For me, discouragement comes in seasons. I’ll be doing great for awhile, waking up every morning excited to do what I do, feeling energized and alive. Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere (or so it seems) a cloud of discouragement seeps in.
Suddenly, I’m dragging myself out of bed. Everything feels harder than it needs to be. I try to talk myself out of it, or just “get over it,” but nothing seems to work.
The other day I had an epiphany about one reason this may happen.
I was on the treadmill at the time, which is somewhat normal for me. I’ve been a runner for a few years now, and for as long as I’ve been doing it I’ve loved the sense of freedom and energy running brings. I know it isn’t like this for everyone, but stick with me. You don’t have to be a runner for this to make sense.
Running on a treadmill is the worst kind of running.
Like I said, you don’t have to be a seasoned runner, or even have a vivid imagination to see how this could be the case. Just use basic common sense. When you’re running outside, you get to explore new locations, see new sights, and cover incredible ground. There’s a sense of wonder and accomplishment that comes along with that.
When you’re running on a treadmill, on the other hand, you stare at the same thing the entire time (usually the controls, wishing time would pass faster). Although you do run a certain distance, when you finish, you end up in the exact same place you started.
You literally feel like you went nowhere.
Of course, a treadmill fulfills a certain purpose (exercise) but the sense that you aren’t making any progress is a mental obstacle so huge it’s no wonder it’s difficult to overcome.
I wonder if this is why life get’s discouraging — we feel like we’re going nowhere.
Sometimes life feels a little like a treadmill, don’t you think? If we aren’t careful to consider where we’re going, and why we’re going there, it can just feel like we’re putting one foot in front of the other in this irritating, repetitive motion (make money, pay bills, make food, do dishes) just to end up the exact same place we started.
It can seem like we’re struggling just to keep up with this conveyor-belt called life. It can feel like the only reason we keep moving is because, if we stop, we’ll fall flat on our face.
No wonder we feel discouraged.
What if we just reminded ourselves of where we’re going?
This happened to me the other day in real life (not on a treadmill). I was feeling a little discouraged in my marriage, honestly. Nothing terrible had happened. But I was just feeling a little bit down. I was feeling like we were working hard, but going nowhere.
So I asked, “What are we doing with our marriage?”
It was a weird question to ask, truthfully, and at first, he looked at me a little funny. He asked me what I meant, and I so I clarified: “What is our marriage for? Besides being happy. What do you hope our marriage does?”
What followed was one of the best conversations we’ve ever had, and one of the richest, happiest, more fulfilling few weeks of our marriage.
It made me wonder if this is one way to cure discouragement and depression in other areas of our lives.
Obviously, discouragement and depression are complicated animals, and don’t only have one root cause. I’m not trying to oversimplify them. But I wonder what would happen if we started asking questions of purpose and direction about our marriages, our parenting, our careers, our spending habits, our faith, and our friendships.
What if we asked:
- Why am I going to school? What do I hope comes from this?
- Who am I investing in? Why? What do I hope comes from it?
- Where are we headed with raising our kids? What do we hope we accomplish?
- What is my job for? Why do I go everyday?
- What is our marriage about? What do I hope it does?
I wonder how these simple questions could help refocus our energy, and even lift the fog of discouragement and depression.
25 thoughts on “One Reason You Feel Discouraged or Depressed”
I found your blog earlier this week and have to say your last 3 posts (this one included) have motivated me to do more soul and life searching. All three posts have been confirmation as to what needs to happen in my life. Change definitely needs to happen in almost every area of my life, but I have been paralyzed with depression, despair, frustration over not being where I want to be. I realize I need to take steps daily, doing something different from my norm daily for change to come. I must change, not someone else, not something else. It’s me. I know this must sound obvious to many, but when you keep looking at and doing the same things all day, every day, you get stuck on the treadmill. Change my focus, change my routine, change me.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and discoveries.
I love these questions you’re asking, Allison! One of my favorite questions to ask counseling clients is ‘what’s it like being married to you?’
That closes down endless , futile rabbit trails that focus on their husbands faults and idiosyncracies, and opens up doors to real honest soul searching.
And then, the lights go on. And substantial life change begins …
This is super timely for me, Allison.
I quit my full-time teaching job last year to come back to my hometown and be closer to my family, and to take a break from school teaching. (I’ve thought about you and your story a lot over these past few months!)
I’m only 25, but it’s hard not to feel like everyone my age is figuring out what they want to do/where they want to be/getting married and I’m stuck in a rut, just trying to make enough money to cover my monthly living expenses. It is definitely discouraging to feel so directionless, but hopefully asking myself those important questions will give me some clarity so I can hop off the treadmill!
Ally—I love this. I’ve been thinking about this recently too. “Why am I doing this? Where am I going?” And I came to the same conclusion. Remind yourself constantly. Remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and where you’re hoping to end up. This gives those minutes on the treadmill purpose. And I think we can do anything if the purpose is great enough.
I like that you talk about things that affects all of us 🙂 Everyone experiences peaks and valleys.
Though the distractions of this world, and sometimes the real feelings to give up or ask why bother…for the believer, I like how this scrippy says to set our mind on ‘higher’ things, above feeling & circumstances 🙂
If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3 AMP
I totally agree about indoor running. Lame. Life is about getting outside and seeing what’s around you. Sure, it might rain and the wind might — correction, it WILL — blow. But the sun might shine and the birds might sing. And you will remember why running in the rain is beautiful, too.
Loved this post, so fitting for where I am. Asking questions isn’t that what Christ did? I am science minded, I trained to be a Registered Nurse, and now I am home full time with my children and educating them. But I often get stuck in this science mind and mode (I also call it the fix-it, cause and effect mode) looking for the answer without really pondering the question.
Thinking the answer is the goal.
Now instead of dreading questions or thinking they are the means to the answer, I am finding beauty thinking about the questions and enjoying the journey, whatever the answer may be. I will be 52 years old this month, and my Lord is transforming me as never before, changing my perspective actually turning it upside down. thank you Allison for being part of my journey expressing Christ to me. Blessings!!
Oooh, I love this analogy. There are several projects I’m running on a treadmill with right now. It’s so discouraging.
I love this, Alison! Our hope matters. When we feel like we’re not moving, we remember that what we do is unto something bigger than this moment.
Thanks (as always) for writing!
I was literally lying in bed with my phone, not wanting to get up and go to work on a Saturday, and read this post. Amazing.
Lately, I’ve definitely been in a bit of a rut. For a few weeks this fall, life felt full of purpose and energy. That’s because I was living very intentionally. Yesterday, I found myself wondering if I’d ever get that feeling back. As your questions indicate, direction in life can be rekindled by asking questions and living out the answers. I think this is what it means to live intentionally, instead of aimlessly. Thank you! 🙂
Love your analogy of the treadmill. And those last questions, if only I would have asked myself those questions years ago before my 4-year degree was chosen! Lol
Another awesome, thought-provoking post.
These are questions I often grapple with. Why am I doing the things I do? Why am I doing this instead of this? A long time ago, I made the decision to follow “my happy.” While at times the road can be bump, I don’t regret my decision. This post and many of your others serve as affirmation of my decision. My fondest wish is that others in my life could do the same. I try to be supportive wherever possible. Ever since stumbling on your blog, I’ve referred quite a number of people to your site. Keep up the fantastic job!
Thank you for this post. I am a business owner with actually a few companies. It sounds glamorous, but I am still working very hard to achieve the level in my head where “I’ve arrived”. Although these business ventures are all creative outlets and funnels that fuel me, at the same time some days I resent my gifts and talents. For the last 7 weeks, I have been so inspired…even so to the point that I’ve literally been working 13-14 hrs, 7 days straight. Even now it’s almost 2a.m. But for the last week I’ve been starting to feel down. Over the course of weeks, that zeal to do has been brought on by the huge opportunities that I feel are propelling me forward like being asked to music score on a Hollywood film, engage in a potential deal with Microsoft and etc. But I’ve been feeling really discouraged, which led me to search online for answers and I then stumbled upon your post. You’re right, when the results to your press isn’t presently evident it can feel like you’re running on a treadmill. That is the exact feeling I’ve had. But I realize I’m doing all of what I’m doing to have the opportunities open up for me and I know soon they will be realized. I needed to read this to remind myself of my purpose and all of the services that will be provided if I hang on. Thank You.
I stumbled into this blog trying to find answers for the reasons I wake up discouraged. I go to bed with plans for early in the morning, when I wake up I’m totally discourage and decide to stick to bed. I’ve never seem to finish anything. I’m currently a taxi driver with a PC insurance license, a Health license, can read in five languages, can solve practically any computer problem, but have never stuck with any of my plans. I recently discovered that I had something called Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) that made me a very shy person, who later bacame an alcoholic and ultimately bipolar in and out of mental institutions. Knowing what I had helped me incredibly, but so many years of living in shell can’t be easily erased. I still fall into the trap of starting an endevour and end up discouraged and back to driving wheel. Reading your analogy of the treadmill gives me something to think about, but it might also be tricky. What if when I stop to ask myself why I do this I realized that I’m going nowhere.
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