Acting on “Discouraging”

Discouraging: It’s a bleak word. Usually, the word “discouraging” refers to one person attempting to influence another by raising objections, even trying to take away hope or confidence. In the phrase, “Harry is discouraging” we expect an object. Who is he discouraging?

This article is one in a series on discouraging.
You can find the first article in the series here.

Reality Therapy language emphasizes that we choose aspects of our behaviour. In Reality Therapy, “Harry is discouraging” means that Harry is choosing discouraging behaviours, perhaps withdrawing, refusing to act, or thinking repetitive unhappy thoughts. Essentially, the person Harry is “discouraging” is himself.

Discouraging walks hand in hand with actions and thoughts. Or, as I’ve suggested in a previous column, one who is “discouraging” may not do much walking at all, preferring to sit on the couch, munching potato chips while sighing.

If that description seems a little too close to your reality, ask yourself, “Do I want to change my discouraging state? Or do I want to stay like this for awhile?” You may have a compelling wish to continue to “discourage;” that’s your choice. Just be gentle with friends who try to cheer you up, please.

However, perhaps you recognize that you are in a state of discouraging and you want that to change. As we can most easily control our actions and thoughts, the following suggestions are acting behaviours to help move away from the direction of “discouraging.”

1. Get moving. I know, it seems that everyone and their dog wants us to get more physical activity. (In fact, a dog can be very persistent with this suggestion!)  It can be annoying to hear this, especially when it feels so temporarily satisfying to remain sitting. However, changing what you do can change what you feel. Try a 10 minute experiment. Walk briskly, head held high, smile at everyone you meet. Then evaluate, “Do I feel more discouraged, less discouraged, or the same as when I set out?”

2. Check your choices of music, movies, books. If you’ve been keeping the curtains closed, reading tragic novels, listening to melancholy music, and watching movies that need to be accompanied by a box of tissues, it’s hard to be upbeat, isn’t it? Try choosing brighter music, funny movies, or inspiring reading. Make it easy for yourself to move away from discouraging.

3. Make a list. Keep an ‘atta-girl” or “atta-boy” file to remind yourself of the good in your life: people, accomplishments, events. Keep adding to it, even small things, and then read it, especially when you’re down in the dumps.

4. Encourage someone. Look around and deliberately choose someone whom you feel would benefit from a little note, a phone call, or a simple “well done.” Encouraging doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it can make a huge difference in the life of the recipient, and in your life, too.

What acting behaviours would you suggest to help move away from discouraging?

The next article in this series is here.
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