5 Ways Successful People Beat Discouragement

By on August 16, 2017

By Rita Schulte—

Have you ever wondered why we get so upset when things don’t go as we painstakingly plan in life? You may be thinking, that’s a stupid question, it’s normal to be upset when things don’t turn out like we want them to; end of story. But is it?  It’s true that disappointment is an inevitable part of life, but if it’s stealing your joy or leading to discouragement, maybe it’s time to take a look at what could be driving it.

Disappointment is the result of a blocked goal, a hurt; or perceived loss of some kind. Loss usually gives rise to feelings of anger, hurt, rejection or sadness. I wanted something to happen that didn’t, or I didn’t want something to happen that did. The most important thing to consider is the message your disappointment is trying to convey.

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Each of us has attached a meaning to the situations and events in life that have caused us pain or disappointment. When those add up it’s easy for discouragement to set in. How do you know if you’re discouraged? Let’s take a look:

  • Chronic feelings of anger or depression
  • Focus is on the obstacles
  • Divided heart and mind
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of failure

Our beliefs provide clues as to why we struggle with discouragement. So, we need to notice what we’re telling ourselves that’s causing our joy to be stolen. Here are some examples– see if any fit for you.

If things don’t go as I plan, I tend to believe the following about myself:

  • I’m a failure
  • I’m inadequate
  • I’m not good enough
  • I won’t be happy unless…….

Looking through a different lens

Lots of successful people have faced discouragement in life. Look at Oprah Winfrey, she’s one of the most successful women on the planet— and probably the most transparent. That’s why people love her. A week didn’t go by without her struggles, especially with food, being plastered all over TV, magazines and the Internet. Oprah has been open about her discouragement with her weight problems. People related to Oprah’s struggles because of their own, maybe not with weight, but with something.

Oprah didn’t let discouragement stop her. She keeps trying. She keeps moving forward in spite of obstacles. She loves herself even if she isn’t a size 2 because she realizes her legacy is more important than her dress size. Successful people look through the lens of possibilities to change, or modify their beliefs about discouragement. They:

Focus on the bigger picture

What seems discouraging to you today may be a blessing tomorrow. Successful people use discouragement to motivate them to push harder. They know they have to focus on the bigger picture and keep doing what they’re doing in order to succeed. Remember, your story isn’t finished because of a few set-backs. Winston Churchill had a saying, “Never, Never, Never, give up!

Watch what you tell yourself  

Negative self-talk is the easiest way to get us down. Start to notice and pay attention to what you tell yourself when your upset or disappointed. Negative self-talk is automatic. We often don’t know we’re doing it. It also appears in telegraphic form so that a song, a place, or a spoken word can trigger our disappointment. Once you notice your negative self- talk, learn to replace it with positive life giving counter-statements. Then practice telling yourself those things!

Stay Calm and focused

When we get discouraged it’s easy to freak out. No Bueno! This is when we’re prone to do all that negative self defeating thinking. Successful people know how to reign it in and stay focused even when the bottom drops out. They are resilient. To stay calm, try deep breathing, practice  acceptance.


How many of us have succeeded in changing our spouse, our kids, our boss, our friends, or our circumstances? The only thing we can change is our thoughts, attitudes, actions, and beliefs. Accepting that creates power and empowers us to use our energy to fight for our goals and dreams instead of ruminating about being discouraged.

Cultivate an attitude of gratefulness

Developing an attitude of being grateful is something that you have to practice doing. It doesn’t come natural for most of us. End your day out by writing down 3 things that you were grateful for. Then reflect on it. Breathe it into your soul. It will change how you look at life and it will keep discouragement at bay.

Back at you: What disappointments are you facing today? What beliefs are robbing you of the joy that is already yours?  Begin today to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness by refusing to let life’s disappointments steal your joy.


Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Radio and a 1-minute feature “Consider This.” Her shows air on several stations. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, Kyria and LifeHack.org. She is the author of Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing through the Losses of Life, (Leafwood) and Imposter: Gain Confidence, Eradicate Shame and become who God made you to be (Siloam), and her new book Think This Not That will be releasing in 2018; follow her at www.ritaschulte.com, on FB http://www.facebook.com/RitaASchulte and twitter @heartlinepod. Rita hosts a Virtual Online Counseling Center where she does one-on-one coaching and leads groups on relevant topics. Go to http://ritaschulte.com/counseling-services.

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5 Ways Successful People Beat Discouragement