Everybody faces times when they are discouraged, down or struggling with hopelessness. We all know that being in that state is not helpful. Remaining in a mindset that is "down" for long periods of time can lead us into more permanent states of depression and can breed all sorts of health issues.
I personally know the world of discouragement and seasons of feeling down. Odds are you do too. You may be having your own tough day or what seems like a tough year. Throughout every tough season of discouragement, I have sought to go deeper in understanding what it takes to shake off the heaviness of down times.
In the past, it took me forever to get out of a funk. I felt as though I was stuck forever. But over time, as God began to reveal to me the spiritual battle surrounding my life, I learned some simple tools to unwind myself from despair more quickly.
Changing Your 'State'
Sometimes you need to reposition your state of mind so you can find solutions and answers for the situations that want to drive you to down places. I find when I am in a place of discouragement, I am far from being able to come up with solutions or find hope for taking the next step. Sometimes, just adjusting my emotional state into a healthier position makes all the difference. I may not solve the problem or change the circumstance, but I put myself into a place where I can grow, see hope and perceive solutions.
With that in mind, here are three things you need to do to turn around a potential debilitating emotional state of discouragement and into a better state of mind.
1. Ask yourself, "Do I want to be in a better state of mind?" This question can seem so basic, but it really strikes at the core of our problem. Quite often, discouragement can train us to become comfortable with being down all the time. It even affects people's personalities. Ever notice some people just live in a temperament of heaviness? They wear it like a favorite suit.
We have to ask ourselves, "Do I want to be in a better state of mind?" If the answer is yes, then you know you are personally responsible for the attitude you carry and the direction you are headed. We can only blame our emotional state on our circumstances for so long. At some point, we must take responsibility and chose to begin our walk out of discouragement—whatever it takes.
Self-pity trains us to think we are stuck and a victim of our circumstances. It teaches us to stay in our comfy, cozy hell of despair and sorrow. God comes with hope, but we have to decide if we are willing to listen and respond to hope's call that we can change. You may not be able to change your circumstance. You cannot change other people. But you can change your state of mind by first making a decision to change your attitude. The choice is yours. Don't let the enemy take your power of decision away from you.
2. Focus your attention on thanksgiving. Nothing changes the atmosphere within us like thanksgiving. It is impossible to be deeply discouraged and truly grateful at the same time. Thanksgiving drives all kinds of discouragement and despair away because it focuses our attention on goodness. God's intent for thanksgiving is that it would remind us of His goodness. This helps us to remain centered, knowing He is in control, and we can rest on His nature in the midst of our situations.
We often mistakenly focus on circumstances changing, but God is always focused on us changing. Thanksgiving positions us to have an authority over the problem so we can see how we can grow. It also positions us to find possibilities. When we are in discouragement, we can't see or hear solutions.
You can access this truth immediately. Start by thanking God out loud for everything, even the breath you breathe or the fact that you woke up today. Thank Him for relationships, family and more. Center your mind on what God is doing, not on what you are tempted to think He is not doing.
3. Get moving. Most of the time, we need to get a new position physically so we have a reference for our spirituality to shift. If you are sitting, stand up. Every notice your posture often correlates to your emotional state? Discouragement wants you to lie down on the couch in a posture of defeat so you do not become empowered to see your life through hope and expectancy.
Exercise is great for this, but it can even be simply getting up and going for a walk. I will often stand up and start moving back and forth in a room, simply to shift myself out of a defeated posture and into a posture that triggers my mind and spirit to access my victorious position in God. Your body will not do it for you.
What physical pattern do you fall into? Do you slouch on the couch, watch TV and fall into discouragement? Notice how that doesn't make you feel any better. Why not shift your posture and take charge of your state of mind? You'll have to make the decision to break the patterns you fall into in order to move into a more empowering emotional state.
4. Speak out words of empowerment. This is one of my favorite tools, because I have talked myself out of discouragement thousands of times. Words are so powerful, and you must understand that you are talking to yourself all the time in your mind in what is often called "self-talk." This talk is the perceptions, beliefs and attitudes to dwell on about your life at all times.
If you don't take charge of your thoughts, the enemy will do it for you. So you have to be aggressive when it comes to the focus of your thoughts. Speaking life aloud to yourself will yank you off the train of destructive thinking.
When you begin speaking out loud, you set in motion what you are going to dwell on. Quite often, you can break the pattern of repetitious thoughts of discouragement by saying out loud what you want to think about.
When I speak words of encouragement to myself, I train my body to focus on thoughts that are good and helpful for me.
5. Begin to look outward. A major trap with discouragement is that we begin to go inward. We turn our eyes off the world and onto ourselves, creating a deep cycle of self-focus. Unfortunately, this inward focus actually leads us into self-centered and selfish living. The discouragement of the enemy is not only meant to hold you back but to keep you from your impact on others.
Notice that your first temptation when discouraged is to shut down from helping others. We think that because of our poor emotional state, we are of no use to others. Yet quite often, I find I need to get my eyes off of myself and go help someone else. In doing so, I gain a better perspective of my circumstances and lessen the obsession about my problems. Sometimes as we go through trials, helping others can be a great impetus for our own healing.
How can we do this? We can start by praying for someone other than ourselves. We can be mindful of others who need help.
I am reminded of Jesus' words in the book of John: "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Listen! I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest" (John 4:35).
Notice that the verse says, "Lift up your eyes." Discouragement makes your eyes go down or look inward. God says, "Lift them up. Look up. Get your head up. You've got a job to do."
So next time you hit a moment of discouragement, apply these three things to change your emotional state. See the difference it makes.
Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full -time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including,teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, authoring books, leading and mentoring. Mark's deepest love is his family; his wife Melissa, son Maximus and daughter Abigail. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many forms of media, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. His deepest call involves equipping people to live as overcomers. Through understanding inside-out transformation, Mark's message involves getting to the root of issues that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day to day peace. He is passionately reaching his world with a transforming message of love, healing and freedom. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and Melissa founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for his teachings, writing and broadcasts designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation.
For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.
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