What Discouragement Does To You, And How To Cure It
Prosperity Chapter X:
Someone says: "Discouragement hides God's means and methods."
It does more. It hides God himself; it blots out of sight about
everything that is helpful and friendly to us. It paralyzes our ability,
our courage, our self-confidence; it destroys our efficiency and cuts
down the effectiveness of every one of our faculties.
Every physician knows how discouragement affects the cure of a
patient, — delays it, and often makes it impossible. The sick man who is
cheerful, hopeful of his restoration to health, has ten chances to one
for recovery compared with the one who is blue and despondent.
"Never make a decision when downhearted. Never let the weak side of your nature take control.”
Discouragement breaks the spirit, and when a man's spirit is broken
he has no heart for anything. He is beaten in life's battle. A broken
spirit, the loss of hope and courage, causes more failures, more
suicides, more insanity, than almost anything else.
I wish it were possible to show victims of discouragement what it
does to them — how it destroys their morale, and tears down what they
have built up in their creative, hopeful moments.
Only a short time ago I read the story of a fine young man who became
the victim of discouragement. After losing his position, during a
period of business depression, this man would start out every morning to
hunt for another; and every night he would come home disappointed, but,
for a long time, not discouraged, always believing that he would
ultimately get a job.
This had been going on for weeks, when one night he was late in
returning, and his wife, watching at the window until it was too dark to
see any more, drew down the shades and tried in busying herself with
house-wifely tasks to dispel the sudden feeling of anxiety that gripped
When her husband came an hour later, she noticed that some depressing influence seemed to have been working upon him; that he was not quite as hopeful as he had been. She cheered him up as usual, gave him his supper, encouraged him in every possible way, and sent him to bed comforted. Next morning he tried to talk hopefully, and when he was ready to start for the city, assured her that he was going to do his best. But it was evident he didn't feel quite as sure of himself, quite as self-confident, as he had been.
Watching at the window for his return that evening, the faithful wife was surprised to see that he was not alone. A shadowy, sinister figure was at his side, talking very earnestly to him. It accompanied him to the gate and then suddenly vanished.
The next evening the same sinister figure walked at his side, and the look of despair on the man's face frightened her. The third evening the wife waited and watched until long after dark, but no husband came. Numb with fear, she sat through the long night at the window, where she kept a light burning until daylight, but no husband, and no word from him, came to her.
As soon as life began to stir in the neighborhood she went out for a morning paper, and the first item that caught her eye was the suicide of a man who had thrown himself into the river and was drowned. Filled with foreboding, she rushed to the morgue where the newspaper stated the body had been taken, and there her fears were verified. The body of the drowned man was that of her husband.
The young man had toward the end become so discouraged by the hideous pictures his doubts and fears threw upon the screen of his mind that he became mentally unbalanced, and in despair ended his life. In those last days discouragement was so persistently at his side, telling him it was no use looking for a job, that he would never get one, that it was visualized by him as a reality, and actually became visible to the sensitive, sympathetic eyes of his wife.
"You are not capable of correct judgment when fear or doubt or despondency is in your mind."
- O.S. Marden
Right now I know a number of people who are so depressed and
demoralized by pessimistic, discouraged thinking, that they are
seriously endangering their future success and the happiness of their
whole lives. Because they are temporarily out of employment,
discouragement has taken hold of them and filled their minds with such
black, depressing pictures that they go about as do the insane in the
beautiful grounds allotted to them.
They see only the gloomy mental world their thoughts have
constructed, and are unaware of the bright, cheerful, sunlit world all
around them. They are, in fact, temporarily insane, because all mental
depression, whatever the immediate cause, is in some degree mental
derangement, the confusion and unhappiness which are always the results
of wrong thinking.
It is well known that worry and discouragement cause chemical changes in the body, which actually produce chemical poisons.
These poisons lower the resisting power of both body and mind and
leave the sufferer a prey to all sorts of unfortunate results. There are
multitudes of people today in poor health and in poor circumstances,
plodding along in discontent and unhappiness, when they might be happy
and doing superb things were they not the victims of discouraging
conditions, conditions which are largely the result of their fear and
Their minds are out of joint, unhinged, and unfit for the work of
today, because they are divided between looking forward to the future,
anticipating all sorts of evils and misfortunes, and looking backward to
the past, regretting whatever they had or had not done.
""You can't do it!" keeps more people with splendid ability in
mediocrity than almost any other thing. "You can't do it!" meets you
everywhere in life. At every turn you propose to take, you will find
someone to warn you away, to tell you not to take that road, that it
will lead to disaster. To avoid a sad fate, you must maintain an iron
will and a determination which never wavers."
- Orison Swett Marden
Prosperity Chapter X , continued...
One of the saddest things in my work is the cry of unhappiness that
comes to me from people who have lost their courage and ambition. They
write me that they have ruined their careers, and that all they can do
now is to live on in a very hopeless and unhappy way. "Oh, if I hadn't
quit in a moment of discouragement!" they wail: "If I hadn't yielded to
homesickness and left college!" "If I had only stuck to my trade, to my
law practice, to my engineering work a little longer, until success came
to me; if I had only kept on, how different things would be today! But I
lost heart, got blue and discouraged and decided to try something
easier. I have never been happy or satisfied with myself since I played
the coward and turned back, but it is too late to make a change."
There are millions of people in inferior or mediocre positions
today who might be doing big things had they not yielded to
discouragement at the start and ruined the promise of their lives.
Nine-tenths of the men and women in the great failure army are there
because they were not prepared to meet obstacles, setbacks, and were
frightened when they confronted them. They didn't have the vision that
sees beyond obstacles and holds on in spite of unexpected difficulties,
disappointments, and reverses.
Some people are always at home to the "blues." They are, as Carlyle
says, "rich in the power to be miserable." I know a woman whose mind is
so adjusted to despondency and discouragement that a very little thing
brings on a fit of the "blues." She seems to be always ready to receive
the whole blues family, and the first one that gets admission to her
mind drags in his relatives, — discouragement, despondency, despair,
fear, worry, and all the rest. They hold her in thrall for days
together, driving out everything else, all happiness, courage,
confidence, her very sanity.
Indulgence in the "blues," in morbid, despondent moods, is dangerous
to character development and success. After a while it becomes a settled
habit, a disease, and every little setback, every little
disappointment, throws the sufferer off his balance, kills his
enthusiasm and his zest for work, lowers his efficiency and, for the
time being, his ability. In the end it acts like creeping paralysis and
robs him of all initiative, all power and energy, all desire even to do.
I am acquainted with a man whose habitual despondency has starved and
stunted his whole life. He is a striking illustration of the
destructive power of unhappy thoughts. He gives one the impression of
great possibilities never expressed. His forces are shut up within him.
He is always full of fear, worry, and anxiety. Discouragement envelops
him like a mantle. His attitude, his manner, his expression, his speech,
all indicate a shrinking and shriveling, an impotence which is due to
his unfortunate moods.
He is discontented, restless, unhappy, suffering from the sense of a
thwarted ambition, and although he has worked very hard all his life his
morbid mentality and discouraged outlook have cut down his efficiency
more than fifty percent, and left him way behind where a man of his
natural ability should be.
One of the marks of a strong soul, one who is anchored in faith, is
the ability to conquer discouragement, melancholia, the "blues," all
tendencies to cowardice and self-pity. No matter what happens, what
obstacles or trials push such souls back, or for a time press them down,
they never lose hope or give way under disappointments and failures. It
is not that they do not feel those things, but that they will not
suffer them to turn them aside from their purpose, to defeat their
Now the greatest obstacles to our success are in our minds, and there
is no one so weak that he cannot overcome the most destructive enemy
thoughts by the application of mental chemistry; that is, by calling to
his aid the antidotes for the enemy thoughts, and training his mind to
face the light instead of the darkness.
A discouraging, despondent thought can instantly be neutralized by
a courageous, hopeful thought, just as an acid can instantly be
neutralized by an alkali.
The mental law is as scientific as the physical. We cannot hold two
opposite thoughts in the mind at the same time, one neutralizes or
drives out the other. We can always crowd out a negative, destructive
fear thought, by persistently holding in mind its opposite, — a
positive, courageous, constructive thought.
"Whistling to keep up courage is no mere figure of speech," said William James, the great psychologist. "On
the other hand, sit all day in a moping posture, sigh and reply to
everything in a dismal voice and your melancholy lingers." That is,
by our thoughts and acts we can draw to ourselves courage or
discouragement. In other words, we can change our mental attitude as we
will; and to change our thought is to change our condition.
"Have you the grit and
pluck to stand all sorts of discouragement? If you can do this you are a
winner. Nothing can hold you back from your goal."
For instance, if you are looking for a job and don't find one; if you
have had reverses, and don't know where your next dollar is coming
from; if you are a round peg in a square hole; if you have made
mistakes; if for any reason you are discouraged and tempted to retreat
before the enemy, instead of going about with a defeated, gloomy,
despondent air, turn about face at once and assume the attitude of a
victor in life.
Say to yourself: "God did not create any man to be a failure. He gave
to all his children qualities that command success, each in his own
field. All we need is to use them. I am success-organized, because I
partake of the attributes of the Creator of the universe, the Omnipotent
One. I will now use the divine power within me to do the thing I want
to do; to get the position I desire; to satisfy all my needs. Failure
cannot come near me. I am a success now, because I am one with
Resolutely hold this mental attitude, and you will be surprised to
find what courage it will give you, and how your difficulties will wilt
General Foch says that a lost battle is a battle you think you
can't win. Multitudes of battles have been won by the persistent
determination of a single general who had not given up hope when all
"You are beaten; this army is not beaten," has ever been the
reply of great generals to the discouraged one who wanted to give up the
battle as lost. It is the Joifres, the Fochs, the Grants, the men of
indomitable faith and courage, who have ever wrung victory from defeat.
All down through history glorious victories have been won, not by
masses of men, but by single individuals who had superb courage, a
mighty faith in themselves and in their undertaking, an unflinching
determination to succeed. In innumerable instances such brave souls had
saved the day when their comrades had given up because they saw nothing
but defeat, where the will to conquer had seen only victory.
There is somebody not far from you at this moment, my doubting,
discouraged friend, who could step into your place and command victory
with the resources which you think so inadequate for the work you have
to do. There is somebody who has no more ability than you have who could
see an unusual opportunity in the situation which you find so hopeless,
A great scientist said that when he encountered what seemed an
unconquerable obstacle he invariably found himself upon the brink of
some important discovery. The time above all others when it is most
important for a man to hold fast to his faith and courage is when the
way is so dark that he cannot see ahead.
If you push on toward your goal when everything seems going
against you, when doubt and discouragement are doing their best to make
you give up, turn back, turn coward and quitter, then is the time when
"you are closer to victory than you dream of.
If you never lose your conviction in your divine God-given power to
win out in spite of handicaps or any obstacles that may arise in your
path, nothing can defeat you, because you are in conscious partnership
WHAT AM I?
I am the great paralyzer of ability, the murderer of aspiration and
ambition, the destroyer of energy, the killer of opportunity.
I am the cause of more suffering, more human misery and loss, more tragedies and wretchedness than any other one thing.
I have cursed more human beings, arrested the development of more
fine ability, strangled more genius and stifled more talent than
anything else in the world.
I have shortened vast multitudes of lives and sent more people to the insane asylum, to crime and suicide than men dream of.
I cause chemical changes in the brain which cripple efficiency and ruin careers.
I deprive human beings of more things that are good for them,
things that fit their nature, and that they were intended to enjoy, than
any other one agent.
I cause men and women to wear poor, shabby clothes, to look
dejected and forlorn, when it is the right of every human being to look
up, to be well-dressed, attractive, and happy.
I shut out the sun of hope and cause men to see everything in a
distorted light because I make them look on the shadow side of things.
I devitalize people and make chronic invalids of men and women who should be enjoying perfect health.
I am the devil's most effective instrument. If he can once get
the bare suggestion of me into the human consciousness at the
psychological moment, he can work destruction to the most ambitious, the
I starve and stunt minds, and keep vast multitudes of people in ignorance.
I usually attack a man when he is down, when things have gone
wrong, and he is feeling blue. When he is tired, fatigued, devitalized, I
find an easy entrance to his mind, because then his courage is not so
keen, his brain is not so alert, and he has less dare in his nature.
I find that the best time to work on my victims is in the
afternoon. In the morning men are too vigorous mentally, have too much
vitality and energy, too much courage, to give in to me, but along in
the afternoon when the body and brain begin to weary of work, and the
whole man feels a bit fagged, I can tackle the great mental scheme which
was in the forefront of the brain in the forenoon, when the faculties
were clean-cut, and unless my victim is alert I soon have him under my
I am the greatest human deceiver. Once I get into the mind, I can
make a giant believe he is a pygmy, and of no account. I can cut down
his self-respect until in his own estimation he is a very ordinary man.
I have a twin brother, Doubt, who is called the great traitor. He
is always ready to help me to finish my little game. We work together,
and when under our control it is impossible for a man to be resourceful,
original, or effective.
I creep into a man's mind after he has resolved to branch out on
new lines, to step out from the beaten path and blaze his own way, and
weaken his ardor, dampen his enthusiasm, and make him feel inefficient
and helpless. I whisper in his ear, "Go slow; better be careful. Many
abler men than you have fallen down trying to do that very thing. It is
not the time to start this thing; you had better wait, wait, wait."
I haven't a single redeeming thing in my nature, and yet I have
more influence with the human race than has any one of the finer, nobler
qualities which help to bring man up to the height of his