatures into the fertility app or peeing on another ovulation stick made me want to buy a one way ticket to a distant, remote village.
I could NOT.
I was a car that had completely run out of gas, and the gas, in my case, was motivation and emotional fortitude.
Emotional burnout was ALL I could feel.
I was tired of struggling with something that comes naturally to most women.
Tired of having to encourage myself all the time.
Tired of being on the brink of tears at any given moment and bursting into actual tears at the drop of a hat.
Tired of hoping.
Tired of making hard decisions.
Tired of picking up shattered expectations every failed month.
TIRED AND SO DOGGONE DISCOURAGED.
So now what? Even though my heart and my spirit were broken and spent, the goal is still the goal and my journey to fertility requires me to keep going despite the frustration.
To encourage myself to keep going, I’ve had to develop a tried and true formula of how to pick myself up when I’m completely down and out.
These are my steps for overcoming discouragement and repeated disappointment.
10 Steps To Take To Overcome Discouragement
1. Plan Yourself a Pity Party (but schedule an ending time)
Sometimes you just need to let the gravity of the situation wash over you.
You’re not wrong for feeling frustrated and discouraged… as long as you don’t plan to feel that way forever.
Plan your pity party- give yourself time to feel and acknowledge the hurt. BUT! Make sure to assign your pity party an ending time.
Tell yourself, I’m going to let myself sulk for this many minutes or just today or even for this week. Then after that time has passed, make up your mind to pick up the pieces and go after it.
For example, I’ve told myself that by the time I hit publish on this very post, I’m going to gather all of the strength I can muster and I’m going to keep trying.
When you give yourself permission to feel your feelings, with the knowledge that you’re going to move on soon, you get rid of a lot of guilt.
2. Read About Other People’s Breakthroughs
Sometimes when I need to refuel my will to keep going, I google something like “success after recurrent pregnancy loss” and read about other ladies that have overcome a complicated TTC journey.
EVERY single time I do this, I feel rejuvenated. You know why? Because I can see the possibilities again.
Success no longer feels abstract or out of reach.
You can get encouraged in whatever area you are struggling with in the same way. Try googling stories of people that have been in similar situations OR talk to others who have had the breakthrough you’re looking for.
Getting through the difficult situation won’t feel so impossible when you know other people have done it.
3. Take a Break
Feeling emotionally drained should be an automatic signal that you need a break somewhere.
When you’ve been stressed for a long time, it’s not unusual to develop burnout. When that happens, recover by giving yourself some time off. Granted, some things, like chronic illnesses for example, are impossible to take a break from. But, in the situations when you can afford a break, take it!
Recently, a friend shared how discouraged she had become from back-to-back unsuccessful relationships and pointless blind dates. For her peace of mind, she decided to take a “no-dating” break for a few months before trying again.
Don’t let things seem more of an emergency than they really are. To stay emotionally and mentally healthy, you need time off for your heart and mind to recover.
4. Confide In Someone
Emotional validation is when someone shows you that they understand and accept what you are feeling and going through.
When I share my struggle with my husband, sister or close friends, I feel heard and someone (besides myself for once) comforts and encourages me.
I know that sometimes it can be tough to find someone trustworthy and supportive enough to share your issues with. If you need help with that, I suggest that you read: “5 Ways to Know You’re Confiding in the Right Person”.
5. Look Around You! (Everyone is in a Struggle)
I don’t know if this is weird, but I find it extremely motivating to learn that even those that are rich and famous are struggling in the same ways that I am.
Did you know that: Michelle Obama had a miscarriage and used in vitro fertilization to get pregnant with both daughters, Malia and Sasha?
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife had recurrent miscarriages. Remy Ma had two ectopic pregnancies like me! Jimmy Fallon, Celine Dion, Courtney Cox, Beyoncé- they all struggled with infertility or pregnancy losses.
Learning these things help me realize that I’m not alone and that I’m not some dysfunctional woman. Knowing that others, despite their money and influence, are in the same position I am, helps me to realize that it’s not my fault and this is just life.
Try it! If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety for example, look at the statistics! Find out just how many others are going through a similar journey. You’re not strange, you’re not alone and you can make it!
6. Fill Your Life Up
My life and my identity are bigger than my fertility. When I take a step back and look at all the different aspects of me, I have to admit that there is so much more to this woman than this one issue.
The same is true for you. While you wait or work on your breakthrough, fill your life up in other areas. Take up a new hobby, work on personal development, help others!
Don’t live an empty life just focusing on one problem.
The fuller your life feels, the easier it will be to tap into your personal strengths and rebound from feeling emotionally spent.
7. Meditate on Encouraging Thoughts
Before my surgery, a good friend casually said something that really lifted my spirit.
When I told her what I was going through, she casually said “you’re such a strong woman”. Those five words encouraged me so much, she has no idea! Whenever I started getting discouraged, I would think about that statement and it would motivate me to live up to that strength.
What you think about directly shapes your everyday life.
If you want to regain your emotional strength, you need to consistently feed on words and thoughts that are positive and motivating.
Read "How To Be More Positive" for strategic changes you can make to eliminate negative thinking
8. Remind Yourself Of Past Victories
I often think about difficult times that I have already overcome and then use them as a point of reference to remember that I have what it takes to keep on going.
For example, are you tired of hearing ‘No’ when you apply for desired jobs? Think about how hard it was for you to pass that tricky class in school and look at you now. The class is passed and long forgotten.
Are you discouraged by a trail of failed relationships? Just remember how challenging it felt to save up for that car you really wanted. You thought you’d never see the end of that struggle but alas, you were determined and you succeeded.
That same determination hasn’t gone anywhere.
If we could keep going then, we can keep going now!
9. Be Nice to Yourself
The concept of self care is EVERYWHERE right now, isn’t it? For good reason.
Self care isn’t just about bubble baths and yoga. It’s about being gentle with yourself when life is overwhelming and frustrating! Some ways you can be kinder to yourself are:
- Don’t beat yourself up for not having it together all the time
- Avoid toxic comparisons
- Take a social media vacation
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to emotionally taxing commitments when you just can’t deal
For more ideas, read my list of 76 Great Self Care Ideas That Beat Burnout Every Time!
10. Put on the Garment of Gratitude
One of my most encouraging bible verses (Isaiah. 61:3) says that God has “given us a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
Remember that, like a garment (an item of clothing), gratitude is something that you can choose to put on or take off. When you start counting up all the things that you have been blessed with, it has the tendency to make the things that are going wrong, look way smaller.
It takes creativity sometimes, but when it feels like nothing is going my way, I force myself to find things to be thankful for.
For example, I’m thankful that I live in the days of modern medicine and that fertility options are more accessible than they have ever been before.
I am thankful for a supportive spouse.
Finally, I am thankful that time after time, the grace to keep going keeps finding me, despite how discouraged and drained I may get.
Friend, I know that it feels really hard.
In life, discouraging times will come but thankfully, you and I can overcome every single time.
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