“Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage.”
— Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004)
COUNTERING severe discouragement is a skill of spiritual response that notices a reticence emotionally.
Yes, that’s right; anger, impatience, irritability, sullenness, withdrawal, and many other emotional responses can be a cover for discouragement. A positive spiritual response is about noticing our negative emotion and providing a safe way through and beyond it.
Many discouragements affect us severely. At least that’s the way they work with me and I cannot be alone in this. Severe discouragements polarise a whole day or longer and they manifest not by pride but by lack of courage.
Let us test this for a moment; consider if discouragement is the absence of courage.
Discouragement can be defined as a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; a sense of dispiritedness. Severe discouragement manifests in depressed feelings, and chronic severe discouragement can be thought of as clinical depression. Notwithstanding the many factors that go into depression – for instance, the biochemical, the psychological, and the physiological, etc – there is the possibility that the psychological cause could be a lack of courage.
If this is true, we could think ourselves into acting more courageously. We might take on a certain sensible boldness. By acting we may then think differently and therefore feel less discouraged because our confidence is boosted.
Of course, we are helped, also, when we accept our feelings for what they are without judging them. Such acceptance of our feelings as they are means emotional barriers to approaching courage are not put up unnecessarily. Such an acceptance of our feelings as they are is a good example of a positive spiritual response.
But how about a little empathy? As I write, I’ve just faced another bout of discouragement. There’s compounded with it, the sense that I’ve let people down; my lack of courage to fight my way through it – in their presence – may have led them to 1) become discouraged themselves, 2) reconsider their otherwise favourable impression of me, or 3) wonder what was wrong with me and how they could help. Sadly, and this is so often the case, I find it hard to let people in when I’m feeling so dispirited – because even I don’t know myself. Thankfully, it’s rare I feel this way in company.
Then, as I write, and as God works through the nodules of my spirit, I gradually sense the empathic touch of the Spirit. Now I need to make amends, for amends will help, for they involve me in a courageous, selfless act.
When we face severe discouragement, despite other remedies, we can try a courageous act. Discouragement can be seen as a lack of courage – a lack of confidence. Courageous acts are not saved only for superheroes. Courage can be approaching a person and simply making amends. Courage bolsters confidence.
Discouragement happens as we face life without having the courage to fight our way through it. All of us have such times. A wise boldness helps. Courage bolsters confidence.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.