I was following up on warm business lead the other day, to which I experienced an unexpected emotional and physical reaction. The woman on the other end thanked me for contacting her, but then concluded with, “We already have what we need, so please remove us from your distribution list.”

When I heard this message I immediately got a bit of a knot in my stomach. For a brief moment I felt a little fearful, uncertain, and angry – both with her and with myself. Granted, all these thoughts and feelings were fleeting and not very intense; but they were there. In short, I felt discouraged.

Discouragement is the result of all those little thoughts, fears, and assumptions that add up to a real sense of emotional and physical discomfort. For some it’s debilitating: stopping them in their own tracks out of habit; while others keep moving on immediately as if it never happened. In both cases they fail to actively identify and challenge the maladaptive thoughts and fears that feed it.

As I analyzed the thoughts that fuelled my own reactions to that comment, I experienced many things that popped up in quick succession: I felt embarrassed for contacting her and I doubted my ability to be successful. I felt that she was being intentionally short-sited and spiteful. I assumed that I might never get the volume of work I want; which led to a worry of driving my family to the poor-house.

But once I identified all this I was able to see how inaccurate and exaggerated it was. I was then able to re-calibrate, let it go, and get on with my day.

We’re told all the time to not get discouraged. What that means, obviously, is to not give up when we feel defeated. And we shouldn’t give up – but we should also remember that feeling defeated, and scared, and insecure are all natural human reactions. If we deny the experience of discouragement, either by letting it stop us in our tracks or by ignoring its existence, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to self-reflect and self-correct. We either don’t move at all, or we risk moving forward in a maladaptive way.

All feelings serve a purpose. Our physical or emotional reactions are rich with data that we can use to adapt, adjust, and evolve. We can identify the thoughts and assumptions that feed the experience of discouragement, and hold them up to examination. We can then replace the faulty ones with more realistic and/or energizing ones; and then resolve to act more purposefully.

Picking ourselves up and moving forward after acknowledging our discouragement also teaches us just how far our resiliency can be stretched. So we shouldn’t discourage discouragement: we should embrace it and use it as the powerful tool it is.

Author's Bio: 

Chris Hammer, Ph.D. is a certified professional coach and licensed psychologist. He offers leadership and life coaching services, as well as various self-development tools for people who are passionate about reaching higher levels of success and becoming the best they can be.

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