If you’re a mom, and anything like me, you felt discouraged in the past 5 minutes — likely with your own parenting. Sometimes though, I find discouragement lingers.
You know those days. When you feel “less-than,” self-conscious, and wish you could just avoid people. When evenings in baggy sweats and Netflix seem far more appealing than exercising or socializing.
These are the times when making chocolate chip cookies and eating half the dough seems like the most comforting and therapeutic thing to do. (Speaking from experience here.)
Unfortunately, it’s on these discouraging days that I find it most difficult to eat healthy or exercise – thereby exacerbating my self consciousness – and my desire to hole myself away.
It’s a vicious cycle I catch in my own life too many times. Similar to the cycle of depression, low self-esteem and poor self-image often lead to reclusive tendencies (wanting to avoid people), low energy and low mood. This triple-whamy hits us hard, resulting in coping mechanisms that aren’t too healthy.
When you’re feeling badly about yourself, while struggling with low energy and low mood, exercising, spending quality time with your spouse or kids, or tossing up a kale salad is about as enticing as scrubbing your floors. (Unless you’re one of those people who finds cleaning the floors relaxing and enjoyable – in which case, would you like to be my friend? I’d love to invite you over for, um, coffee.)
I watched it many times when working with clients who suffered from chronic pain disorders.
Depression, discouragement, low self-esteem and very low energy is an incredibly unpleasant combination. And when an energetic, bubbly Kinesiologist and Cognitive Behavioral Therapist saunters into your living room – she’s the last person you want to see. When she drags you into a gym after years of inactivity, you despise her.
Maybe the only way to make her stop is to take a swing at her in the midst of a gym full of people.
Yes, that really happened.
I barely avoided a fist in the face that day, but I also learned a very big lesson I will never forget.
When people are in dark, discouraging days, energetic uber-bubbly people–no matter how good their intentions–are about as encouraging as the 20-year-old barre instructor telling you to “enjoy the burn.” Huh? No, thank you.
The whole experience reminded me of Proverbs 27:14, “If one blesses his neighbours with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be counted as a curse to him.”
When people around us, especially other moms, are struggling, we must first seek to understand where they’re coming from. Gently encourage them to share their insecurities and fears. Show them love without judgement.
And if you’re the one struggling, know you are most certainly not alone. When I’m discouraged, I learned it is best to do nothing more than think of the one simple next step I should take toward the decision I wish I would make. Just one good and uplifting decision.
If you focus on how far you have to go, you’ll overwhelm–and likely shame–yourself. But if you focus just on today, like Jesus told us to, tomorrow will take care of itself.
When tomorrow becomes today, follow the same rule. Just one decision.
Maybe it’s choosing to put down our phone for 15 minutes to play with our kids.
Or perhaps it’s choosing to ask our husband to give us some time to go for a walk, run, or to the gym.
Maybe it’s choosing to wake 15 minutes earlier to read our Bible before the kids wake up.
I don’t know what decision is repeatedly discouraging you, but you do.Just focus on taking that one step that makes you feel little more encouraged, a little more energized and proud of the decision you made to fight yourself out of the cycle. You can. It just takes one decision. Today.
What will your wise decision be today?
Mine? No more cookie dough.