What to Do When You Feel Disheartened

It is, without any shadow of doubt, the single biggest challenge for leaders in business. Either themselves or those they lead, becoming disheartened and it’s getting worse.

The sensitivities of people in the workforce is increasing.

And disheartened is affecting people in public life too. There’s a mass of bad news easily available and expectations of achievement are higher than ever.

So, in this post, I would love to look at disheartened from a universal laws perspective and see how we can become more resilient and deal with this mental health issue better if it does happen.


When you think you’re doing well and someone tells you you’re not, you get disheartened. For example: on a trek in Nepal people trek up a long slope and they can’t see the top. They’re doing well or at least they think they are until they ask that horrible question: “how far to the top.”

When the answer is far greater than expectation – some people even give up.

But I am here to say that the universe will tell you when it is time to give up and until then you must never give up. You are never being told to run away from life. You are always being told to expand your influence in life. Disheartened means something.


The universal meaning of disheartened is that your ego has become between you and your destiny. Ego attaches, ego gropes for finality, ego seeks approval, ego rejects advice, ego wants only accolade, ego wants to look better than we feel. Disheartened is the removal of ego.

That is a sign that the universe is loving you like a parent by saying, “I love you so much that I’ll risk your rejection in an attempt to show you your truest potential.”

When we feel brick walls in the way, on the path, we feel disheartened and may almost contemplate exhaustion or even compromise along the way. We can even say “I’ll marry this person because it is comfort” rather than, “I’ll marry this person because they make me want to fly even higher.”


Do not be disheartened at work. People will put you down all the time and this is very important because it is simply balancing someone who put you up. If someone puts you up, someone else goes down on you. (yes, deliberate metaphors here).

Disheartened at work means you are thinking you are ready for greatness but you are not really fully prepared for it. Remember, technical skill is only 30% of the asset needed for greater things in life. 40% is the willingness to re-invent yourself. 30% is the ability to re-imagine yourself. That is the reason we get disheartened at work – we think we are ready for greatness but we are not.


I have had my heart broken nearly 20 times in love. I understand disheartened more than anyone I know. When I love – I love wholeheartedly. Nothing is held back. But this is foolish because nobody wants to be loved wholeheartedly. This is fearsome. When you are loved wholeheartedly by someone it makes you feel stupid, it brings all your self doubts to the surface, it makes your love feel inadequate and trivial and therefore drives you away. Being loved wholeheartedly is a shocking experience. And therefore the one who does it, the one who loves wholeheartedly must do so with a fierce conviction that, if there is a breakage, they will recover and survive.

In my first encounter with disheartened in love I met my wife, and loved her wholeheartedly and stayed with her for 13 years but the disheartened feeling arrived only six weeks after we moved in together. For 12 years, 10 months, 2 weeks… I loved from a disheartened space. I had realised that she would never understand the love i was offering.

But the universe was not punishing me or causing me more pain than pleasure. It was preparing me to understand the lives of millions of people I would eventually help. The marriage finished when I finally learnt what I needed to learn. (slow learner, don’t blame the teacher)


Five years ago, as a Himalayan adventurer – my back surrendered to 50 years of hard labour and unnecessary yoga. 3 surgeries, 200 chiro appointments, 180 packets of anti inflammatories and pain relief pharmaceuticals, over 2 years intermittently crippled and unable to walk, 4 recovery periods of physio and cardio recalibration, I am here.

Friends and family say “oh, you exercise too hard, too far, too much.” But my exercise climbing, walking, swimming, paddling, gym is not exercise. It is my way of allowing the universe into my ego, into my heart, into my love. I am not a sit down, cross legs sort of guy. So, my meditation is action. Mobile meditation and exercise is this. My injuries are not from over exercise, they are from ego attachment to it.

When I start to see my body looking spectacular, something breaks. When I start to see my race results and look to beating others over a distance, when I start to gain achievement from conquering another yoga asana, when I count the number of times I’ve summited peaks, this is when something breaks. It is disheartening when it happens but is this again not a sign that I’m doing anything wrong, it’s a sign that I’m off track, my purpose in life is not egocentric exercise. Thanks for the guidance I say.


To live a life avoiding disheartened is to live a life resilient to life itself. I would rather starve than to miss the opportunity to be disheartened. To avoid being disheartened in life we would need to avoid living truthfully. We would need to become game players, ducking behind trees, hiding under bushes, waiting for the storm of living passes over us and then, in our ripe old years, sliding, quietly and barely noticed into the earth for recycling.

Your soul doesn’t judge your choices. Your soul doesn’t know time or space, so it can’t say “hurry up” or “slow down” those are emotions. Your soul doesn’t say, “do it this way or else” that is only our mind, inventing motives and motivations, causing us trauma.

The true resilience to being disheartened is to know you’ll survive it. Like a fighter entering the ring knowing that they may win the fight but not without some terrible slogs to the eye and gut and jaw, we step into life, the boxing ring of reality and say “bring it on.”

Bring on the sucker punch. Bring on the brick walls. Bring on the aches and pains. Ultimately, sitting in the grandstand, watching others live the game of life isn’t as entertaining as some spiritual teachers make out. And going into the ring defensive is the sort of resilience that causes the worst injuries. It’s better to take a mindset, put on the gloves, and go out there, with courage and face the music. Getting knocked down, out or over is just a part of it. And ultimately why people like me exist.

I’m in your corner. I hold a towel to your wounds, give you a sip of holy water, and get you back up on your feet again, ready to go for it, the next round, and make sure that you rebound from disheartening feedback, quickly.


When I built my first business, I took over, signed for a debt of $500,000 from a company in receivership. I had $20k in the bank, a mortgage, a two year old child and another on the way. I woke everyday like a newborn child, so filled with excitement and self belief, and embarked on paying that debt and then building a business. I did it. There were thousands of disheartening moments, events, experiences. But I was so alive with possibility, they came and went like rain drops.

Four years later, with a multi million dollar income, I was sitting on easy street still loving the day, now three children, big home, fancy car. I was working at a cement plant overseeing the installation of one of our machines, a multi million dollar contract. The boss of the plant and I had been to his home for dinner the day before, with his children and partner and we’d got on like a house on fire. This day, however, things changed. I became disheartened.

We were in his office, the construction noise and dust all around us. It was late, I needed to drive 4 hours to the airport to go home to Melbourne. “I can reduce the noxious dust, carcinogenic dust, by 50% more for just $50k” I proposed. “The impact on your family who live nearby and the whole town will be significant.” I hoped he’d take it because ultimately, this was important to me. The real reason I’d built this business, environmental care.

“No.” that was the last word I heard him speak, and the last day I owned that business. So, disheartened was I that this is where I’d stooped to as an environmentalist, ecologist and passionate carer about humanity, nature and corporate responsibility, I snapped.

My ego was running the ship and my soul was lost. At this moment, this tiny small insignificant moment, the cards collapsed. My marriage, my business, everything. Not because I was wrong, but because I’d been lying to myself for the past 12 months. The gap between my heart and it’s sense of purpose and my ego with it’s sense of accomplishment, were too far apart and I fell in the hole between them.

But did I stop? No. I reinvented myself. I sold the business as it was no longer a vehicle for my truth. I went back to uni, as a dyslexic – mature age student and did two years full time MBA to study behavioural science. I worked through a divorce, found purpose, committed to it and went forward to be disheartened another thousand times.

I shifted from the outside environment to the internal environment. I went from saving the world from commercial industrialised carelessness through air pollution control to saving the world from commercial industrialised carelessness through heart pollution control. Disheartened no, reinvented yes, in other words, evolved.


I’ve never learnt anything worthwhile from a book. That’s just me. But what I do know is this: If you understand the universe, you understand humanity. If you understand humanity you’ll understand yourself. If you understand yourself you will not be disheartened at hitting walls nor negotiate with the devil to keep going doing more of the same. You too can ask “how can I do the same thing different.”

I’ve learnt how to apply “universal laws” rather than emotional games taught by religious and feel good experts. I’ve learnt how to “fly a drone” above my world and see where disheartened is not a brick wall but more an invitation to reinvent myself, change my way of doing it, rather than surrender.

If you go back to my disheartening experiences loving people wholeheartedly – I’ve learnt to reinvent myself to expect less and give more. I’ve recognised just how hard it is for people to reciprocate, how confronting it is to be loved wholeheartedly, and therefore, I’ve become really, really good at being single. it’s not resilience, rather it’s the ability to jump from the highest diving tower, into a bathtub of muddy water and feel authentic.

With Love and Wisdom


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