Has abuse taught you to be easily discouraged?

04 Feb 2020

Have you ever felt disappointed with yourself because you let yourself be discouraged from pursuing the things that excite you or matter to you? Do you have an issue with goal-setting and goal-hitting? If so, this article will help you understand how that came about, why it is not your fault and what you can do to overcome it.

Context counts

Have you ever done this thing of looking at people who you either assume, or know, to have happy lives and asked yourself, “How do they do it?”

I know I have.  During the years of my unhappy marriage that thought was almost my mantra – among with the corollary, “And what is wrong with me that I cannot create a happy life like theirs?”

Unfortunately, this is one of those unfortunate questions that leads only to a quagmire. Context counts.  If you were to ask yourself, “Why is it that I can’t have a happy life with a partner who is wounding, cold and critical?” then you would be on to something. But that is NOT what you do.


Narcissists teach you to see things in the most skewed of contexts.  Everything that is wrong with the relationship – and the world – is down to you. Everything that is good about the world resides in their monstrously narcissistic person.

Toxic people are invested in your failure

That tends to make finding any happiness, with them in the picture, practically impossible.  But there is more.  Toxic people are invested in ensuring that you fail at everything – or at least, everything that does not serve their interest or redound to their glory.  So, they never miss a chance to discourage you and devalue your achievements.

If you are easily discouraged, that is because toxic people conditioned you to be easily discouraged.  It didn’t happen in a vacuum.  When you look back over how they responded to your aspirations, plans and achievements, you can see how they worked consistently to undermine you.

Recognizing the damage that they did is an important step on the road to overcoming it.  Nobody can heal from what they are not even aware of. Awareness opens up the possibility of reclaiming your power.

But how to do it?


This morning, I was musing about how uncomfortable goals make me feel.  Any new(ish) year is, seemingly, all about goals.  (And divorce. For the record, I am as much in favor of divorce as I am antsy about goals.)

As a coach, I know that goals are meant to be the magic wand you just have to waggle in your hot, little hand to turn your life around.  All we have to do, according to received wisdom and cliche, is adopt goals that are, 

S -pecific

M -easurable

A -achievable

R -elevant &

T -ime-bound 

and the sky is your limit.  Allegedly.

I.G.S. (Irritable Goal Syndrome)

For myself, Goals have always had a nasty habit of triggering my IGS (Irritable Goal Syndrome). For the longest time, I thought that it was “just me” – abuse survivors always assume that most everything is “just them”, thereby denying the importance of their own feelings.

Happily, fairly recently, I came across the fabulous Mastin Kipp, author of the wonderful “Claim Your Power. A 40 Day Journey to Dissolve the Hidden Blocks that Keep You Stuck…” He, too, has an issue with the inauthenticity of goal-setting.  I was so delighted to find myself in such good company, I was positively crowing!

Prompted by my own IGS, no less than the havoc that I see goal-setting cause in the lives of my clients, I feel that we ought to opt for an alternative approach, based on intentions. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that intentions provide a far kinder way of relating to yourself and your aspirations than do goals.

Intentions, the upside and downside

But before we deal with the upside of intentions, we need to acknowledge that intentions have often had a bum rap.  The Road to Hell is, famously, Paved with Good Intentions. In other words, people make the right noises about being virtuous but then don’t follow through. However, I am not speaking about – or too – the virtue-signallers, here.

You are an honorable person.  Your intentions, also, are honorable.  So, make this the year that you discard the punitive sticks you have been using to beat yourself with. Instead, you want to focus on how you channel your talent, abilities, worth and creativity as never before.

Besides, as a survivor of emotional abuse, a great deal of your healing hinges on turning the conventional wisdom (of judgmental people) on its head.

So, now, let’s turn our attention to exploring the curative power of intention.

SPACE Intentions

Since Intentions are every bit as worthy as Goals, they deserve their own acronym by which you can get a handle on them – SPACE Intentions.  You want to create SPACE intentions for yourself – that is intentions that provide you with the space to grow into a more fulfilled version of yourself. Specifically, SPACE intentions are,

S -elfselfful

P -ersonal

A -dmirable

C -compassionate &

E – ngaging. 


You ended up drained by an emotionally abusive relationship because you felt obliged to factor yourself out of every equation.  In order to get your things done, your way, you need to own and value yourself – and put yourself at the heart of your life.  Stop worrying about who you will rob by doing that. You won’t rob anyone. It’s not in your nature. The only people who will object are the Space Invaders who are more trouble than they are worth anyway. So forget about them.  You want to think of  how you compensate – yourself – for your own long-term deprivation.


Other people may or may not understand the intentions you set for your life. You may not understand quite how you can turn them from a vague longing into a crystal-clear reality. That is perfectly okay.  You will get clarity as you move forward.  However, if other people cannot understand and offer you their support as you embark on this new stage of your journey, they don’t deserve to hold an important place in your life.  (They may not even deserve to be out at the margins but, hey, that is your call.)


Your intentions need to be admirable inasmuch as they need to inspire respect and approval in you, for you.  Other people may have different ideas.  Abusive other people surely will. Don’t let them dictate to you.  Part of being admirable in you own eyes – which is a very necessary part of healing past wounds – means that you respect yourself over and above other people’s opinions.


This means being kind to yourself through the whole process of setting intentions and growing through those intentions with all their wins, blocks and set-backs.  As you may have already noticed, you are not a steam-train.  You do not always go directly from A to B.  Sometimes, three times round the houses, with various unscheduled stops, is just the route that you have to take.  That may be as irritating as hell for the Goal-Ridden. But, for all you know, all of that seemingly off-piste stuff will reveal precious benefits.  In time.


Your have to find your intentions attractive. You have likely already discovered that just plumping for making them time-bound is the best way of setting yourself up to experience overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and failure. Abuse is all about disconnection.  It leaves a person disconnected from their sense of self-worth and much else besides.  Uncovering and/or repairing all the precious connections in your emotional world that were forced underground takes time.  Even Rome wasn’t built in a day – and there were a hell of a lot of slaves working on that project.

So, you need to keep your eye on your engaging intentions and let go of both the How and the time-frame.  Provided you let go of the time-frame – and do what you can, when you can – you will encounter your How somewhere along the way.

You don’t have to be easily discouraged anymore

In conclusion, you learned to be discouraged from a toxic loved one.  Don’t let it be the weapon that keeps on wounding you, even after you have removed the toxic one from your life.  Instead set your own SPACE Intentions – which can be as vague as anything at the start.  Then give them the SPACE to blossom and, in the fullness of time, enjoy the rewards you will reap.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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