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Dabbling in Discouragement

(This post comes from John Joseph.)

No matter how far I’ve come in my recovery, discouragement seems to be a ready option. As a codependent, addict, and all-around needy person, I seem to have a knack for obsessing over what’s wrong in my life rather than appreciating the long list of good things I have. Experiencing even a small setback can become handy fodder for the recovery blues and send me into a long spiral of discouragement, especially if I don’t watch out for it.

When I get discouraged all kinds of things start happening inside me, like paranoia, sadness, isolation, and a lot of fear. I start shutting down to my present life and feel like I’m “walking beside myself,” something author Leanne Payne calls morbid introspection. I call it hell. It’s like second-guessing every word you speak and finding fault with every nuance of yourself, your looks, your talent, your intellect. Even the way you laugh or the way you walk—everything you do seems wrong and unacceptable somehow. You’ve probably noticed this in others, those people who are miserable inside and out all the time. It’s easy to see it in them, but it can be difficult to diagnose in yourself and even harder to cure.

What I’m learning is that discouragement can start with small things and then escalate into something far too big to handle. For instance, someone makes a thoughtless comment and I take it too deeply, reading meaning into it they never intended. A project goes south and I begin to think there’s no way to get it back on track. I receive a bit of criticism, deserved or not, and suddenly I believe I’m a completely worthless person, unworthy even of the air I’m breathing. That is a very, very unfortunate way to live.

Allowing myself to dabble in discouragement is dangerous for me. It’s like letting a child play with a poisonous snake or a loaded gun. It might seem okay for a moment, but the potential results are deadly. Today I choose to lay discouragement down and be thankful for the good things I have and the good things I know are yet to come in my life.

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